Money & Career

Seven bad work habits to quit right now

Stuck in a work rut? You could be committing these career-crushing sins that's holding you back from your true potential.

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Masterfile

I once worked with a guy who used to whistle while he worked. And while it may have been a great motivator for him, it was like nails on a chalkboard in an editorial environment where you’re trying to focus on details like writing and editing. Seriously — it drove me crazy!

There are a host of other habits that happen in the workplace — not all designed to annoy the person in the next cubicle — that might be holding you back from reaching your full potential. Here’s how quitting some of those bad habits might change your work life for the better.

1. Using jargon
From “out of the box” to “blue sky,” office jargon can be a lazy excuse for clear communication and good thinking. Plus, they tend to drive your co-workers nuts. Break the jargon habit by thinking through what you want to say and building a better lexicon for describing your ideas.

2. Relying on memory
You’re sitting in a meeting getting the lowdown on a new project, hoping you remember everything the client wants. The only thing is, you’re not really taking good notes. Without them, you’re bound to miss important details. Learning how to take good notes gives you a better chance to doing the job right (and making your client or boss happy).

3. Starting without a plan
Jumping in to your day without a plan of attack is a recipe for wasted time and missed deadlines. Make a list every morning (or the night before) that details what you need to accomplish and how much time you think each task will take.

4. Checking your smart phone 100 times a day
You’re obsessively checking your phone for emails and texts, day in and day out — even during conversations with others and during meetings. Not only does it waste your time and distract you from immediate business, it’s kind of rude. Turn your email off and only check it at set times. You’ll find you have more time to focus on the task at hand and will become more productive.

5. Assuming everyone knows what you want
You work harder than anyone else, so your boss must know you want a promotion, right? Not necessarily. Whether it’s a raise or a new position, you need to be clear with your boss and simply ask for what you want. You’ll need to make your case and, of course, he or she might say no, but at least they’ll know where you stand.

6. Saying tomorrow
Whether it’s a phone call or finishing a course, there are some things in life that we relentlessly procrastinate. After awhile, doing them seems next to impossible. Make a list of things you procrastinate and put at least one on your to-do list every day. Make it the first thing you do in the morning and by the end of the week, you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

7. Playing the victim game
Do you catch yourself saying, “I can’t” and “But I have no choice.” Statements like these are negative and keep people stuck in a rut. If you’re faced with a problem, remember there’s always a solution — but this kind of negative approach won’t help you find it. Stop putting yourself in a victim role at work and, instead, think about how you can positively change your situation. Whether it’s looking for a new job, redefining the position you have, or seeking help from someone else, the choice is yours.

Follow personal finance expert Caroline Cakebread at Twitter.com/ccakebread.

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