Stop It: Six Bad Workplace Habits to Ditch Right Now

February 17, 2015



Here we are in mid February—have you taken the pulse of your New Year’s Resolutions lately? Do they even have a pulse at this point? If you’ve lost sight of your goals, don’t let that get you down. 2015 has just begun, which means there’s still plenty of time for self-improvement!

In this two-part series, we’ll look at six workplace habits that you should quit doing (now-ish) and six positive habits that you can replace them with. Let’s start with the bad & ugly.

  1. Delete your email habit. As we pointed out in a recent RecogNation article, there are times when email is the most constructive form of communication. But, too often, we use it more out of habit or convenience (our own) than out of practicality. When you realize you’re spending hours out of your day managing your emails, or stopping what you’re doing every time a new one arrives, or needing follow-up conversations to get clarity on a message, you know it’s time for an intervention. Read the article “Is the Speed of Email Slowing You Down? to learn more!


  1. Stand up to sitting down. This one pairs nicely with #1 in that if you cut down your reliance on email, you’ll have to get up from your desk more often. At least that’s what I do, rather than pick up the phone, because I can combine a good stretch and a little blood circulation with a productive, face-to-face conversation. Even if you don’t have a need or reason to get up, you still should, considering the serious consequences of sitting for long periods. And, eating lunch at your desk? Just say no. You may feel like you don’t have time for a break, but the reality is, you don’t have time not to. Even short breaks provide real productivity boosts that will give you back that down time two-fold. And, you won’t get the hairy eyeball from your neighboring co-workers who may not appreciate the aroma of limburger and sardines as much as you.    


  1. Put your phone on hold. Unless you are awaiting an important call in which life or limb are at risk, it’s likely you can leave your phone at your desk for your next meeting. We’ve seen it here: once one person brings his/her phone to the table, it opens the floodgates and then everyone does. Pretty soon, all attendees are disengaged and the meeting becomes an exercise in herding cats. If this sounds familiar, you can reverse the situation by first setting an example yourself—and then encouraging others to join you on your phone-free-meetings crusade. In time, you will have a new normal. And, focus will remain on the matters at hand, not the devices in hand.


  1. Take time to be punctual. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, but if being late is your norm, not your exception, then it’s time to change your ways. For one, others could view you as unreliable or disinterested—or both. Worse, they may feel that you don’t respect their time, or you believe yours is more valuable than theirs. Now your harmless, “oh, they can start without me… nobody is missing me, anyway…” tardiness just became a stain on your name and a potential roadblock to future opportunities. Ouch!      


  1. Limit yourself to one face a day. This is my favorite. I learned its importance about 15 years ago when I had the opportunity to attend a weeklong “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” workshop. At work and in our personal lives, it can be tempting to talk about others when they can’t hear you. Their shortcomings, a way that they made you upset, personal details that they’d rather be private. It may seem harmless, especially if you’ve made an effort to ensure it doesn’t get back to them. However, the problem is not just that you aren’t being “loyal to the absent, you are also instilling in those who are present that you can’t be trusted. They will wonder what you’ll say about them when they’ve left the room. And, once you get a reputation for being duplicitous, it can be difficult to rebuild your character.


  1. Loosen your grip on your gripes. A co-worker and I are in the midst of a 30-day minimalism challenge, and the first task we chose was to have a “no-complaint” day. We both succeeded, but we did have to catch ourselves several times. The moral? It’s easy to fall into complaint mode, but if you make an effort to be conscious of it, it’s just as easy to stop yourself before the grumbles and groans come out. And, the result? A more positive outlook for you and a more pleasant environment for those around you. Try it!


What do you think? Are these do-able? Stay tuned! Tomorrow, we’ll share six positive habits guaranteed to improve you, your environment, your relationships, & more.


Allison is currently living out the elaborate fantasy she described to her now-former staff and colleagues in early 2001. With a hearty dose of courage and absolutely no plan of action, she abruptly left her middle-management job to become a writer—and today she is doing just that in her role as Baudville's Senior Content Writer. She's here to tell you everything she's learned in her 20-years+ professional life, plus a lot more. She's wordy like that!

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