Your job is stressing you out – it’s ok! It happens to the best of us. But instead of feeling overworked all of the time, take a step back and see what toxic career habits you need to break. Eliminating these negative habits will help you feel rejuvenated, so you can focus on your job with the passion you used to feel.

1. Not taking your lunch break.

It’s easy to work through your lunch break, I know! It really seems like the best solution when you weigh it against staying late. When you do this every day, however, you’re wearing yourself out unnecessarily. Take thirty minutes to enjoy your lunch. How refreshed you feel after will make you feel so much better that you’ll get more done than if you had worked through that entire time. If it doesn’t take you that long to eat, don’t sacrifice the rest of your break! Run an errand or go visit with some coworkers. It’s necessary to take short breaks from work to stay focused in the long run.

2. Not using your paid time off.

Deadline after deadline after deadline means you never get a chance to take your dream vacation! Well, make time! Your boss might not like being without you, but you’ve earned that vacation time, and you deserve to take it. Time off will make you feel refreshed, and by the time you have to get back to work, you’ll feel ready to handle any task that comes your way. If you really can’t take a week vacation to Hawaii, then take a few days here and there to give yourself some long weekends, and treat those as mini-vacations!

3. Over-explaining yourself.

If you came up with a good idea for a project, let the idea stand on its own. Your boss doesn’t need to know exactly what you were doing when you came up with it, or who inspired you. If you took a personal day, it was because you needed it – you don’t need to share all the drama that surrounded that day. Same with sick days or doctor’s appointments: just say what you need to say and let it stand. If necessary, bring a doctor’s note – that will be story enough for your boss.

4. Not speaking up in meetings.

If something’s on your mind, speak up! If you have a good idea, throw it out there! If you take too long to think it through, you’ll find that someone else will speak up before you, possibly sharing a similar idea. Don’t say every thing that crosses your mind, but also don’t censor yourself prematurely. Sometimes it’s important to put something, anything, out there quickly to show you’re thinking, rather than to stay quiet and overthink an idea that might never be heard.

5. Taking on more than you can handle.

Don’t be afraid to say no to certain job duties. You can only do as much as you can do — if you’re already overworked, nothing will be helped by taking on another project. Turn it down graciously and say you need to fully focus on what’s on your plate now, but would love to work on such projects in the future. Make sure you know your limit so you’re not taking on too much before you can even say no to more.

6. Repeatedly checking your email.

What a time-waster! We all do it – it takes just one second to see if anything new has popped up in your inbox, but the distraction subtracts minutes from your workday, each time you do it. Set specific times to check your email: when you first get in each morning, after your lunch break and an hour or two before quitting time. You might need to check it more if you’re waiting to hear from someone or are on a deadline, but don’t let yourself check it every five minutes. Stay focused on your task at hand.

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7. Responding slowly.

Don’t be that person who checks their email and then lets it sit there! Even if the person hasn’t added a read receipt, over time they’ll know you saw their message and haven’t responded, or they might think you ignored it completely. When you read each email, try to address it right then. Complete the task the email asks, give the information the person needs, or even just fire off a message letting them know you’re on the task. If you don’t reply right away, you’re more than likely going to forget about the email and therefore look like a slacker, or even worse, it’ll weigh heavily on your mind until you can’t think about anything else. Don’t add unnecessary things to your To Do list — take care of these emails as they come along.

8. Procrastinating.

Procrastinating doesn’t just have to be about email! You can put off anything from a major project to a small task that would take no time at all to do. Sometimes it’s just too hard to make yourself do something when it needs to be done. But the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to do it. Just suck it up and do the task when it’s fresh on your mind, and you won’t have it weighing you down in the long run.

9. Being unprepared.

Sometimes you forget your lunch or leave your phone at home. Everyone has been unprepared for something, but try not to let it happen at work. Forgetting something every once in a while s understandable, but if it happens too much, it will affect your job. Being unprepared for your work day will throw you off your game, and it’ll be harder for you to accomplish what needs to be done. Being unprepared for a meeting or presentation will make your bosses and coworkers think you’re not together enough to handle the job, or you just don’t care enough to put forth the effort.

10. Complaining.

You’re at work – be professional! Yes, it sucks that your boss moved the deadline up by a week, but does complaining help? It just makes you look immature and unprofessional. Even complaining to coworkers will look bad — and you never know who might let something slip to the boss! Not complaining will also help your mood — instead of feeling like everything goes wrong for you and you alone, how pitiful, you can nix those thoughts immediately and make yourself have a better attitude, which will help you get back to business quicker. You’ll be prepared for that deadline before you know it!

Featured photo credit: indi.ca via flickr.com

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