According to the online Oxford dictionary, a habit is an automatic reaction to a specific situation. We usually engage in habits, good or bad, because of the reward we receive through doing the action. Let us take a look at the three most common bad work habits:
This is probably the deadliest bad habit, especially for freelancers or entrepreneurs. Procrastination can occur when you make long personal calls, surf the web for unrelated information or don’t undertake a project because you fear failure. The best way to beat procrastination is to drop it. If you fear failure and this inhibits you in doing your work, then write down what your fears are. You will see that many of them are easy to overcome. So put on your boots and do the things you fear. They will not go away, and the longer you leave them the bigger they will become. Nip the fear in the bud before it becomes a monster.
2. Being late for meetings
This habit could lead to you losing many potential work opportunities. It is important to be punctual for meetings because if you are late, you will cause a disruption when you arrive and the speaker will have to revise what has been said. You can break this habit by setting your watch a few minutes earlier so that you are always running a little ahead of time.
If your workspace is cluttered and you are always digging through piles to access important documents, then it is time to reassess. By having an organized desk, you will become more productive because your information will be at your fingertips. You can also make a point of taking the last few minutes of your work day to plan for the following day so that when you walk into your office you know which task to tackle without wondering where to begin.
These are but three of the bad habits that can negatively influence your productivity. But what do you do if some of these are already entrenched in your behaviour? Here are some steps you can take to breaking bad habits.
STEP 1: Make the decision to break a bad habit
By choosing to break a bad habit, your chances of succeeding in doing so will increase. If you have no desire to break it, then you will probably struggle to achieve this.
STEP 2: Write down your bad work habits
Identify what your bad work habits are. Are you a procrastinator? Do you always arrive late for meetings or work? Do you dress professionally? Do you surf the internet for personal reasons? Do you constantly check your email? Are you noisy or disruptive in the workspace? When you have identified your bad work habits, put them in order of importance, with the ones which may lead to you being unemployed at the top and the less important ones after that.
STEP 3: Make a plan
Once you have identified the most important bad habit, draw up a plan on how to break it. Write down the steps you will take when you are triggered. For example, if you react to every email you get when it comes in, then set an alarm to attend to emails every hour so that you can concentrate on your work for a block of time. In addition, ensure that your email alert is switched off. You may feel productive by replying to your email instantly but if it interrupts your critical tasks then you will not have completed the important work you set yourself for the day.
STEP 4: Give yourself an incentive
If you have managed to stick to your new way in dealing with your bad habit, then reward yourself. It might be a day at the spa, or even just going for a cup of coffee.
STEP 5: Be gentle on yourself
Breaking bad habits takes time and sometimes you may slip back into them. But it is important to persevere. You have formed this habit over a time so it will take time to get used to the new habits which you have replaced it with.
By following these tips you will be well on your way to cracking your bad habit and creating new and productive good habits. It just takes perseverance and the desire to make the change. Remember this Yiddish proverb: ‘Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow.’
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