Ten Daily: The Seven 7 Bad Habits That Could Be Ruining Your Career - Michelle Gibbings

In this article that originally appeared in the Ten Daily website, Michelle was invite to contribute her thoughts on the bad habits that could be ruining your career. Read the seven bad habits that could be holding back your career.

You won’t get into that corner office if you don’t up your game…

It may surprise you but there are certain things you could be doing at work that aren’t great for your career. And we’re not talking about that time your photocopied your butt, here. No, in fact, we’re talking about things you’re probably doing thinking they’re good for your career.

Career expert and author of Career Leap, Michelle Gibbings, says that with many of us doing more in our work with less resources it has created a snowball effect of bad habits that could hold your career back. Are you guilty of any of these?

1. Never taking more than a week’s leave
Mini-breaks are great, but longer breaks (beyond a week) are much better at providing time to rest, recharge and reflect. “All the research is showing that because we live in such a hyper-connected world, and workplaces are stressful and constantly changing, we really need down time; we need time to reflect, we need time to regroup,” Michelle told ten daily. “A week often isn’t enough. It may mean you need to plan it, but a lot of workplaces these days, are really conscious of to get their best out of their workers and employees, they need to create that space.”

2. Never getting bored
Because we’re encouraged to be busy, you can easily worry when you have nothing to do. However, it’s when you are bored or daydreaming that you can come up with your best ideas, right? “It’s only in that moment where you have quiet time, when your brain stops worrying, that you’ll have the epiphany, that you’ll think about something,” said Michelle. “And you know, our brain is remarkable. Before you go to sleep, if you say to your brain, “Here’s the problem I want to solve overnight,” your brain will subconsciously work on that through the night. And you will wake up in the morning, and you’ll have all these ideas.”

Fascinating isn’t it? But, warned Michelle, you’re never going to have those ideas if you don’t create space to do a bit of nothing. “And that can be really hard for people to just sit and to reflect,” she continued. “And I remember someone once said to me many years ago, sometimes your best ideas will come when you’re daydreaming. So looking out the window, that’s not wasting time, that’s you processing and thinking about things.”

3. Being late for meetings
When you keep people waiting you are effectively saying to them, “My time is more important than yours”. When you do that, you are also unconsciously saying to the person that you think you are more important than them. “If you’re the person who is always late, it shows disrespect for other people. And particularly if you’re a leader, you’re basically saying to subordinates or people who are further down the food chain in the hierarchy, “I’m more important than you and I can keep you waiting.” And to me, as a leader, that is not a good reputation to build,” Michelle told ten daily. “When you’re on time, you’re saying, ‘I matter, you matter, and let’s get down to business.'”

4. Making things too hard for yourself
Research shows that when goals are set too high and too hard, we don’t make progress. Sound familiar? Michelle has a tip for that.

“Break the project down into bite sized chunks, because you want to be able to constantly show progress,” she said. “Not just to yourself — though when we make progress we feel good, we get the little kind of dopamine hit, we go, ‘Yay, I’ve actually done something’ — but also so you can share with peers, colleagues and also your boss. You need to share with people what you’re doing, what you’ve achieved, so that you get recognition for the work that you’ve done.”

5. Not getting enough sleep
Research says that people need 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and if you don’t get enough, you have the same level of cognitive impairment as if you’re drunk.

Yes, really.

“I always say to people, ‘When was it a good idea that you turn up to work drunk?'” laughed Michelle. “And yet, we often wear it as a badge of honour. ‘I’ve only had three hours of sleep,’ or ‘I’ve pulled an all-nighter’. Now, I think there are personal circumstances and there are times where it’s just not possible to get eight hours every single night, but you do need a really regular sleep pattern.”

I manage my sleep like a religion. I am really structured about it. I will say no to social engagements to make sure I get enough sleep. It is the one thing that I know I cannot be at my best, if I do not get eight hours of sleep.”
Michelle said she would also put diet and exercise in the same category as the mighty zzzzzs. “How you sleep, what you consume, how much exercise you do, all of that impacts how your brain functions. And if you want to be at peak performance, you manage your brain and you manage your energy associated with the use of your brain,” she said.

6. Always multi-tasking
When you multi-task your attention is split, and as you switch from one activity to another you lose concentration and ultimately become less productive.

“It’s what they call neuro switching. So if you’re working on a project where you’re writing a report, and then the phone rings, and someone comes into your office to have a conversation, you’ve switched three times between tasks. Report writing, phone, conversation. Every time you go back to that original task that you were doing, which was writing the report, your brain has to switch back into gear. So what happens is it takes you longer. And it will take you anywhere from 20% to 30% longer to get that original task done, than if you’d just focused on that one task.

To help? Plan your day and work in 30 to 60 minute blocks, where you solely work on one thing, then you do something else. “When I construct my day,” Michelle said, ” I’ll have writing time, then I’ll do five calls, then I’ll have meetings, then I’ll have writing time. And when I’m writing, email’s turned off, phone’s turned off silent. And so I’m creating an environment where I know I can be as productive as I possibly can be.”

7. Saying yes too often
If you always say ‘yes’, you lose your voice and your right to find the balance that works for your personal and professional life, Michelle warned.

“I’m a firm believer in, yeah, it’s good to volunteer and get yourself out there and do lots of different things and be seen as really helpful, but make sure you actually got the capacity to be able to do it. And if someone comes to you with something, and there’s something else that’s also on the agenda, ask them, what’s more important,” Michelle said. “If someone comes to you and you’re already overwhelmed with a whole heap of stuff that perhaps isn’t the best use of your time, you need to be able to say, “No.” You’re being deliberate about how you’re using your time so it’s productive.”