7 Professional Habits That Are Hurting Your Career
Behind every story is an amazing tapestry of unique experiences that inspired a visionary to change the world. It’s no wonder that we look to successful entrepreneurs and innovators to learn professional habits that will focus our passion and create results. But are we curating habits and processes that are productive in the workplace? Here are seven professional habits that may be hurting your career.
Are you regularly skipping breakfast, working through lunch, and too tired to stay active outside of work? That might be hurting your career. Your mind needs calories just as much as your body, and pushing through lunch to “finish one more project” is a tempting way to reduce overall productivity for short-term gains. Taking a lunch break improves cognitive function and creativity, and gives you a chance to relax or form stronger relationships with your teammates.
Learning to say “no” is one of the most crucial skills of a productive leader, and it helps you accomplish your most important tasks. While work ethic and altruism are great traits, highly engaged employees can easily find themselves exhausted, overworked, and sacrificing quality of work and life. Best case scenario: we make it through another month with a few more gray hairs and a little less sleep. Worst case scenario: our work suffers, we aren’t able to honor our commitments, and we let others down.
In the professional world, vulnerability can seem like a sign of weakness in a competitive marketplace that demands a spotless reputation. But vulnerability shows others that you are transparent, humble, and accountable. For leaders, accountability and honest self-disclosure shows a willingness to calculate and manage emotional risk. And for entrepreneurs, risk management and courage are driving forces behind innovation.
In 2017, working professionals are busy. But are they effective? Just as Simon Sinek urges us to “Start With Why” when we’re communicating, each day, week, and month should be focused on the high-impact tasks that produce the majority of our results in the workplace. Use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize, schedule, delegate, and eliminate tasks with your “why” at heart.
On average, we spend over six hours each week on email, depleting our valuable mental willpower and creativity and leaving us tapped out for the important tasks. And because email is the main way that others attempt to rally your attention to their main priorities, your inbox can derail your plans and leave your projects on the sidelines. Even worse, a constant barrage of notifications tears your attention span and prevents the focused state of deep work that we need to tackle big projects. Carve out time to shut out distractions and accomplish your most important tasks without interruption.
Collaboration is crucial for success, but longitudinal surveys tracking organizational clutter has found that managers spend 15% of their time in meetings—a percentage that has been rising steadily since 2008. Meetings without clear end-times and key performance indicators can take a toll on productivity and morale, so make sure every meeting is scheduled with a specific purpose and clear goal to achieve, with only necessary decision makers required in attendance.
Every article about destructive habits has to mention procrastination, but maybe there’s a deeper reason behind why some tasks are interesting and others are painfully difficult to start. Our brains are constantly evaluating the intrinsic reward and value of our actions, and the emotional results are boredom, dread, and procrastination. Create a procrastination list of productive tasks to do when your willpower is drained, or fire up your prefrontal cortex to activate the part of the brain that is least likely to procrastinate.
More than mere distraction, mindlessness is a lack of focus on present reality. And because memories start with the perception of stimuli, living your life on autopilot can lead to a shortened perception of time, missed meetings or deadlines, and even unsafe working conditions. Think about the types of things you’re likely to forget: Did you lock the door? Did you turn off the lights? Did you remember to turn up the air conditioning? Good habits are crucial for eliminating the willpower cost of many repetitive actions, but mindlessly performing actions is detrimental for personal and professional awareness.
If you found that some of the above habits perfectly described your life, you’re not alone. Creating positive, professional habits are crucial for you as an individual and important to cultivate if you lead employees. Choose one of the above habits to eliminate, and consider replacing it with one of these eighteen habits for operational excellence.
Kevin Bugielski is the Marketing Manager for Victory Lap, a purpose-driven startup changing the sales game. Avid Snapchatter, SoulCycle lover, newfound runner, but ultimately, a foodie.