Bad work habits are leaden anchors, dragging down productivity and stopping your career's forward momentum. Luckily, you're the captain of this ship. You have the power to cut loose your bad habits, straighten course, and progress in your professional journey.
Now, I won't lie. Letting go of your bad habits is hard work. It's an ongoing process that takes time, dedication, and no small amount of willpower. But ask anyone who's ever strived for success, and they'll tell you — eliminating bad habits is the only way to unlock your potential and reach your goals.
Fortunately, you don't have to do it alone. There are various tools and methods you can use to make the process faster and easier. In this guide, we'll discuss common bad work habits and helpful solutions you can begin implementing today.
What are work habits?
Work habits are the routine actions and thought patterns you engage in during and while preparing for work. These routine behaviors are typically performed subconsciously and automatically, so deeply ingrained in your day-to-day workflow that you rarely think about doing them.
Why are these work habits so important? Research suggests that habits comprise 40% (or more) of the average workday. That's nearly half of your entire shift! With so much time spent performing your work habits, they end up playing a massive role in your productivity — sometimes for better, other times for worse.
Why are some work habits bad?
Like all habits, work habits can be good or bad, a blessing or a curse. It all depends on how they impact your output.
First, let's touch on good work habits. These good behaviors help with efficiency, keeping you focused and alert while improving the fruits of your labor. They put much of your day-to-day busy work on autopilot, freeing up time and energy for more challenging, complex, and novel tasks.
Meanwhile, bad work habits have the opposite effect. They disrupt your ability to get good work done in a time-efficient manner. And, they make it hard for you to improve, actively holding you down and stunting your professional growth.
"Make no mistake about it. Bad habits are called 'bad' for a reason. They kill our productivity and creativity. They slow us down. [And] they hold us back from achieving our goals." - John Rampton
Bad Work Habits Examples
Everyone has a combination of good and bad work habits unique to their personality and circumstances. Even so, most people struggle with a similar handful of issues. These commonalities make it much easier to identify the most problematic habits and suggest solutions proven to help.
With that in mind, here's a look at some of the most common bad work habits and potential ways to fix them.
1. Showing Up Late
Have you ever hit the snooze button one too many times and ended up late for work? Usually, it's no big deal — things happen. But problems arise once you make it a habit. Consistently showing up late doesn't just throw your day out of sync. It also affects your coworkers, disrupting their schedules as they scramble to accommodate your absence.
If you're having trouble showing up on time, consider waking up an hour earlier (you may also need to adjust your bedtime routine). For the heavy sleepers out there, pair your earlier wakeup with an alarm clock across the room. This will force you out of bed and into the next phase of your morning routine.
Putting things off may ease stress in the moment. But that stress doesn't just disappear; it brews in the background and grows potency. Meanwhile, you still have a job to finish — only now, with less time and more stress! The end result? You scramble to complete your project and get it in on time, leading to a lackluster finished product and a heavy dose of exhaustion.
Instead of getting overwhelmed and procrastinating, try scheduling small sections of time throughout the week to work on whatever project's causing stress. Smaller, bite-sized tasks are easier to manage and far less imposing.
3. Missing Deadlines
Deadlines are stressful. According to a survey by Career Cast, they're the most stressful element we face at work. But deadlines are there for a reason.
Look at it this way — the business world is like a finely tuned clock, the culmination of many moving parts and pieces. If you miss a deadline, it throws the pendulum out of balance and creates timetable issues across your organization.
If you keep missing reasonable deadlines, you need to schedule more time for your projects and start holding yourself accountable. If the deadlines are genuinely unreasonable (be honest with yourself), it's time to speak with your supervisor about unrealistic time constraints.
4. Working Too Much
When people think of bad work habits, they usually think about working too little. However, working too much can be just as damaging.
Work addiction is a genuine, diagnosable ailment with serious health consequences. You need to give yourself time to relax, recharge, and enjoy the finer things in life, or else you risk stress-related ailments and full-blown burnout.
In a twist of irony, overworking also reduces your output quality, harming the very company you're trying to help.
Getting your workaholism under control is a multi-stage process. First, you need to take your breaks. Experts recommend breaks every one to two hours, with enough time to get up, stretch, and catch a breath. Second, you need to address the number of hours you work each week. There's no optimal number suitable for every person, but the average of 40 per week is a reasonable target recommended by many experts.
5. Being Disorganized
The average knowledge worker spends nearly two hours daily searching for information, with a good chunk of that time spent on previously-accessed files and documents.
In other words, the data is clear — disorganization is destroying your efficiency and sabotaging your productivity. Yes, we all let our desks get messy from time to time, and everyone loses things on occasion. But these should be rare exceptions, not habits.
Get organized! Set aside time to clean up your physical and digital environments, and make a steadfast commitment to keep it that way. You can also schedule regular tune-ups (say, once a week for 15 minutes) where you tidy up your workspace.
