You’ve busted your butt to become an amazing employee, from pouring over productivity tips in your free time to figuring out how to communicate like an adult at work so that you project athlete-level confidence on the job. Yas, girl! But a few seemingly innocent behaviors can shape what your coworkers and managers think about you… for the worse. To get a rundown of the bad habits that’ll ruin your reputation and perceived value, we talked to Dana Leavy-Detrick, a career consultant and owner of Brooklyn Resume Studio. Read on to find out which eight risky work behaviors you’re guilty of, and set out to break your bad habits ASAP. Your career could depend on it.
1. Failing to proofread: Spelling and grammar mistakes have a funny way of making even the smartest person sound less intelligent. The good news? This is a bad habit you can break pretty easily. Train yourself to use spell check, even if you need to stick a Post-it on your monitor to remind you. If you tend to miss grammar mistakes, try Grammarly, a life-changing Chrome extension with a free version that’ll catch glaring errors before you press send.
2. Eating at your desk: Stepping away from your desk doesn’t just feel nice, it’s actually important for your mental and physical health. Research shows that splitting up critical tasks into blocks of no more than an hour or two (then taking a quick break) actually boosts productivity. Dana says, “Go out, take a walk, grab a coffee. You’ll be more productive and engaged in your work when you come back.” Yep, we agree.
3. Not taking vacation (seriously): Dana tells us, “For many companies, vacation time, paid time off (PTO) and other similar benefits are already factored into an employee’s compensation package. So not only does powering through without ever taking a day off affect your well being, health and productivity, but it also leaves cash you’re earning on the table.”
If you work for a company that frowns against taking time off, start searching for a new gig ASAP. The best places to work value your well-being, with some of the most cutting-edge companies requiring minimum days away from work or even PAYING you to take them.
4. Wasting time on social media: Nowadays, social media is an actual addiction that can be a total time suck. Whether you’re looking for a distraction, feel the need to get a pulse on what friends are doing or need some eye candy on Snapchat or Instagram, the few minutes you spend surfing around multiple times a day add up, and can keep you at the office longer or prevent you from checking important to-do’s off of your list. Save your fave social sites for breaks, your lunch hour or commute home.
5. Letting perfectionism get in the way of good work: We once heard that “perfection is the enemy of the good,” and wow, is it true. Failing to complete a project or get up to present an idea to your team because things aren’t 100 percent perfect will take away from doing work that’s simply GREAT. While you should always strive to do your best, be sure that you’re still able to deliver work that meets your goals and will get you valuable feedback, even if it’s not absolutely perfect in your eyes.
6. Going to meetings when you don’t need to: A valuable employee and teammate is someone who knows how to prioritize and be their most productive — on their own terms. Dana says, “You don’t need to go to every meeting you’re invited to. Ask yourself: Is it really critical that I put off other tasks to take part in it, or can I spend five minutes later catching up on the key points?” Hold your own and make decisions that help you knock out your best work, for the benefit of everyone.
7. Failing with face time: This can take shape in the form of a couple of horrible habits, which include putting in face time without being present or productive, as well as failing to put in enough face time. While the first requires a bit more focus and might be less noticeable to your coworkers or manager for a while, the second can seriously affect your reputation, especially if you work with super dedicated people who seriously value in-person work and collaboration. Strike the right balance for you, your role and your team and work hard to keep it up. Relationships are often nearly as important as your output.
8. Letting your resume get stale: Dana says it doesn’t matter if you’re actively looking for a new job or not — letting your resume or LinkedIn profile become completely stale is a bad habit you need to break. Be prepared by showcasing updated titles and credentials, as well as relevant work samples and completed projects that you’re proud of. She smartly shares, “You just never know when the perfect internal position could open up, you’ll be approached about a totally random but amazing external opportunity or even encounter surprise circumstances, like a layoff.”
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