Bad Habits at Work That Hurt Your Productivity

| 6 min read
Bad Habits at Work that Hurt Your Productivity (1)

Ugly workplace habits that make you unproductive

As an employee, you want to ensure that you stay productive and one of the ways to achieve this is to work smarter with as little distraction as possible.

However, one of the biggest obstacles that lie on your journey is bad habits that kill your productivity. Bad habits have a way of sabotaging your efforts and the earlier you address this problem, the better.

In this piece, we will look at some habits that clearly stand in the way of your productivity.

Drifting into browsing

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The internet is awash with information and the temptation to impulsively surf the web is a bad habit you have to put a stop to. From checking up a quick question on Google to looking at the scoreline of the soccer game you missed last night or watching a quick YouTube video tutorial, the distraction from the internet is real. You have to consider this a big distraction that impacts your productivity negatively.

What to do:

Write out a list of things you want to check on the internet when you are done with the tasks you have prioritised for the day. This way, you don’t have to look up every random thing that pop up in your head all the time.

Thinking about the big picture

When at work, it’s okay to think about the big picture but when you do it too frequently, then it becomes a problem. Thinking about the big picture helps you see the relevance of all the separate tasks that have been assigned to you and how they all come together towards achieving the company’s objective. However, if your mind constantly veers off tasks you are working on to dwell on this, your productivity will suffer.

What to do:

You should think less of the big picture during active working hours especially when you are working on tasks. You have plenty of time to do that after work or before office hours resume.


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Are you one of those people who never hesitate to say they are multitasking? If you are, then it is probably one of the reasons your productivity level suffers. According to a survey, 98% of people are horrible at multitasking.

Multitasking cuts down your attention span and as expected, your productivity goes on a decline.

What to do:

Outline your task for the day/week with timelines according to their level of priority



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The more meetings you attend, the less productive you are likely to be. When unnecessary meetings become frequent, they will unavoidably get in the way of productivity because your concentration level will always be broken.

What to do:

Before you attend any meeting, ensure that the agenda of the meeting is clearly spelt out and only attend those meeting that deservedly require your time and attention. Even when that is done, you should cut down on the time that has been requested for.

Napping with your phone/laptop

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It’s okay to take a nap at work. Some companies even have nap rooms dedicated to this. However, when you take a nap with your phone next to you, you are setting yourself up for a declining level of productivity. Studies have shown that the phone and laptop screens emit blue light, which suppresses the production of melatonin. Sadly, individuals with low melatonin level are prone to depression.

What to do:

When the mental and physical fatigue really begins to get to you at work, take a nap. While napping, keep your phones and laptops away. There will be time to come back to your gadgets when your nap is over.


When you spend a chunk of your time sifting through tonnes of information without deciding which ones to keep and which to discard, you will not be productive. Indecision is a killer of productivity.

What to do:

Use the 2-minute rule to make decisions when filtering information required to work on a task. For the 2-minute rule, give yourself nothing more than 2 minutes when you have to make a decision on tasks you are working on.

Putting easy tasks first

There are people who start their days at work with easy tasks while keeping the tougher tasks till later in the day. This strategy is a bad idea and anti-productive. What happens when this strategy is applied is that crucial tasks suffer and usually end up not getting done.

According to self-control researcher Roy Baumeister, the willpower that you have to get tasks done will steadily decrease throughout the day. Like a water tank, it is at its fullest in the early hours of the day but continues to diminish as the day wears on. As a result, when you leave important tasks till later in the day, they will not get your best.

What to do:

Do the most important things first at work. Ensure you focus your time and energy on achieving this on a daily basis and you are bound to be more productive.

Checking emails too frequently


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While it is important to ensure you respond to your emails on time, doing this too frequently will affect your overall productivity. Did you know that every single time you check your email, you lose as much as 25 minutes of time you would have spent working? This is not an efficient way to work.

What to do:

You should close your email tab for at least 30 minutes to allow you to concentrate on your work for a stretch of time. This will increase your creativity.

Responding to friends and family

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Are you one of those people with a lot of friends on social media? If you cultivate the habit of responding to every single message you receive on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp at work, your productivity will plunge and you will rarely get any job done.

What to do:

Dedicate a time of your day at work; perhaps during lunch break, to respond to messages you might have missed while working.

Biting more than you can chew

Before you schedule tasks for a day/week, you have to draw up realistic targets. If it takes you 4 hours to put one proposal together, don’t line up 3 proposals on your to-do list for a day. You’ll end up frustrated and unproductive. Keep your targets achievable.

What to do:

Focus more on priority tasks. Don’t overload your desk with more tasks than you can possibly accomplish.
What other bad habit at work have you encountered and how can it be conquered?

Samod Biobaku
A Nigeria-based writer and blogger who has written and edited for top brands including The SUN, Punch, Newswatch,, Bigsam Media, Nigerian Bulletin, Swish Interativ, Hello Nigeria, National LIFE, iCampus, Jobberman and Cheki.