Break those Bad Office Habits


Bad habits at the office can have an adverse influence on one’s career. When these begin to affect quality of work, the repercussions are serious. Once a poor reputation is established for a person among bosses, the problem can stop a potentially blooming career in the tracks, or worse, reverse the climb up the ladder. If certain bad practices have become part of your work life, you are probably aware of their destructive effects on your career. But as with most people you probably just can’t get out of the rut.

Before looking at any technique for breaking bad work habits, it may be appropriate to have a look at some common problems that one finds at the workplace. Realization of the problem is the first step towards a resolution.

Being Late to Office

Being infrequently late to the office may be overlooked particularly if you had been working till late hours the previous day. But if you are a regular late-comer, be assured people who matter will notice. The impression made is that of a person who does not give much importance to his work. Since a lot of jobs involve team work, not being available when needed will make many of your colleagues frustrated with you. That frustration is bound to show up in the form of conflicts. What’s worse, if the practice continues despite counseling from the boss, it displays a couldn’t-care-less attitude of the boss’s opinion which will certainly land you in trouble.


Procrastination is a common behavior that afflicts many people at the office. If something can be done today, it will be done tomorrow. People may habitually procrastinate because they dread having to face a problem or a difficult person. On the other hand, they may just not be motivated. The more regularly this behavior is indulged in the more stressful life at the office becomes. Work is submitted late which obviously does not make the boss happy. But that’s not all; procrastination can have long reaching effects on a person’s psychology. Every time a person delays a task because they want to feel free of the stress, the opposite happens. After some time, thoughts of the pending job surface to the mind repeatedly, bringing up waves of guilt and worry.


Probably the most difficult test and a definite measure of good character is the ability to avoid bad mouthing someone behind their back. Your integrity at the workplace is the most important asset that you have which gives you the respect of your colleagues, subordinates and boss. You will find that when you have to persuade somebody on a particular argument, your reputation for integrity will take you a long way in successfully convincing them of any case you want to make. However, if you are known to be a gossip, rest assured, you will be considered highly unreliable. Your habit of frequently knocking off people with your words will make you a person who will not be held close by people who matter in the workplace.

Make Mental Resolutions

For the elimination of any bad habit, think about what drives you to perform the undesired actions. Every time your inner voice invites you to procrastinate or gossip, recognize what this inner voice is saying. You will need conscientious effort to understand its message and you will find that it is repeating the same “scripts” over and over again to seduce you into an emotion that elicits the problem behavior.

Once the bad scripts are recognized, you have to remind yourself that these are fallacies that will eventually hurt your career. You have to tell yourself that you have control over whether you are going to follow the voice. Next to every “script” from the inner voice that you recognize,prepare an alternative script that is a “mature response” that you should maintain. For example, your response to desire to procrastinate could be, “Start some of the work right now, plan it and avoid the stress that you may have to face closer to the deadline. Enjoy the satisfaction of submitting your work to the boss in time”. Late-comers may respond with – “Being on time creates a good image and a good reputation while tardiness is noticed immediately and considered a sign of sloppiness”.

Next time you hear the bad “script”, recognize it and use the “mature response” to deal with the urge. Initially you will miss out on this several times. But if you keep at it, you will find that you are able to recognize the scripts more often and, as time passes, you will be able to elicit the mature responses regularly. Promise yourself that you will do things differently – then do things differently!

Create Obstacles

One way of discouraging bad habits is to create obstacles in the way of unwanted behavior. In order to avoid getting up late for office, place your alarm clock at a distance from the bed. If you have to get out of bed to shut the alarm, you’ll find it easier staying awake rather than hitting the snooze and turning over for “just another 10 minutes in bed” that actually lasts half an hour. Other tactics can include avoiding the places where you tend to start a gossip session.

Be Nice to Yourself

Reward yourself periodically for your perseverance when you find some improvements in your behavior. Also, don’t blame yourself if there are some lapses. Remind yourself that the slower and easier you take it, the more likely it will be for the effects to be long term. Put in a conscientious effort to overcome your bad habits at the workplace. Be patient because your rewards will be numerous – better peace of mind, better productivity, better reputation in the office and better chances of moving up the ladder.

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