A habit is a task that you do so often it becomes automatic, like checking your phone every few minutes for updates, that midmorning coffee break and brushing your teeth.
When it comes to work habits, these are the routines and actions that you perform consistently day in and day out at your job. But are these habits helping or hurting your productivity?
A quick online search will pull up dozens of articles on the habits of billionaires and other successful people. While those articles offer great advice, they aren’t always the most relatable. For those of us with ever-increasing workloads, we really need some quick tips on developing good work habits.
The good news is that whether you work in an office, are fully remote or have adopted a hybrid approach, developing good work habits can help find more success at your job.
Habits: The good and the bad
It’s generally easier to list out the things we’re bad at, rather than our attributes. So let’s start there. Listing out your bad habits will help you to home in on which ones you want to break or redirect into healthier habits. Some common ones include:
- Too many or not enough breaks
- Lack of a plan or goal for the week
- Being disorganized and easily distracted
- Poor communication
What are good work habits?
The things that make you more efficient, organized and dependable are your good work habits. When you show up on time, make your deadlines and present solutions rather than problems, you start getting noticed.
Being a team player is more than just following the rules. It’s also about setting a good example, compromising when you need to and considering your teammates.
The importance of making room for improvement
Do you find yourself so busy that you can’t come up for air? Are there so many things on your plate that you don’t know where to start? Always putting out one fire after another and not accomplishing anything on your to-do list?
These are all really common feelings. And they are why it’s important to learn how to improve work habits. Can you imagine how it would feel if you started your day knowing exactly which tasks you were going to accomplish? Knowing how to manage the countless distractions that come up?
No matter if you’re in the office or working from your kitchen, you can get things under control and get more done with just a few habit adjustments. Some you can set your mind to, and others you can tackle by taking advantage of the available technology.
Three tips to improve work habits
1. Update your daily routine
Starting your day with some exercise will help you to be more focused throughout the day. Instead of being overwhelmed by the thought of having to wake up early and get in 30 minutes of cardio, try breaking it down into smaller bits. Just focus on getting your running shoes on. Once they’re on, it is easy to take the next step.
Use reminders and visual cues to help strengthen the habits you’re developing. Put your running shoes right by your nightstand so you see them when you get into bed at night.
Use an app for Slack, like Pushupbot, to remind you to drink water and stretch throughout the day. Or set up reminders to get pinged when it’s time to take a break, join a meeting or submit your report.
2. Improve focus and limit distractions
Most people know that having a clean and organized desk limits your distractions. But it makes just as much sense to have a tidy screen too. Minimize distractions by fully expanding the window you are working in to cover up the others.
Notifications can be a focus killer too. Turn off mobile notifications, update your “mark as read” settings to avoid channel FOMO and limit desktop notifications to just mentions and direct messages.
You can easily set a notification schedule to turn off sounds and pause notifications during set times.
Another great tip is to create a to-do list at the end of the day. That way when you start work the next morning, you can jump right in.
3. Manage stress and be flexible
If something feels like a chore, you won’t want to do it and tend to procrastinate. Try to reshape your thinking to focus on the goals of the task. Or break the task down into bite-size chunks toward your overall goal. Focusing on the little things makes it easier to succeed.
Recognize that everyone has their own best times to focus. Some people are early risers and get a ton done before 8 a.m., while others don’t get going until the caffeine kicks in midmorning.
So have flexibility in how you work. Maybe use asynchronous video for daily check-ins so each team member can do it when it best works for them.
Or use an app like Range that prompts you to check in as soon as you log in. After you and your teammates fill in the fields with your daily plans, everyone will know exactly what’s going on without having to disrupt work for a standup meeting.
Hack your way to better work habits
Everyone thinks change is hard. But making small tweaks can improve your work habits in no time. Set reminders. Use visual cues. Adjust your notifications and take full advantage of the technology at your fingertips.