We all harbor a couple of pesky habits we carefully pack, carry, and take to work with us every day. Some sprouted at home from years of cultivation and others received the organic, sustainable nourishment required to live and grow at work. Regardless of where they originated, one thing’s for sure: we’re better off shaking them loose. In fact, our days would run a lot smoother if we could break them and increase productivity—but you already know that.

We’ve put together a list of some of the worst work habits that can put a serious dent in your productivity and how to turn them around to increase productivity.

1. Running late for meetings

Everyone hopes meetings will start on time and end early, so we can get on with our ever-evolving to-do list. But when one person shows up late—even 5 or 10 minutes—it eats into everyone’s workday. Worse yet, it means the meeting will now go longer. And if anyone in the room has a back-to-back meeting, they will likely either miss a bit of important information in this meeting or be the one to hold up the next one. And so the dominos falls.

How to break it: Plan to arrive early. Remember, everything takes longer than you think. So marking meeting start times on your calendar as 15 minutes earlier may land you there right on time. Also set up reminders in your calendar to give you anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes notice before a meeting starts—don’t be shy to give yourself an hour’s worth of notice if need be.

2. Forgetting to hydrate

Coffee alone won’t cut it for water intake. And it can actually start to deplete your energy level, if you don’t counter balance it with water. Just think about those times when you caught yourself yawning in the middle of a cup. And forget soda altogether—it doesn’t count towards your daily hydration either.

How to break it: Water can actually lift your energy level and increase productivity all on its own, when you’re dehydrated. Try filling up a large 12-16 oz. container and keeping it at your desk. It also serves as a good reminder to drink.

How much H2O do you actually need in a day? It varies from person to person. But a good way to estimate what you need is to divide your body weight in half. That will give you the number of oz. you want to shoot for in a day. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs., you’re looking at 90 oz., which is 5.6 (16 oz.) containers.

3. Dodging after-work socials

We all get busy with our own social calendar in our off hours—going for a run, meeting friends for food and drinks, spending time with your family, etc. But it’s important to put aside some time to get to know the people you spend a good amount of your day (and life) with. Isolating yourself can make working together mirror how it is to meet someone for the first time every day—slow to find your common ground with minimal information exchanged. And that’s bad news for collaborating on projects and building trust.

How to break it: You don’t have to go to every company social, but making an effort to show when you can, goes a long way. Plan it like you would any other part of your life, because it’s as important. You’ll get a chance to understand where your coworkers are coming from and what they really care about. It’s also a great opportunity to gather valuable insight and exchange ideas on projects with those inside or outside of your department. Maybe even show off those fair-to-average bowling skills.

4. Careless emails

You’re in a hurry. You try to send the least amount of words to get your point across, along with instructions and updates. But because you’re trying to move quickly, you forget a few key details, you misspell a few words, your grammar gets twisted, and the person reading it has no idea what you’re talking about. Now they need to ask you to clarify, and then you have to send another email back to them, and so on. Or maybe you hit the “caps lock” button while you were typing away, hit send, and now the other person thinks you’re yelling at them. Or perhaps you hit “reply all” on an email that was only intended for one pair of eyeballs. It happens.

How to break it: Slow it down: spellcheck and revise. You’ll be glad you did. Give your emails a once over and give it a rewrite if you think there’s a chance it may not make perfect sense. We all want whoever’s reading our messages to get our meaning right the first time, don’t we? If you rush, you may end up having to go back and explain, which can eat up more of your day in the long run. And take 5 seconds to double-check who’s on the send or reply list. It just might save you from a few red-faced moments.

5. Getting too comfy with your skills

The only thing that’s constant is change. Changes in the way we dress. Changes in the way we eat. Changes in the way we communicate. So why should work be the exception? The reality is “best practices” and the mechanics of what works in your industry is always evolving. And so should your skills. If you’re stuck in your ways, your coworkers and your industry may pass you by. And none of us want that.

How to break it: Stay up-to-date with all of the latest and greatest. Read publications and watch videos relevant to your industry. Always be on the lookout for innovation and new ideas. Share what you find with your coworkers and they’re likely to float some great stuff back your way. Look for ways to incorporate better ways of working into your daily practice. Pick a few skills you’d like to improve, like project management, video editing, or public speaking, and take training courses. You’ll add value to your company and career.

Did we miss one? Drop us a comment below. We’ll include it in our next article. Now go increase productivity!

Nick Gamino

Senior Content Writer

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