Stop These 10 Habits & Be Happy at Work

happy at work

No matter how detailed my to-do list is or how diligently I try to stick to it, I always find myself overwhelmed at 2 p.m., making a mad dash to get things done.

This end-of-the-day crunch time leaves me exhausted and dreading what the next morning holds.

So how does an organized professional like me end up feeling like I’m giving everything, yet leaving with a sense that I’ve accomplished nothing?

Even more importantly, is there a way I can identify what I’m doing wrong, change it around to work in my favor and end each day with a sense of accomplishment instead of frustration?


Here are 10 bad habits that are killing my work happiness and may be killing yours too. Stop them and be happy at work.

1. Doing Everything Alone

Taking the lead on a project and doing everything yourself is a bad habit that needs to be broken. It might actually slow down progress.

It certainly doesn’t maximize the assets available to you. Teamwork is the key to success, and surely your fellow peers have talents and skills to share.

What To Do Instead:

  • Boost productivity and team ethics by recruiting help from your coworkers.
  • Identify professional strengths and delegate parts of projects to others.
  • Pull the pieces together, polish it off and submit it as a team. Not only did you meet the deadline ahead of schedule, you displayed true leadership to your peers and superiors.

2. Always Saying Yes

Identifying yourself as that one employee who always says yes isn’t always a good thing. Although employers appreciate workers who can be counted on to commit to any project thrown their way, if the job isn’t done correctly it will hurt your professional image.

Saying yes to every single request is toxic and may set you back with more than just added stress.

What To Do Instead:

  •  Take a moment to analyze whether this request will help to support your professional goals.
  • Estimate the actual amount of time the project will take and determine whether you can physically execute it, along with your other duties, by the deadline.
  • Get comfortable with and understand that it’s okay to say no.

3. Comparing Yourself To Others

It seems natural to want to compare ourselves to others as a way of measuring our own personal and professional successes. Unfortunately, we tend to stack our accomplishments up against those far better off than us.

This destructive habit will always produce negative feelings and crush your self-esteem and potential self-image.

What To Do Instead:

  • Compare your present self to your past self.
  • Take a snapshot of your personal life and professional life from five years ago, or even two years ago, and review the accomplishments.
  • Visualize everything you have done to get where you are today. Then jot down ideals of what the future you, five years from now, will look like.
  • Know that you can reach those goals and more.

4. Working Only for a Paycheck

Everyone has bills to pay, but a job should provide more than just an income. If you don’t find pride in the work you do and get genuine satisfaction from your job, you will ultimately find yourself miserable, wasting away years at a job you hate.

What To Do Instead:

  • Be honest with yourself. Is the salary really worth the emotional toll?
  • Determine the average salary for a career you would genuinely enjoy.
  • Look into your current budget and cut anything that is indulgent and unnecessary. Making a little less while reporting to a job you truly love is worth every dollar decreased from your current pay rate.

5. Eating at Your Desk

How many days out of the week do you dine on your packed lunch in the company of your work computer? If you think denying yourself from a lunch break is putting you ahead through an extra hour’s worth of work, think again.

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t eat lunch at your desk, including that it can actually decrease productivity.

What To Do Instead:

  • Schedule your lunch break on your work calendar, just as you would any other meeting or appointment.
  • Break away from anywhere there is fluorescent lighting. Soaking up some sunshine during each break can help re-energize and rejuvenate.

6. Dreading Your Commute

Whether your drive time is 15 minutes or an hour, you may find yourself in a rut sticking with the same old commute day after day. People spend an average of 600 hours per year in their cars.* With so much time spent in the car, it’s important to find ways to enjoy it.

What To Do Instead:

  • Maximize your time by enjoying an audio book. Your local library has plenty of free options.
  • Carpool with someone else. Besides the obvious benefits of saving on gas and drive time, you gain a de-stressing buddy to download with at the end of the day.
  • Determine if there’s a better route. Mobile apps like Waze and Inrix Traffic give you a live snapshot of your drive, which allows you to see if there may be a better option.

7. Hoarding Your Vacation Time

There’s nothing wrong with being dedicated to your job, but every battery running at 100% needs a recharge every once in a while. Instead of hoarding those precious vacation days, plan a stress-free vacation to recharge and beat burn out.

What To Do Instead:

  • Schedule a vacation day on a Friday or Monday and enjoy a 3-day weekend.
  • Plan a week-long vacation for the summer months during the dead of winter. It will give you something to look forward to.
  • Visit a destination that keeps your mind stimulated on the present, and don’t check your work email while you’re away.

8. Complaining Constantly

Dwelling on the negative and being a constant complainer can be toxic for you and your entire department. Oftentimes, it makes a situation seem worse than it actually is. Whether the complainer is you or a co-worker, break free from pessimism and watch your work environment improve instantly.

What To Do Instead: 

  • Practice positive self-talk, which can elevate your mood and improve overall happiness.
  • Spend more time with fellow employees who maintain a positive attitude.
  • Keep a gratitude journal with lists of things for which you’re grateful. List something in it every day and review your lists often.

9. Wasting Time

Do you procrastinate in the morning by checking personal emails or Facebook on work time? Starting your day off poorly can cause a domino effect of decreased productivity throughout the entire day.

This bad habit will set you back and leave you constantly feeling behind. Nix those bad habits and replace them with morning habits that will actually set you up for success.

What To Do Instead: 

  • Start the day by creating a reasonable to-do list — stick to it.
  • Highlight items on your to-do list that need immediate attention.
  • Set a timeline for completing each item.

10. Letting People Ramble

We’ve all had a co-worker who, after asking him or her one innocent question, can corner you into listening to a seemingly never-ending story. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid these people forever. But you can learn to master the art of evasion and improve your skill of professional interruption.

What To Do Instead:

  • Use body language such as eye contact and hand gestures to interrupt the conversation.
  • Involve others. If it gets bad you can always send out an SOS email to your closest co-worker signaling “Save me please!”
  • Interrupt by using a phrase such as “That reminds me” and return the focus to work.

By owning up to these common bad work habits and dedicating our efforts toward a more efficient work day, we can boost our self-confidence. We can also increase our professional potential and feel great about our career.

Seeking out a more productive way to do things allows us to end the madness and revel in office bliss — the ultimate goal of being happy at work.

(Photo by Highways Agency / CC BY)

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on finding happiness and success in the work world. You can find her dishing out advice with a side of wit on Twitter and her career advice blog, Punched Clocks.   *For the average time spent in cars and other surprising facts, check out this infographic about people and their cars.


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