We all have days at work when we feel more energized than others.
But there are certain habits that consistently sap productivity and lead to poor results.
Many of these bad habits are ones we don’t even realize we’re doing, or downplay as no big deal.
But over time they can make a huge dent in our ability to be a productive and valuable team member at work or an effective earner if we’re self-employed.
Here are the bad work habits to cut out if you want to become much more effective and productive.
I’ve been guilty of this myself and still indulge from time to time.
Tab-maxing, as I call it, is when you start opening multiple tabs of videos, songs, articles, social media pages and random things while at work.
You open the tabs in order to look later so you don’t lose them and promise yourself you’ll look later. Then, before you know it, you’re taking a short break from work that’s stretched to half an hour and reading through a bizarre Twitter thread and the responses to it.
Then you go back to work and start looking for a rare song by the Monkees on YouTube a few minutes later.
Tab-maxing is a huge cause of procrastination and if you’ve been doing it a lot it’s time to cut down or cut it out altogether.
2) Posting or scrolling excessively
Posting or scrolling excessively are both related to tab-maxing, but can take many forms.
I can’t count how many times I used to work while also keeping my phone close by and checking it frequently.
Other examples include just keeping one or two tabs open, having Whatsapp open and messaging people throughout the workday.
Many of us do it, but it cuts down productivity in fundamental ways.
Reducing how much you post or scroll will make you way more productive.
The previous point ties into the overall issue of procrastination.
When you procrastinate at work, it’s not always out of laziness. We all work in different ways and you may have developed procrastination as a way to give yourself mini-breaks in between intense work.
But overall procrastination decreases productivity because it puts off what needs to be done.
When we give in to procrastination, we also give into an undisciplined mindset, which can affect every area of our lives as well as work.
If you find you’re procrastinating a lot at work it’s time to take it seriously!
4) Gossiping with colleagues
We all gossip from time to time, but work isn’t the place for it.
Gossip and trading rumors and idle chit chat can be fun, but it ends up leading to a huge loss of productivity.
The main reason is the actual time spent chatting and gossiping, but there’s also an aftereffect.
This is the fact that whatever is gossiped about, especially if it’s juicy, is going to linger in your mind for hours and maybe even days.
This all leads to less productivity.
5) Arguing and debating with coworkers
Interesting discussions and debates can be excellent learning experiences.
But unless your job involves this kind of debate such as politics, law or media, then it’s best to avoid at work.
Debating coworkers if you’re working in construction or architecture or real estate is only going to distract you from the job you have to do.
The only exception is when the discussion or argument is directly related to the work being done.
For example, maybe you and your colleagues are arguing over the best supplier for materials for the new contract and what offers the best value and quality.
6) Flirting or dating with colleagues
The odd bit of flirting at work is fine, in my opinion, as long as it’s not pushy and it’s only done when the other person reciprocates.
Telling somebody they have a nice smile isn’t going to ruin their day!
In fact, it may even increase their productivity.
But flirting too much at work as well as dating a coworker is generally a recipe for lack of productivity.
It’s very hard to focus on work and stay busy when you’d rather be getting busy with somebody.
7) Complaining and venting during work hours
Complaining in general is something that’s good to avoid.
Unless you’re complaining about something specific you want changed, it can end up feeding into a cycle of endless victimization and negativity.
Now and then you’re going to want to vent, of course, but work isn’t really the place for it.
Unless you’re working as a demolition expert or boxing trainer, there’s not usually that much opportunity to vent at work.
Save it for the gym or for a locale that’s more appropriate and well-chosen for your psychological relief.
Treating work as your vent space is a big cause of losing productivity and blurring the lines between work and personal.
Lastly on a very practical note is the issue of commuting.
The pandemic showed many people the advantages (and disadvantages) of remote work.
One of the big advantages was less commuting, which is good for the environment and for productivity.
It’s hard to put in a highly productive day when you’re exhausted from hours in traffic or a stressful, noisy, smelly time on the subway.
If possible, see about getting a job closer to home, working hybrid (partly at home) or going fully remote if you feel confident that remote work is somewhere you can be productive.
All work and no play?
None of us are machines. We all need a break sometimes!
The harder you work, the more you crave an ice-cold drink or a relaxing bath with some soothing music in the background.
Maybe a loud party with strobe lights is more your style, or sometimes at the batting cage or the driving range.
The key is to work when you work and play when you play.
The habits above all show a lack of discipline and an attempt to “water down” work and make it more palatable.
If that’s happening then it’s either:
a) You don’t like your work or are not committed to it;
b) You like your work but you lack discipline and work ethic.
If option a is the case then you need to be doing what’s in your power to find new work or find a better motivation for why you’re working!
If option b is the case then you need to start working on building your discipline and work ethic.
I recommend this video from Patrick Bet-David as a good place to start:
Work it good
When you become more productive at work, you also start to get more job satisfaction.
This can obviously be hard if you don’t like your job much or feel that you’re stuck in it, and I realize that finding a new job isn’t always easy.
If that’s you, don’t give up…
In my case, dissatisfaction with some past jobs is part of what led me to writing and eventually making my own career shaped more closely around my interests and passions.
If you feel like you’re just stuck in the rat race with no way out and you’re not sure what to do, this video is also an excellent starting point: