How to break a bad work habit

Twenty Ten Talent - How to break a bad work habit

Were you late to work more than once this week? Is your to-do list too scary to look at for too long? Or maybe you have a deadline for a deliverable that you just can’t face?

Being on top of your game at work matters, so if you’ve developed a bad work habit don’t let things slide. Take action and make the decision to change your ways.

Late again…
The alarm clock goes off. You hit snooze. It goes off again. And again. Okay you’re up. But what on earth are you going to wear? And where is your favorite skirt? No time for breakfast, you’re officially running late. But where, oh where, are your keys? You’re finally out the door. But wait, what’s with all this traffic? Doesn’t the universe understand you have a meeting you CANNOT be late for?

If this sounds like your regular morning routine close your eyes and imagine the polar opposite. Envision starting the day feeling calm, collected and in control versus feeling stressed and rushed. Calculate how long you really need to get to work, versus how much time you think you need. Then add an extra 20 minutes just in case.

Opt to get ready the night before, choose what to wear, pack your bag, decide what you’ll need for breakfast, charge your phone. Take care of it all before you go to sleep. If you’re prone to hitting the snooze button over and over move your alarm clock out of physical reach. Actually getting out of bed is half the battle won. Then,  if you have everything laid out for you it’s a much nicer way to start the day.

If you feel like you’re suffering from burnout yet your workload feels insurmountable it’s super tough to know where to start, or what to do. The bottom line is this – if you don’t take steps to take care of your health and well-being, your ability to deliver great work will go totally out of the window.

If you’ve come home from work exhausted yet again after what feels like the longest day in history the first thing to do is switch off your smart phone. Try to avoid checking email 24/7 so you give yourself time to unwind when your work day is done.

Go to bed earlier the very next day and aim to get at least an extra hour of sleep until you start to feel a positive difference. If that’s not possible, make sure to catch up on all your missed sleep at the weekend. Schedule time for relaxing. Put it on the calendar if you need to. It could be as simple as listening to music, taking a bath or making time for an activity you enjoy. Do this on a regular basis.

Out of control to-do list
The first thing to remember if your to-do list has become a nightmare list is that to dos can go on for eternity if you let them. Look at the number of hours you work a day and remember it’s simply not possible to do 30 things in one afternoon.

Instead, carefully evaluate how critical each item on your to do list is. Is it a Must Do Right Now item, a Need To Do This Week or a Want To Do Soon? Figure it out and schedule the time to complete it based on the urgency. Keep your daily to-do list short and focused on the key tasks that really matter. And if you have trouble keeping pack of your to do list on paper remember there are lots of great online solutions you can use, I wrote about one example here.

At the end of each day remember to jot down what you accomplished. It’s so easy to forget that, but taking a moment to reflect on the important stuff you’ve done is and great way to motivate you to do more the next day.

Painful procrastination
If you find you have a task, or a bunch of tasks, that you just can’t face the chances are they won’t go away if you ignore them. Instead, bite the bullet and develop a new system that works for you to get things you really don’t enjoy out of the way fast.

“Do the worst first” – get the task you’ve been dreading the most out of the way at the start of the day. Set a time limit and stick to it. Working to beat the clock can be a great motivator to get a task done. Remove any distractions so you can focus on what you need to do and get it tackled faster. If it helps, create a personal incentive as a reward for finally getting the job done.

Post by Octavia Goredema 
Octavia Goredema is an award-winning career coach, writer and the founder of Twenty Ten Talent. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or over on Twitter.

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