Change your bad habits at work for good

PRODUCTIVITY: One way to save time at work is to schedule specific times to check your e-mail, especially if you find yourself constantly responding to every one as they pop up.


    Dec 29, 2015

    Change your bad habits at work for good

    AFTER some time on the job, people tend to become lax in work disciplines and develop bad habits.

    Such negative routines could be the result of workplace culture.

    For instance, people tend to put off decision-making till the eleventh hour.

    Whichever the case, take a look at your workday to identify any poor disciplines. The only way to break these negative habits is to replace them with better ones.

    Which of these common bad habits are you guilty of?


    No one is on top of his day, every day. However, if you find that you do not complete all your important tasks on most days and it's not because you overscheduled, it's time to take a close look at how you are spending your day.

    If you find that you spend a lot of time chatting at the water cooler, schedule lunch with your co-workers so that you are still on top of what's going on in the organisation.

    But do not fritter away office time. If you find that you are constantly checking your e-mail and responding to every one of them as they pop up, schedule specific times to check them. Some e-mail messages are only for information, so do not waste time responding to them.

    And do you find yourself taking time just to figure out which tasks to do next? This is a result of poor planning.

    To get rid of these bad habits that lead to unproductive days, plan your workday the night before or first thing in the morning and schedule the activities in your calendar so a timeline is attached.


    Many people believe that if they show up five to 10 minutes after the meeting is supposed to start, they are not really late. If this is something that you are guilty of, think about the time you waste because someone has to recap just so that you understand what's going on.

    The meeting runs longer, which messes up other people's day.

    People often do not really take the time to think about how their actions impact others.

    Set a reminder in your online calendar so you can wrap up what you are working on.

    If you finish a task and have 10 minutes to spare before your meeting, instead of starting another task that will take 20 minutes to complete, use the time to prepare for the meeting or to centre yourself so you can fully participate in the meeting.


    Every now and again, it will be necessary to take an extended lunch break but this behaviour should not be the norm. Two hours for lunch should be considered a longer-than-necessary break.

    Schedule all activities, including your breaks, into your calendar. Stick to your schedule as much as possible.


    Everyone has emergencies and there is no way to avoid scheduling a personal appointment during work hours. This, however, should be an exception and not the norm.

    Take a personal day for your personal appointments because during work hours, the only thing you should be doing is working.


    E-mail is great and can save time but it is not a substitute for meeting face-to-face with your colleagues. Many of us rely on e-mail so heavily that we forget that a simple face-to-face interaction can easily prevent miscommunication.

    Besides, face-to-face interactions also build relationships. From time to time, walk down the hall to speak to a colleague instead of sending an e-mail.

    And if the face-to-face method is not possible, pick up the phone and call instead.

    The trick to breaking these common negative routines is to spend a couple of days paying attention to how you spend your time at work and how you approach your work.

    By doing this, you will identify your bad work habits and to break them simply by replacing them with better ones.

    This article was contributed by career consultancy Right Management and recruitment company ManpowerGroup Singapore.