Updated: Jun 13
Despite our best efforts, none of us are perfect, but we can try and keep seeking ways to improve ourselves. There’s no undesirable habit we cannot overcome as long as we are deliberately shedding them and we keep holding ourselves accountable. The benefits of intentional self-improvement are numerous and long-lasting. Your future self will be grateful.
Here are 5 common unhealthy work habits , including tips on how to overcome them:
1) Mindless Scrolling: A lot of people struggle with this. It might start by gifting yourself a ‘little break’ after accomplishing a task, but then the little break begins to bleed into several hours of unproductive social media usage until you realize the whole day has gone by. Other times, you are not comfortable being bored so you crave the dopamine social media interactions tend to give. The end result? You get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where you feel the need to fill every nanosecond with stimulation. This in fact, is what Social Media was designed to do.
Watch: The Social Dilemma
All these small moments of unproductive screen time adds up over time, so that when you track your screen time usage, it dawns on you that you spend a concerning amount of time just scrolling on social media with no other intent but to be kill boredom. While social media can be a tool for growth—to learn, create valuable connections and even be entertained—it can also be the very thing that is distracting us from achieving our goals. It’s essential to honestly evaluate the relationship you have with these platforms and how they grow or stunt your professional development. Perhaps, if you didn’t spend so much time watching Instagram reels or TikTok videos, you might have met that deadline? Or maybe you did meet the deadline, but the quality of the work you submitted could have been better? Perhaps, if you were not mindlessly scrolling through your phone you would have finished your online courses? Or generally, you could have been the best version of yourself because you were focused and never took your eyes off the prize to stare at your screen .
Tips on how to stop mindless scrolling:
- Curate your feed to show only people and accounts that motivate you to complete tasks and focus on the bigger picture. This makes it harder to fall into the rabbit hole of mindless scrolling.
- Get some extra help by downloading screen-time limitation apps that leave you with no other choice than to focus.
2) Tardiness: Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well. So, if you are going to show up, show up on time.
When you constantly show up late, your day gets thrown out of sync and you communicate to the people you work with, who constantly have to tweak their schedules to accommodate your avoidable absence, that you do not value their time. If you are going to level up in your artistic pursuit, it is important that the people around you perceive you as reliable. That can’t happen when you are never punctual.
If you struggle with tardiness:
- Work out exactly how long it will take you to be somewhere, then incorporate extra time. The trick is not to plan on being there on time, aim to be (at the very least) 15 minutes early.
- Set a lot of alarms. After carrying out the aforementioned tip, set an alarm for the time you have to start getting ready to leave and another for when you actually have to leave the house. You can throw in one more alarm for whenever the appointment is set to begin. Frequent audible reminders draw your attention if ever you lose track of time.
3) Overworking yourself: Whenever people think of unhealthy work habits, the first thing that pops up in their mind is: Yikes, I’m working too little! However, working too much can be just as deleterious.
Workaholism is an actual mental condition. As the name suggests, it is characterized by the uncontrollable need to work in order to earn money, achieve success or escape emotional stress, despite the negative effects it has on your life—increased anxiety, constant fatigue, heightened stress levels, increased conflict in interpersonal relationships and increased substance abuse.
Tips to stop overworking yourself:
- Be intentional about giving yourself specific, planned out break. You aren’t a machine and you deserve rest. Lunch breaks? Please take them. Your annual break? Yes, book that flight. Public Holidays? Go read a book or something, those e-mails can wait!
- For those working from home, set strict boundaries by clearly communicating your working hours to those you work with as well as friends and family. Since you struggle with maintaining a healthy work-life balance, measures like these will be instrumental in providing a clear distinction between the ‘work’ and ‘home’ aspects of your life and can avoid these two aspects of your life from clashing with each other.
4) Poor Communication: This usually occurs when there is a discrepancy between what is said and what is heard, whether it be between colleagues or between an employee and a manager. It also happens when you ignore emails and miss meetings. To achieve success at your workplace, you must be able to effectively communicate with others, or else, you not only run the risk of creating conflict in the workplace but also run the risk of having your job expectations unmet.
Here’s how to communicate effectively:
- Before committing to tasks with details that you’re not fully clear about, ask questions.
- Rather than ignoring difficult news, process crucial issues by considering the worst that can happen if the issues are not addressed promptly. Speak up! Just because something is difficult doesn’t make it necessarily wrong.
5) Working with no goals: Setting short-term and long-term career goals are essential in order to provide structure in the work that you do. When you have no specific plans, you tend to waste valuable time focusing on projects that are less crucial in the grand scheme of things. Other times, lack of proper planning means you get overwhelmed with a plethora of tasks.
Here is a solution to this:
- We suggest you start using a to-do list or planner to precisely state your activities for the day, week and even the year! A visual of the things you plan on doing to get to where you need to be will make the work way more manageable.
What undesirable work traits are you trying to let go of and how are you letting go of them?