10 Habits That Hold You Back At Work

June 5, 2015

by Ravi Raman

Most articles on workplace productivity have a tendency to focus on the positives. While that is helpful, it is also important to cover attitudes and habits that may be holding you back. These negative habits are not often addressed, but they are equally important. Positive change can be outweighed by the persistence of poor actions. In terms of succeeding on the job, the following ten behaviors are definitely detrimental!

1. Poor Time Management

The leading cause of poor output is an inability to properly manage a schedule. Everyone who is serious about their work should use a calendar to track tasks and meetings. A lot of work can be crammed into a single day, but time can also quickly go to waste when it is not managed. Using a  planner can change everything for a lackluster worker, and with even a little structure to their day, they will witness a rapid transformation.

2. Succumbing to Procrastination

Today’s world is filled with more distractions than any workers have dealt with in history. Fast-paced media has cultivated a culture of shorter attention spans, so procrastination inevitably ensues. There are a lot of activities that can be considered time wasters, and all of them have lasting effects on your output. To eliminate interruptions, you need to be vigilant around your use of technology, to make sure you aren’t browsing Facebook or reading the news when you should be having that tough conversation with a customer or co-worker! Here are 17 more tips to overcome procrastination.

3. Confusing Busyness for Productivity

Many people wear themselves out with work that is wholly unnecessary. While they may feel productive, the truth is that they are just being busy. This is an entirely different thing, and it is actually bad for the organization overall. Ultimately, performing useless tasks simply amounts to wasting your own precious energy and keeping you from doing the things really matter. Only commit to tasks that have an objective and a timeline. If there is no timeline, create one! This will ensure steady progress towards the fulfillment of a desired outcome.

4. Acclimating to Disorganization

Even the best people get slowed down by clutter. Messy office spaces have always posed a threat to productivity, but today’s clutter extends to the virtual realm. A poorly managed computer can waste hours of  time, especially if files get misplaced or erased. Poor organization is a habit that must be stopped. When everything is neatly arranged, there are no longer delays or mistakes caused by searching for or misplacing things.

BTW, my wife just read this book, The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. She used the principles from the book to re-organize our home in a single day. It’s pretty remarkable how simple and effective the methods in the book are. They can be applied to your office or even your computer files as well.

5. Being Inflexible

Adaptability is vital for success in any office. People who cannot compromise and be flexible will have a hard time going far in their career. One individual’s inflexibility can often hold a whole company back. Meanwhile, a willingness to change enables the chance to meet new challenges and solve unexpected problems. An open mind is always important, especially for people who want to take on more expansive company roles.

6. Avoiding External Input

Once in a while, there will be a stubborn person that is always convinced of their rightness. By believing in the superiority of their own ways, they fail to include the thoughts and ideas of others. This single-minded thinking usually cannot account for all possible risks, and people who work in this way inevitable end up making poor decisions as a result. Listening is the only way to preemptively catch every potential problem. Productive and successful people are taught to emphasize everyone’s point of view in the workplace.

7. Losing Sight of Goals

The worst habit possible for people at work is a tendency to not make any goals. In a sense, it can be just as bad to have goals that you don’t fulfill. Both of these behaviors inhibit productivity before it has a chance to take root. People are only successful when they have an achievable aim in mind. Actualizing a big goal can be a tremendous reward. Without goals, there are no mechanisms of positive reinforcement to keep you moving forward.

8. Neglecting Cooperation

The best companies have teams that excel at working together. As such, behaving like a loner is an unwanted habit within professional fields. Productive people are sociable and collaborative. Remember, even one maladjusted outsider can cause a lot of issues for an entire organization at large. In high pressure situations, there cannot be a single weak link! All roles must be handled equally; otherwise, the entire operation can be hindered by a single non-contributor.

9. Abdicating Responsibility

When things go awry at work, the worst response is to blame someone else, especially if you had a hand in the problem. Those who never notice their shortcomings are not able to fix them. As a result, it is always best to admit fault if you make a mistake. This allows the difficulty to be avoided in the future. It also establishes credibility and integrity, which makes up for a slight malfeasance. Also, zero time will be wasted identifying a culprit if the wrongdoer just comes clean.

10. Failing to Keep a Clear Mind

A preoccupied mind will obstruct productivity worse than anything else. There are many psychological states that can be damaging to mental clarity. Without sharp thinking skills, being creative and doing your best work becomes almost impossible. To get rid of this bad habit, simply look into calming exercises like yoga and meditation. By finding an energetic outlet for emotions, it is easy to gain critical thought processes without the interference of unwanted feelings. In truth, nothing can stop someone who possesses extreme concentration and focus!


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