Our performance as well as our ‘feel good factor’ are both undoubtedly and influenced by our work habits. Office woes and also to some extent, chaotic personal exigencies are also impacted by poor work habits. The ‘tyranny of the urgent’ and the failure to take a deliberate decision on the extent to which we should keep up with news, social networks, chats and messages is, more often than not, responsible for the chaos in our daily life. Everyone has only 24 hours a day – yet some manage to squeeze so much more out of it than others. Here are a few habits to break which can dramatically increase your productivity, efficiency and effectiveness on both the personal and professional front.
Break the 8 work habits that are arresting your progress.
The eight habits below are meant to be broken, not cultivated. Don’t attempt all of them together, work on them one at a time. Not all of them may apply to you and they are not necessarily in any particular order.
Break Work Habit # 1 : Tardiness
Some people are always in a rush, they are always late to work, late for an appointment, late for important meetings, etc. Either they are behind schedule since morning and are perpetually ‘catching up’ throughout the day or they like to do things only at the eleventh hour. If we are one of them, it is high time we realize the misery we have created for ourselves day after day. A simple solution would be to set our clocks back by about 10-15 minutes and then forget about it so that we are always slightly ahead of schedule.
Break Work Habit # 2 : Rigidity
Whereas each one of us prefers to be in the comfort zone and feel that our way is the right way or that what we have always done is the best way of doing things, reality is that there is always scope for improvement. Stubborn people set in their ways and rigid about their beliefs face more challenges in life than people who are flexible, who are open to new ideas, who try to be innovative, who are willing to learn from others and most importantly, do not repeat the mistakes that others make. Doing the same thing cannot give us different results. Try a new approach, test it for results and train yourself in the newly acquired habit which you will probably discard anyway.
Break Work Habit # 3 : Amalgamate
Work-life balance and work-life continuum are familiar words indeed. The balance between our work life and personal life does vary depending on the office environment and culture. Burning the midnight candle once too often is a recipe for disaster. So is spending working hours chatting with friends and family. Balance does not mean unity or amalgamation. We all have different roles to play in our individual lives and different hats that we wear throughout the day. What is often forgotten is that we need to compartmentalize our roles and not amalgamate them. It is entirely up to us to allocate a portion of our time for each of the roles that life has in store for us and having determined that, to make sure that we do justice to each role. Personal issues should not distract you at work and excessive workload or vexatious issues at work should not distract you at home.
Break Work Habit # 4 : Gossip and Politics
Whereas most consider this as inevitable given that we are ‘human’ beings, it may not necessarily be so as hundreds in the corporate workplace would vouch for. Having said that, if you do think it is a occupational hazard and you are likely to be left out at work and in society if you do not indulge, then the least you can do is determine the amount of time you wish to spend on this. Also spend some time thinking about reputations that you damage, including your own. Distractions create distances between deliberate actions and obviously have negative consequences.
Break Work Habit # 5 : Clutter
Clutter can mean a confused or disorderly state of mind or the physical environment. Too much to do, too much to think about, too much to resolve, too much to decide, too much around you, too much in front of you, too much coming in all the time, too difficult to find things and objects. Start de-cluttering now! Begin with a small shelf or your table top and keep progressing, one thing at a time. Dispose the unwanted. Reduce commitments and appointments, where feasible. Be pro-active and pre-alert others including family. Don’t spend an entire day cleaning and clearing - just focus on one area each day till you simplify your life for yourself.
Break Work Habit # 6 : Negative Attitude
It may feel wonderful (temporarily) to constantly crib about your job, boss, wife, clients, the world at large. But there are three things you ensure for yourselves by doing this – people eventually move away from you because they get sick and tired of listening to your complaints; you as a person become one with negativity and set yourself up for more of the same; and the spate of negative thoughts reduces the quality and quantity of your output, ideas and achievements. A gloomy face will only see gloom around. Anything bright they see, they will only see the gloomy side of it. If we cannot change what we don’t like, then we have to either accept it or like it. Focus on what you can improve and try to see everything, if not in a positive light, at least with a humorous vein. A grumbler can only attract other grumbles; instead lift yourself and others up.
Break Work Habit # 7 : Haste
Verbal and written communications in haste often cause anxiety and distress. They also have a tendency to increase the not-so-nice exchanges if the other party is also vexed, affronted or inconvenienced. Thus it affects not just the outcome of this particular event but also a major part of the day. Pause before you say anything. Take a deep breath before you expostulate in anger. Stop to think; don’t just react! Pause before you hit the send button. Make sure you mean every word you write or speak and make sure you actually meant to mean this. Keep Dr. Rock's rule in mind: "Anything that's likely to generate strong emotion should be a phone or face-to-face conversation."
Break Work Habit # 8 : Social networking
"Social interaction is addictive because it activates the rewards center of our brains," says Dr. David Rock, director of the Neuro-Leadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work. Peer pressure and the others around you make it seem as if it is a mandatory activity that you must do as much as possible. The more you do it – the more you want it. And you have to check your facebook updates, twitter feeds, your (multiple) personal email accounts, your official email account, linkedin, Google+ and more. You have to share photographs, comment on others’ uploads, circulate jokes and pictures, send useless forwards and expect responses to all of these as well. Just how much is enough? Do you really need to spend as much time as you are spending today on these activities? How are they helping you grow in your various life roles? One way to reduce these ‘online’ activities is to designate a particular time of the day or the maximum amount of time you will permit yourself for social networking.
Bonus habit to break : Stop watching TV! You will never miss anything that is important for you in this life, contrary to your belief. TV poisons your belief systems, often gives false information to market products, bombards your subconscious with unwanted images, programs you with negativity, exposes you to subliminal programming and advertising, degrades your discipline, takes time away from more productive work and personal interaction, distorts reality and creates a sedentary lifestyle. More often than not, it fails to relax you and may end up making the world look more miserable than it is.
Break Free! It is your hands – you have the power to do it!
The author, Rajesh Seshadri, is an internationally recognized Certified Leadership Coach, Certified Success Coach and Certified Life Coach. He is also a NLP Master Practitioner, facilitator and therapist. The basket of therapies is holistic and integrative adopting techniques from Psychotherapy, NLP, Silva, Gestalt, Hypnosis and Silva UltraMind. Additionally, he is a seasoned corporate professional who continues to serve as a whole-time Director and Board Member. You can contact him here.