I think we can all agree- no matter the profession, hours worked, what country we are employed in, etc. we have all had “bad” days at work. Lately I’ve noticed a pattern with friends, family, colleagues, people online and even myself. We easily complain about work yet oftentimes there is an easy solution and way to remedy the very issue that is being talked about. While we can not change other’s poor work behavior, we can change ours. It is important to take a step back and examine if everything we are doing is truly benefitting our work lives. I guarantee, no one is the perfect employee because we’re human- there is at least one thing we can all work on improving. I put together a list of 11 popular bad habits I’ve observed other’s execute and at times, myself. Whether one, all or a few of these points resonate with you, that’s okay. This isn’t the “I suck. I’m a horrible employee” hour. This is growth! It is equally important to recognize our strengths and weaknesses- especially within the workplace.
I’ll be the first to admit I struggle with this one. Overworking is ultimately a bad habit because we burn out. There’s only so many hours in the day, so much our brains can process and how many days in a row we can keep up a crazy work pace. It seems like nowadays it’s shocking to find someone who works one job. The new norm seems to be 2,3, 4 jobs or passion projects. The multiple projects/ companies/ passions are great, don’t get me wrong but the more going on, the greater the chance of being overworked and feeling burnt out. Despite having multiple jobs or working one with long and demanding hours, please remember to take time for self- care. Schedule time in your calendar to not work. It’s important to give your body a rest and unplug from the never ending to-do list you’ve seemed to be tackling for the past 6 months. The world will go on despite a task not being completed that second, I promise!
I am a firm believer in Juliet Funt’s WhiteSpace at work method and how “anything that bothers you at work is 50% your fault until you have asked for what you want”. Don’t settle. Don’t let self -imposed limitations hold you back. Nothing makes work less enjoyable than absolutely hating your job. The worst feeling is waking up in the morning dreading the day or feeling anxious at work. Do what you need to do to feel more joy during the workday. If it’s asking to be transferred to a new department, ask! If it’s job hunting or changing careers, start the process. You are not going to get to where you want to be or discover where you are meant to be by staying where you are.
Oh brother, this one kills more dreams than people ever will. Believing in yourself sounds easy but at times it can be so incredibly hard. At the end of the day, when you doubt yourself, you are ultimately the only one holding you back. Please don’t stand in your own way of success and happiness. If you’re unsure where to start and how to believe in yourself, research this topic a bit. There are endless books, documentaries, podcasts, motivating playlists, blog posts, etc. to help you uncover the tools needed specifically for you in order to be the best version of yourself and not stand in your own way. If you feel like your skills are lacking but you really want that promotion, brush up on a few things and take a class. There are a plethora of online options and a new skillset is only a click away. It’s like that saying.. it all begins and end in the mind. Make sure you’re using yours to your advantage and telling yourself positive and affirming things.
This is my biggest pet peeve at work. I don’t understand how people function with papers everywhere and without meetings, appointments and important dates written down or in a calendar. Not only is it setting yourself up for failure, but disorganization is incredibly disrespectful to the others in the office/ on your team. It’s unfair to waste other’s time while you could be searching for your notes while everyone else is prepared. Plus, who needs that extra anxiety or worry about forgetting something. Find a system that works for you and stick to it! If a paper and pen is what helps you, use that! There’s no wrong way to be organized as long as you are actually organized. If you’re stumped on how to organize, as friends, family and colleagues what they do and if that fails, consult my best friend, Mr. Google.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your position. See where the company is going and where you stand long term. Make sure you know where the ship is going and you’re comfortable with the destination.
6. poor Time Management
Nothing screams more “unprofessional” to me when someone comes running into a regular meeting late or who doesn’t bother to show up, who responds late to emails, who missed project deadlines, etc. Obviously things come up and there will be occasions when we miss deadlines. I have missed deadlines before but I quickly course corrected and manage my time as to not let that become habitual. It is incredibly off-putting as an industry professional, customer or prospective customer entering into business with someone who neglects to properly manage their time. You wouldn’t want a doctor operating on you who is rushing through an important surgery because they forgot about another surgery. While most of use are not in life and death time management situations, the principals still imply. Show self- respect and others in the workplace respect by having a better understanding of your schedule. Try not to overbook yourself. Nothing is worse than feeling rushed in a conversation. Allow enough time in between meetings to answer any additional questions or answer a few minutes of small talk. Also, be sure to show up to appointments on time and plan in advance how long a project will take for completion. There are oodles of time management suggestions out in the world- go explore and see which will work for you!
I touched on this one in the last point. Busy does not equate to productivity. Allow yourself time to be able to sit down to answer emails, for those unexpected phone calls, after hours networking events, new opportunities, etc. You don’t want to have such a tight grip on your schedule where there’s room to expand. While you’re schedule is helpful and my number 1 recommended resource for organization, there is such thing as too much dependency and over scheduling. No one appreciates feeling left on the back burned and ignored- don’t give co-workers, supervisors or clients this impression. While you may not intentionally neglect that relationship, to the person on the receiving end trying to track you down, it can be a major let down and come across as disrespectful, having a lack of commitment and it is distrusting.
8. lack of Discipline
Self- discipline is crucial in the workplace- especially for those with entrepreneurial or independent roles within a company. You can’t run the company alone, that’s why you have the job you do. It’s your responsibility as a conscientious employee to make sure the job you’re hired for is indeed completed. This not only affects your team and the company, but yourself with job security. Having self- discipline is a valuable asset in any team member and with life in general. Self- discipline is important because it displays your inner strength, dedication and equips you in reaching goals. Staying disciplined can be tough- especially during busy seasons or boring ones. A few ways to practice self- discipline is to set small attainable goals. At the start of the week write three things you would like to complete by Friday on a sticky note and place it on your desk. Another thing to do is to take a regular brain break. Every hour get up and walk around the office or the coffee shop you’re working out of. Take a 2-5 minute break and then get back to work.
9. failed Initiative
Having a lack of initiative or working with someone who is not motivated can be incredibly tough. Employees with a lack of motivation are known to slow down and hold back a team. Don’t let this be you. Do one thing to go above the basics. If you need 100 sales a year, go for 101. Don’t just meet the bare minimum. Take action to show you are invested in your job and value your employer/ employment. I like this post about how to take initiative at work. Definitely worth the read, plus the writer gives 17 tips on how to practice this!
10. Not Knowing When To Ask For Help
Asking for help does not mean you are incapable of performing the task or job at hand. Voicing when you need assistance and then accepting help sets you up for success in the long run as it saves time, burnout and overall frustration. We can’t do everything and that’s okay. Be aware of what your strengths are and then ask for help with completing tasks that may take time away from the more important and pressing projects. Asking for help shows strength, confidence and dedication. Plus, my respect for someone greatly increases when they ask for help as it demonstrates self- awareness. Nothing is more attractive in a teammate who understands when a task is better suited being explained again or handed off to someone else to complete.
11. Your Ego
You are not the best. Okay, maybe you are but please don’t act like it. Nothing is more distasteful in the workplace than someone who thinks they’re better, cooler, smarter, more- hardworking, etc. than others on their team. Nobody likes a Mr. or Mrs. know-it-all. Knock yourself down a few pegs and remember that at the end of the day everyone is trying to do their job, contributing to the constant factor in which everyone in the company is employed to grow the company. If your attitude interferes with the company’s growth, it’s safe to say HR can easily find someone as a replacement. It can be easy to form a god- complex; especially if you’re feeling particularly confident in your skillset and performance. Remember to celebrate the wins without dimming someone else’s accomplishments, stealing the spotlight or approaching others as “better than”.
Get on track- stop holding yourself back