How to Break Bad Habits at Work

How to Break Bad Habits at Work was originally published on Vault.

We’ve all got our own good and bad habits. When you’re stuck in a pattern of bad habits at work, it can be difficult to identify them. Even worse, bad habits can put you in a tough spot, with your boss constantly hovering over your shoulder and scrutinizing your every move. Today we’re going to talk about some common bad habits, and what you can do to get out of them. Let’s begin.

Smart Phone Use

Kicking off our list of bad work habits is the use of smart phones in the workplace. This is a widespread issue in today’s world, with many people habitually reaching for their phones at frequent intervals. You might be thinking this is all about your boss and getting caught using your phone often, which is also bad, but this has a lot to do with your focus and productivity.

A smart phone can be a major distraction from your work, and if you’re constantly trying to sneak some screen time in, you’ll be far more stressed than you would be if you focused your energy on your work tasks. To break this habit, turn your notifications off and leave your phone out of sight. If you’re still having trouble, leave your phone in your pocket or in a drawer at your desk, making sure to check your phone only during your designated break periods.

Checking Your Email Too Often

If you’ve got your email open and in front of you all day long, it can be very easy to check each and every email as it comes in. Like our last entry, this can be a huge distraction from the task you’re working on, and this habit can and will break your train of thought. The best way to handle this problem is to set aside times during the day to check and respond to your emails. This way you’ll be consistent with your responses, while also ensuring that you’re putting your time and energy into the task at hand.


That’s right, multitasking can have a negative impact on your productivity. The truth is, not many people can actually multitask effectively. To add to this, constantly switching back and forth between tasks breaks that train of thought we were talking about earlier. You’re much better off focusing on one task at a time, only switching when it’s necessary or if priorities have changed.

If you’re unsure of which tasks are most important, ask your boss to help you come up with a list of priorities so you know what you should be working on first. It’s never wrong to go to your boss with a question, as it will show that you’re willing to learn and take the initiative. Plus, having a list of priorities will make you far more productive and efficient, and that’s always a good thing.

Showing Up Late

Whether it’s an accident on the freeway, inclement weather conditions, a delayed train, or any number of other unfortunate scenarios, being late for work is unavoidable once in a while. In any of these situations your employer should give you a break, but if you’re consistently late for work it become a real problem. Chronic lateness will make your boss think you have a bad attitude or that you don’t care. In certain cases, being late can even lead to being let go from your job.

To remedy this problem, give yourself more time to get ready for work. If you wake up an hour earlier you won’t have to rush, and you’ll be way less stressed. Additionally, you won’t have to worry as much about any unforeseen traffic conditions, since you’ll be giving yourself more time for travel. When you’re always on time, the rare instances when you’re late will be more acceptable in the eyes of your boss.

Getting Lost in Your Work

In the last few years, the jump to hybrid and remote work has become more widespread. This can make it even easier to disappear into your work and become isolated from your coworkers. Even if you’re in the office this behavior can become a habit if you’re an introvert, and in certain cases being isolated at work can lead to anxiety and depression.

The best way to deal with this bad habit is to make yourself known once in a while. Even if you send a simple message saying “How’s your day?” once in a while it can go a long way. Along with this, never be afraid to share your ideas or ask any questions you might have. Always remember to keep the lines of communication open, and get into the habit of speaking to at least one person each day.

It’s important to periodically take inventory of our lives. What’s working well? What needs to be improved upon? By asking ourselves these questions, we can identify any bad habits that we might have slipped into, which is the first step towards correcting them. Getting into good habits will make work feel more fulfilling, and it could lead to great things such as getting a nice raise, or even a promotion.