7 Bad Work Habits You Need to Change Right Now

Have you been at your job for a long time? That’s both a good and bad thing. It’s good to have a stable job, but it can also be bad if you start to relax too much. Once you’ve been at a job for a while, it’s tempting to get comfortable. Unfortunately, if you get too comfy, you can sometimes develop horrible work habits. Here are seven bad habits you need to stop practicing today.

1. Showing up late

Man looking at watch
Make an effort to be on time for work. | iStock.com

Maybe you’re not a morning person, but you’re going to have to learn to wake up earlier if you want to keep your job. Consistently arriving after your agreed-upon start time not only shows lack of discipline but also disrespect for your manager and co-workers. Roughly 1 in 4 workers admitted to being late at least once a month. Even worse, about 13% said they’re late once a week, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.
If you have a valid reason for the lateness, arrange a meeting with your boss to explain your situation. Most of the time, ignoring the problem and hoping it will go unnoticed will not work in your favor. An employer will eventually grow weary of your tardiness and fire you for disregarding company policy. About 1 in 5 of employers CareerBuilder surveyed said they have fired an employee for tardiness.

2. Dressing poorly

Man choosing a shirt
People might judge you at work by the clothes you wear. | iStock.com

There’s no excuse for looking sloppy at work. How you look matters because it shows you respect your employer and you are serious about your job. Simply throwing on whatever falls out of your closet isn’t a great idea. Perrie Samotin, editorial director at fashion site StyleCaster, said dressing well for work is a must, even if you work in a casual environment.

It’s still work you’re going to every day — not a social outing — and should be treated as such. … Even if you work in a freewheeling creative environment or an exceptionally stylish industry or office, there are still certain fashion choices that should be reserved for your out of office time. Plus, when we start a job, most of us will sign a contract that includes the phrase ‘at-will employment,’ which means that technically, your boss can fire you if she or he doesn’t like your outfit choices. Of course, it’s rare that that’ll happen without several notices, but contractually speaking, it is a possibility.

3. Refusing to be a team player

Businessman stressed and angry in office
Be a team player, and you’ll be happier than this guy. | iStock.com

Even if you don’t like people, it’s important to learn to work well with your co-workers. Being uncooperative, unavailable, or just plain rude is a sure way to kill your career. Work on improving your attitude, or do some soul-searching to see whether your job or career are really the best fit for you.
Leadership expert Peter B. Stark said having team spirit is necessary for the success of a company. “Team members do not have to like teamwork,” Stark said. “They do not even have to believe that the formation of the team was a good idea. But team members are supposed to do everything that they can, in their particular job, to make the team successful. That is their job.”

4. Taking too many breaks

man taking a break at work
Reduce your breaks, and get more work done. | iStock.com

It’s OK to step away from your desk every now and then to stretch your legs or use the bathroom. It even improves productivity. A University of Illinois study found your attention span drops significantly after focusing on a task for an extended period of time. Short breaks increase your ability to focus on a task.
On the other hand, if you have a habit of taking breaks that are too long or you’re taking too many unnecessary breaks, it’s time to exercise some discipline. It’s tough to regain your focus if you keep stopping to get coffee, get a snack, or chat with co-workers. It’s also unfair to team members who have to pick up your slack when you’re out.

5. Complaining

unhappy man at work
Instead of complaining, offer solutions. | iStock.com

Sometimes it’s wise to follow the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Constant complaining is bad for your team’s morale. It also shows a lack of appreciation for your job.
Instead of complaining, offer solutions. Being the employee who always complains could also cause your teammates to like you less. Experts suggest likeable employees get a lot further in their careers. So do yourself and your colleagues a favor, and be quiet or work on solutions to the challenges affecting your team.

6. Talking too much

 Stressed business people at work
Learn to quiet your mouth at work. | Liaison

Every office has one: the co-worker who just doesn’t know when to be quiet. Are you that person everyone tries to get away from? If so, work on being more aware of when you’ve overstayed your welcome at someone’s cubicle or when you’re dominating a work discussion. If your colleagues start to look annoyed or make excuses to get away from you, these could be clues that your mouth needs to take a little break. Being too chatty not only prevents you from getting work done, it also hampers the work of others. Career expert Alison Green said on her blog, Ask a Manager:

People who regularly spend significant chunks of work time socializing (or doing any other non-work-related activity) are people who are unquestionably less productive than those who don’t. It’s a disservice to themselves and their employers, and it betrays a completely different work ethic and relationship to work than what great employees want in coworkers.

7. Taking too many personal calls

young woman holding cellphone in hands on the street in summer
Cut back on personal calls, and focus on your work. | iStock.com/fizkes

Roughly 24% of workers said they spend at least an hour a day checking personal email, texting, and taking personal calls, according to a Harris Poll survey conducted for CareerBuilder. About 50% of respondents said they spend the majority of their work day texting and talking on their mobile phone.
Remember you’re at work, not at home. It’s nice your family members want to know how you’re doing, but excessive personal calls are distracting at work. Instead, set aside time during your lunch break to take calls from loved ones. Unless there is an emergency, long personal conversations should be avoided during the work day. By setting aside a specific time for these calls, you’ll be able to focus on your work, and you won’t disturb co-workers who are within earshot.
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