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3 Steps to Change Bad Work Habits


We all have habits that we’d like to change, and some of those habits decrease our work productivity. Procrastination and messiness are big problems for some professionals, but there are also seemingly small habits such as nail-biting or hair twirling that, believe it or not, can have negative repercussions at work. They look unprofessional and color how bosses, co-workers, and clients perceive you. The following three basic approaches to changing bad work habits may be applied to any and all behaviors you’d like to change.

(Photo Credit: Victor1558/Flickr)

1. Remember That You Are a Work in Progress

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Changing our habitual behaviors is difficult, and recognizing and accepting this fact will help you be more patient with yourself. At the core level, you must believe that you are able to change.

For example, let’s say you have a bad habit of fidgeting when nervous. This is creating a problem for you because you often give presentations and it looks unprofessional to be playing with a pencil while talking. It is distracting for your audience, and when you look insecure, those listening will not have confidence that you know what you are talking about. On the other hand, if you learn to stand still, your audience will have more respect for you, even if you feel insecure or nervous on the inside.

2. Take Small Steps

You have probably heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither were you, and you won’t change a bad habit in one day. Take small steps.

Next time you have to give a presentation, spend some time thinking specifically about how you fidget. For example, maybe you shake your foot. Tell yourself that during this presentation, you are going to keep your foot still.

Practice in front of a mirror. When you make mistakes or slip up, remember that you are a work in progress. Try again.

This deceptively simple way of approaching the task of changing bad habits works well over time. Being patient and not giving up contribute to eventual success.

3. Remember Rewards

Small achievements deserve a reward. Rewards are a form of positive reinforcement and giving yourself small rewards will increase your ability to overcome whatever bad habit is troubling you. For example, maybe treat yourself by going out for lunch after giving a successful presentation.

If it is too difficult to keep your foot still during an entire presentation, reward yourself for whatever level of success you did achieve, then try again. Little rewards keep you going until you achieve the goal of changing the bad habit.

Tell Us What You Think

What bad work habit do you want to change? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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