Toxic Work Habits: Get rid of them NOW!

Our good habits better outweigh our bad ones by far if we ever want to succeed in life. It sounds obvious, but the fact of the matter is that most of us aren’t even aware of our bad habits. If we’re, we don’t realise that we have any and we simply ignore them. Our habits are automatic, we don’t think before we act.

Studies show that about 40% of people’s daily activities are performed each day in almost the same situations. This serves us in many ways; imagine having to remind ourselves to breath, or re-learning how to drive a car every day? Other habits seem to cause chaos in our lives though, but that can definitely be turned around because habits are so ingrained into our daily routines, it’s very likely that harmful ones are sneaking in and detracting from our success. That’s why the exceptionally successful know that what you don’t do is just as important as your actions. As Benjamin Franklin put it: “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.

Without further ado, try banishing the following habits, and see how your success in business and in life improve:

1. Stop Peeking in

Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. If you are in the habit of comparing yourself to others, and a big majority of us are, it’s time to stop. There will always be someone ahead of you, but the game of life is a marathon, not a sprint. Whether you are feeling bad because you think your peers are doing better than you, or you are building yourself up based on their failures, both are unproductive and have the potential to be self-destructive. If you feel good about something you’ve done, enjoy it — you don’t need the recognition from others to affirm your accomplishments.

Also keep in mind that your perception of others is likely inaccurate, and the grass is actually sometimes not as green in the neighbour’s field as it appears to be. A study done by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shows that people are much more likely to display positive emotions than negative. So, the next time you think the guy from marketing “has it all,” you may want to consider what he is not showing underneath it all.

2. Stop Talking, Listen

With so many things going around, it’s easy to get distracted when listening to others (especially if it’s a boring topic). However, as uninteresting as the conversation might be, you should know that listening has been called one of the make-or-break factors for successful leadership.

So, if you want to up your success, replace this common habit with active listening. Instead of nodding off, consider both showing the speaker that you’re interested (nodding, agreeing, etc.) and actually making an effort to understand (by asking questions and contributing). Even if you aren’t actually interested, you’ll absorb the information and look highly professional.

3. Stop always saying ‘YES’

Warren Buffett said: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” We’re all told that being agreeable and saying ‘yes’ is polite and desirable. While that might be true during a dinner party, in the business world, it can have drastic consequences. We’re only human and with limited resources, we’ll eventually end up making a false promise by taking on everything. Plus, you’re an amazing individual, and you need to put yourself first.

Instead of saying ‘YES’ to everything, learn to turn up your turn down skills. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask a boss what should be prioritized, or to put yourself first over an acquaintance’s needs.

4. Stop Gossiping

Especially in the office, not only should you try to avoid it, but when you hear it, you should shut it down. Keep in mind that the ears of others are always listening — and when someone hears you gossiping, you will lose their trust. A loss of trust is the #1 reason teams deteriorate and fail.

If your team feels they can’t trust you with confidential information, they will not have your back or the team’s best interest in mind because they feel their own protection needs to come first. Keep the positive vibes going, there are so many other things we could be worrying about than the relationship that might be happening in your neighbouring department.

5. Stop roaming the internet

Be intentional about your internet surfing; decide what you are going to focus on and don’t move to the next tab until you’ve finished. A study out of the University of California, Berkeley, found that on average, office workers go only 11 minutes between interruptions, while it can take up to 25 minutes to get into a state of productivity called flow.

Research shows that while working in your flow state, you are working at a level that is five times more productive. So, every time you click on a social media site to do a quick scroll, you are really putting a longer pause on your work than you think.

Last Word

Don’t keep giving advice to people unless you take yourself first, and don’t tell others how to live. Don’t tell other people to be healthier and stop eating if you keep munching the whole day. What works for you might not necessarily work for others. We have probably all been a hypocrite in one way or the other, I’m sure those around you would agree. But you have a choice now. We all have habits that we wish we didn’t have, that we don’t like and many of those we don’t even know we have as well.

Take a few minutes to be honest with yourself about the toxic habits that you might have and put a plan together to change them. We certainly develop habits we are not aware of, but once we are, it is up to us to change them or ignore them. You can’t change who you are, but you can change who you are being. Each and every one of us has that option.

Learn how sometimes smaller things in our lives make huge impact and you can take some learnings on a personal and professional level by following me on LinkedIn and on our official website. Also follow us on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter, Instagramand YouTube.

Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan. At Evolve HR, him and his team thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.




C-Level HR, Transformation Leader, Board Advisor, Writer, Business Coach & Organisational Consultant

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Muhammad Sajwani

Muhammad Sajwani

C-Level HR, Transformation Leader, Board Advisor, Writer, Business Coach & Organisational Consultant

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