It’s 23:52. You have precisely 8 minutes left to finish your work because your deadline is COB – which means ‘end of the day’, which means 00:00. Right? You’re manically drilling away at the keyboard, trying to finish. Who cares about spelling and thinking things through. This work needs to be done ASAP! Then you submit it, out of breath and out of ideas, and possibly even, out of your mind.
And then? You promise yourself that the next deadline will be different. Until it’s not. And so, the habitual spiral of last minute.com continues.
For most of us, our bad habits at work have become part of our everyday process. They’re the sticky bits that keep our routines together, the adrenaline that keeps us driving our desks for hours, the panic that holds us accountable against all odds. And with Covid changing the working landscape, habits seem to have mutated into entirely new variants – ones that now plague the office at home.
Luckily, 2022 is just around the corner, and a new year brings the opportunity for you to grab your bad habits, give them a shake and dust them off, and turn them into something shiny!
Here’s a handful of employee bad habits that could do with a good shake:
- Dressing rumpled and crinkled
It’s no secret that most of us wore the same pair of tracksuit pants throughout lockdown. Makeup and hair? Don’t care! Those were abandoned pretty quickly! But now it’s back to the office, and looking tidy and professional is paramount. This is not just for your clients – who will certainly respect your crisp, clean clothes and neatly slicked hair. Looking good is for yourself too! When you look good, you feel good, and everybody wins.
- Never leaving your desk
We’ve fooled ourselves into believing that if we sit at our desks the entire day, we’ll get all the work done. However, not only is sitting all day incredibly bad for your health, but it also stunts your creativity and productivity. You need to get out, get moving, and let the flow of blood stimulate your brain. Research tells us that taking a walk helps us solve problems. According to prominent thought leader and strategist Nilofer Merchant, “Getting out of the box leads to out of the box thinking… Whether it’s nature or the exercise itself, it certainly works.” Get into a healthy habit of taking a walk midflow, or getting up to fetch a snack. Move away from the stuckness; you’re not a tree.
- Leaving projects until the deadline
Leaving your tasks till the last minute means letting them pile up, rushing through them with little thought, having some slip through your fingers, and lots of panic and stress. Why not kick the stress, make sure that your work is your best, deliver all your work on time, and still be able to take a break when you need it? The dream, yes? Achievable – absolutely. Get into a disciplined habit of planning ahead and creating a daily task list that helps you focus, reach your daily goal and tick off as you go along.
- Being a ‘No’ person
COVID-19 has certainly instilled a new sense of ‘boundary-setting’ in our lives – for most of us anyway. ‘No’ to social arrangements, ‘no’ to extra struggles, ‘no’ to spending more money, no no no! But, when it comes to the workplace, ‘no’ doesn’t always fly. There’s nothing worse than hearing ‘no’ all the time from an employee, a leader, a colleague. Push-back is testy, and not appealing to most. Toddlers are master ‘no’ people, and some employees are master toddlers. Don’t be a master toddler – open yourself up again to opportunity, possibility and joy. Listen to your colleagues, embrace new challenges and projects, hear your boss out and ask questions about their plans and then practise saying that beautifully inclusive word ‘Yes!’. A game-changer, we promise!
Let’s press re-set
Instead of obsessing about tossing a bad habit, rather focus all your energy on building a new one – it’s much simpler to replace your bad habit with a better one that replicates the same reward! Get to know your triggers – what makes you put your work off till number 99? Why don’t you like to break away from your work? Why do you need to start every sentence with ‘No’?. If you truly want to end those pesky bad habits, you have to understand them and where they come from.
Getting back to the office in our ‘New Normal’ can be a scary thing. It’s worth some reflection. Become aware of the bad habits you’ve picked up and decide how best to improve them. When it comes to resolving all that is ‘wrong for you’, start with one habit at a time. Change can be scary, and sometimes, overwhelming. Make small changes at a time –and your good habits will add up faster than you think.
Here’s to ‘Back to Work’ in 2022. Cheers!