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10 bad habits to break in the workplace

Posted by
09 Mar 2017
bad habitsWith spring on the way, we are now a quarter of the way through the year and many are attempting to stick with their new year’s resolutions made at the beginning of 2017. So what bad habits could you break to stay in line with your resolutions and ensure you remain productive in the workplace? 

1. Timewasting

Most timewasting comes as a result of bad time management such as speaking unnecessarily with colleagues, putting off tasks you don’t want to do, bad prioritisation and general procrastination, all contribute to wasting time. Is it really necessary to be checking emails every three minutes? Timewasting can be avoided through effective planning; if we set aside specified times to carry out administrative tasks, to have planned meetings with colleagues and to do other non-essential day-to-day activities, our daily duties will naturally become more concentrated, more effective and we will waste less time “winging it”.

2. Timekeeping

Timekeeping is also essential to avoid timewasting. We have already discussed how good timekeeping comes as a result of effective planning, but timekeeping starts with sticking to a schedule – this includes being on time! Being late sets you off on a bad footing for the rest of the day.

3. Gossiping

Gossiping is rampant in most workplaces, but should be avoided for two reasons:

  1. If you are gossiping, you are distracted and not working. 
  2. Gossiping can create a negative atmosphere around you.  

A Turkish proverb states that “whoever gossips to you will gossip about you”, which creates a sense of distrust in yourself and your colleagues. Furthermore, it can also influence the way in which others start to look about the person you are gossiping about.  

4. Negative mind-sets

Refusing to do something because ‘it’s not my job’ or ‘not in my job description’ is one thing we should all give up for. Eat Your Career claims that these kind of phrases are the things ‘killing your career’. This is not the mind-set of a team player, and whether you are a permanent, temporary, interim or part-time worker, the long and short of it is you are getting paid to contribute to your company. It takes nothing to pitch in and help others when we can – who knows, you might even gain a new skill from it!

5. Mess

I am not just talking about having a messy desk. Mess can be folders on your desktop, unfiled paperwork, an unorganised planner or calendar. Being more organised will allow you to see clearly and in turn, will make you a more effective worker.

6. Sitting down all day

Make the effort to go out at lunch time, to get up regularly for drinks and to walk to different departments to interact with colleagues rather than calling or emailing. It is so easy (especially at this time of year) to look outside at lunch time, see that it is raining and decide not to go out, but we need to be more health conscious. Last year, the Liverpool team at Sellick Partnership trialled standing during afternoon meetings, which we found made us more alert at the end of the day, and for the duration of the meeting we were more attentive rather than being in danger of day dreaming. 

7. Inattentiveness

This brings me to my next point: attentiveness. Being inattentive and not actually listening to what our colleagues and clients are saying because our minds are distracted can lead to us needing things repeated. This goes back to my earlier point about timekeeping. We need to stay focused on the task in hand in order to avoid wasting time and to excel at the task in hand.

8. Poor grammar

In a country where we study English until the age of 16, so many people are still unable to differentiate between ‘you’re’ and ‘your’. The Wall Street Journal argues that poor grammar illustrates poor attention to detail and as so many positions nowadays require a high level of accuracy, poor grammar is a demonstration of someone who doesn’t pay attention.

9. Speaking too soon

Speaking too soon is definitely something we should avoid. By speaking too soon, not only do we often interrupt our colleagues, but we also don’t gather the full story and in turn, end up making assumptions. By listening carefully to the full story, we get a better picture of what our colleagues are saying and are then able to make more informed judgements.

10. Taking your colleagues for granted

There is no reason to be ungrateful for anyone in your working environment. If they are more senior than you, be grateful for what they can teach you – learn from their experience, listen to them and pick their brains. If they are a more junior colleague, be thankful for their assistance, to their contribution to the team and their support function within the team or the business. When we’re working in the same place every day, it is easy to forget that we are all in the workplace to contribute to an organisation, and lifting up one another through giving thanks goes a long way in making people feel appreciated. Show gratitude for your colleagues, and they will show gratitude in return.  
For more careers advice including tips on developing your personal brand, interview advice and CV writing pointers visit our candidate resources section. Candidate resources

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