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10 Common but Toxic Career Habits You Need to Break

10 Common but Toxic Career Habits You Need to Break

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!

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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.

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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.

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    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!

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    Featured photo credit: indi.ca via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

    10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

    When you try to think of a leader at your place of work, you might think of your boss – you know, the supervisor in the tasteful office down the hall.

    However, bosses are not the only leaders in the office, and not every boss has mastered the art of excellent leadership. Maybe the best leader you know is the co-worker sitting at the desk next to yours who is always willing to loan out her stapler and help you problem solve.

    You see, a boss’ main priority is to efficiently cross items off of the corporate to-do list, while a true leader both completes tasks and works to empower and motivate the people he or she interacts with on a daily basis.

    A leader is someone who works to improve things instead of focusing on the negatives. People acknowledge the authority of a boss, but people cherish a true leader.

    Puzzled about what it takes to be a great leader? Let’s take a look at the difference between a boss and a leader, and why cultivating quality leadership skills is essential for people who really want to make a positive impact.

    1. Leaders are compassionate human beings; bosses are cold.

    It can be easy to equate professionalism with robot-like impersonal behavior. Many bosses stay holed up in their offices and barely ever interact with staff.

    Even if your schedule is packed, you should always make time to reach out to the people around you. Remember that when you ask someone to share how they are feeling, you should be prepared to be vulnerable and open in your communication as well.

    Does acting human at the office sound silly? It’s not.

    A lack of compassion in the office leads to psychological turmoil, whereas positive connection leads to healthier staff.[1]

    If people feel that you are being open, honest and compassionate with them, they will feel able to approach your office with what is on their minds, leading to a more productive and stress-free work environment.

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    2. Leaders say “we”; bosses say “I”.

    Practice developing a team-first mentality when thinking and speaking. In meetings, talk about trying to meet deadlines as a team instead of using accusatory “you” phrases. This makes it clear that you are a part of the team, too, and that you are willing to work hard and support your team members.

    Let me explain:

    A “we” mentality shifts the office dynamic from “trying to make the boss happy” to a spirit of teamwork, goal-setting, and accomplishment.

    A “we” mentality allows for the accountability and community that is essential in the modern day workplace.

    3. Leaders develop and invest in people; bosses use people.

    Unfortunately, many office climates involve people using others to get what they want or to climb the corporate ladder. This is another example of the “me first” mentality that is so toxic in both office environments and personal relationships.

    Instead of using others or focusing on your needs, think about how you can help other people grow.

    Use your building blocks of compassion and team-mentality to stay attuned to the needs of others note the areas in which you can help them develop. A great leader wants to see his or her people flourish.

    Make a list of ways you can invest in your team members to help them develop personally and professionally, and then take action!

    4. Leaders respect people; bosses are fear-mongering.

    Earning respect from everyone on your team will take time and commitment, but the rewards are worth every ounce of effort.

    A boss who is a poor leader may try to control the office through fear and bully-like behavior. Employees who are petrified about their performance or who feel overwhelmed and stressed by unfair deadlines are probably working for a boss who uses a fear system instead of a respect system.

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    What’s the bottom line?

    Work to build respect among your team by treating everyone with fairness and kindness. Maintain a positive tone and stay reliable for those who approach you for help.

    5. Leaders give credit where it’s due; bosses only take credits.

    Looking for specific ways to gain respect from your colleagues and employees? There is no better place to start than with the simple act of giving credit where it is due.

    Don’t be tempted to take credit for things you didn’t do, and always go above and beyond to generously acknowledge those who worked on a project and performed well.

    You might be wondering how you can get started:

    • Begin by simply noticing which team member contributes what during your next project at work.
    • If possible, make mental notes. Remember that these notes should not be about ways in which team members are failing, but about ways in which they are excelling.
    • Depending on your leadership style, let people know how well they are doing either in private one-on-one meetings or in a group setting. Be honest and generous in your communication about a person’s performance.

    6. Leaders see delegation as their best friend; bosses see it as an enemy.

    If delegation is a leader’s best friend, then micromanagement is the enemy.

    Delegation equates to trust and micromanagement equates to distrust. Nothing is more frustrating for an employee than feeling that his or her every movement is being critically observed.

    Encourage trust in your office by delegating important tasks and acknowledging that your people are capable, smart individuals who can succeed!

    Delegation is a great way to cash in on the positive benefits of a psychological phenomenon called a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, a person’s expectations of another person can cause the expectations to be fulfilled.[2]

    In other words, if you truly believe that your team member can handle a project or task, he or she is more likely to deliver.

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    Learn how to delegate in my other article:

    How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

    7. Leaders work hard; bosses let others do the work.

    Delegation is not an excuse to get out of hard work. Instead of telling people to go accomplish the hardest work alone, make it clear that you are willing to pitch in and help with the hardest work of all when the need arises.

    Here’s the deal:

    Showing others that you work hard sets the tone for your whole team and will spur them on to greatness.

    The next time you catch yourself telling someone to “go”, a.k.a accomplish a difficult task alone, change your phrasing to “let’s go”, showing that you are totally willing to help and support.

    8. Leaders think long-term; bosses think short-term.

    A leader who only utilizes short-term thinking is someone who cannot be prepared or organized for the future. Your colleagues or staff members need to know that they can trust you to have a handle on things not just this week, but next month or even next year.

    Display your long-term thinking skills in group talks and meetings by sharing long-term hopes or concerns. Create plans for possible scenarios and be prepared for emergencies.

    For example, if you know that you are losing someone on your team in a few months, be prepared to share a clear plan of how you and the remaining team members can best handle the change and workload until someone new is hired.

    9. Leaders are like your colleagues; bosses are just bosses.

    Another word for colleague is collaborator. Make sure your team knows that you are “one of them” and that you want to collaborate or work side by side.

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    Not getting involved in the going ons of the office is a mistake because you will miss out on development and connection opportunities.

    As our regular readers know, I love to remind people of the importance of building routines into each day. Create a routine that encourages you to leave your isolated office and collaborate with others. Spark healthy habits that benefit both you and your co-workers.

    10. Leaders put people first; bosses put results first.

    Bosses without crucial leadership training may focus on process and results instead of people. They may stick to a pre-set systems playbook even when employees voice new ideas or concerns.

    Ignoring people’s opinions for the sake of company tradition like this is never truly beneficial to an organization.

    Here’s what I mean by process over people:

    Some organizations focus on proper structures or systems as their greatest assets instead of people. I believe that people lend real value to an organization, and that focusing on the development of people is a key ingredient for success in leadership.

    Learning to be a leader is an ongoing adventure.

    This list of differences makes it clear that, unlike an ordinary boss, a leader is able to be compassionate, inclusive, generous, and hard-working for the good of the team.

    Instead of being a stereotypical scary or micromanaging-obsessed boss, a quality leader is able to establish an atmosphere of respect and collaboration.

    Whether you are new to your work environment or a seasoned administrator, these leadership traits will help you get a jump start so that you can excel as a leader and positively impact the people around you.

    For more inspiration and guidance, you can even start keeping tabs on some of the world’s top leadership experts. With an adventurous and positive attitude, anyone can learn good leadership.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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