6. Using Unclear Communication
Good communication is clear, concise, and direct — and it's the cornerstone of every successful business. On the flip side? That's where you'll find poor, unclear communication full of vague or ambiguous language that fails to adequately address business dealings. This type of communication is more than just annoying; it can result in companywide confusion and sabotage productivity.
If you struggle with unclear communication, ask a colleague or supervisor for constructive feedback on how you can improve. Don't be discouraged if things don't get better immediately; business and customer communication are soft skills that take time to change. One way to hasten the process is to implement a video tool like Loom, providing clarifying screen recordings and other visuals alongside your text-based or spoken words.
7. Isolating From Your Team
Although struggling with isolation won't apply to everyone, introverts know precisely what I'm talking about. The rise of remote working has made it easier than ever to hide away from the rest of your team, and that's not a good thing.
Even if socializing feels stressful, workplace connections are critical for productivity and general wellbeing. Only one percent of people (yes, that's one out of every 100) feel fulfilled without meaningful workplace connections, and those who feel unsatisfied at work tend to perform at suboptimal capacity.
Instead of isolating completely, consider stepping out of your shell on occasion. Make it a goal to communicate with at least one person daily, and try to develop a habit of reaching out with questions and sharing your valuable contributions.
8. Scheduling Too Many Meetings
The opposite problem of isolating yourself is scheduling too many meetings with colleagues. It's commendable that you want to collaborate and keep in contact with coworkers. But our data shows that scheduling and rescheduling meetings cost companies over $1.85 billion each year. Instead of slinging around meeting invites like they're Halloween candy, save everyone some time and find a different way to communicate.
You can replace most meetings with a Loom. Record your screen to send an async video update instead of scheduling a long meeting.
9. Not Providing Context Before a Meeting
Your meeting may be necessary. But chances are, you'll spend 40% of it on unproductive filler. That's a ton of time wasted for you and your colleagues. Keep this in mind as you're scheduling the next meeting. And, only proceed if you can set clear expectations and identify an actionable resolution.
Don't just schedule meetings; give your recipients some context to help them prepare (and let them decline the meeting, if applicable). Send a short Loom video outlining the topic and discussing what you expect from each guest. Once the meeting starts, you can cut right to the chase without wasting anyone's time with introductory filler.
10. Being Overly Negative
A dose of realism is important, but overly negative thinking does more harm than good. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to get stuck in the habit of negative thinking, as it tends to feed into and amplify itself. The worst part? It doesn't just bring you down; when voiced out loud, it can sour the mood for everyone in the space.
Try to catch your negative thoughts as they surface in your mind. Meditation can aid this process, helping you be more aware and present. If the negative thinking persists, it may be time to seek advice from a trusted friend or counselor.
11. Finding Problems Without Proposing Solutions
It's easy to spot problems. After all, there's always room to improve. But finding problems without offering actionable solutions only exacerbates the issue without affecting real change.
When you spot a problem, try solving things yourself. If that doesn't work, brainstorm a few solutions you can recommend to management.
How Loom Helps With Bad Work Habits
Fixing your bad work habits is challenging, often feeling like it requires superhuman strength and willpower to enact the smallest of changes. That's why it's crucial to replace your bad work habits with something easy and intuitive — something that slips into your existing workflow and feels like second nature right from the start. This is where Loom comes in.
Loom is asynchronous video communication software you can use to capture your screen and webcam in a single click. It replaces many of your existing work processes with a simple, stress-free platform that you can use in nearly any situation.
Here are a few ways Loom can help you curb your bad habits:
Provides an easy, seamless solution. Loom doesn't deplete your precious (and potentially finite) willpower. That's because the platform is so easy to use, taking less than five minutes to learn and set up. You can also host your videos with Loom and share them with colleagues via a short link, making it a seamless pairing with traditional channels like Slack and email.
Cuts down on wasted meeting time. Loom helps you prepare colleagues for meetings, cutting out the fluff and getting you straight to the point. Loom videos can also entirely replace some meetings, saving precious time and allowing everybody to return to work with minimal interruption.
Streamlines and clarifies communication. No more wasting time typing out long (and potentially confusing) email and Slack messages. Loom webcam videos let you capture the rich context in your tone of voice and facial expressions. With Loom screen recordings, you can also highlight important visuals and ensure everyone is on the same page — literally and figuratively.
Supports everyone in your organization. Async communication tools work for everyone. Loom helps introverts feel comfortable voicing their opinions and allows extroverts to share ideas with their entire team. Your coworkers can also comment and react to your looms after the fact (or even reply with a loom of their own), ensuring everyone interacts in the most efficient way possible.
Of course, these are only some of the ways Loom helps people shake their bad work habits. Try Loom for yourself, and see how it can help you boost your productivity and achieve your long-term goals.