10 toxic work habits that you probably think are totally normal
Whether you love your job or hate it, and whether you’ve been there for 10 years or 10 minutes, we all get into routines at work that really aren’t great for our mental health or our productivity. After all, it’s tough not to develop certain habits at work since most of us spend the vast majority of our waking moments at our jobs.
When you so much time at work — whether you’re livin’ that 9 to 5 office life, or you work in a less traditional workplace, or you’re doin’ like Fifth Harmony and working from home — you’re bound to develop some toxic workplace habits that will do more than just annoy your coworkers.
It may seem like rolling into a meeting five minutes late is NBD, or sharing stories about your wild weekend with your super-cool boss only makes work more fun, but these habits are definitely ones you’ll want to keep an eye on to keep the peace both with your coworkers and with yourself.
You may never truly *love* going to work, but breaking these toxic work habits will help ensure that your work grind is as pleasant as can possibly be.
1You’re a Negative Nancy.
Or a Debbie Downer or a…You get the point. It may seem like an easy way to commiserate with your coworkers when the coffee machine is broken again or that pesky client won’t stop bothering you for a response, but here’s the thing: Negativity breeds more negativity. We all have things about our jobs that we hate, but when you’re constantly complaining to those around you, you’re bound to bring everybody down, too. No one is saying you need to be perky and happy all the time, but giving off negative vibes all the time is not a healthy way to live, fam.
2You’re the real Gossip Girl.
Let’s be real: A little harmless office gossip can breathe life into an otherwise dull day at work, but you may want to keep it to a minimum. Getting to know your coworkers can help create lifelong friendships even if you end up moving on in time, but constantly spreading gossip is a recipe for disaster in the long run.
It may be fun to chit chat about the latest rumored office fling, but if people find out that you’re the one spreading the rumors, they might stop trusting you with information — and not just about their weekend plans. People don’t generally want to work with someone that they can’t trust, and you don’t want to end up being the office Lonely Boy, right? You’ve been warned…xoxo.
3You hit snooze…again and again.
If you’re lucky enough to have a casual workplace or a boss that you love (and who loves you back!), congratulations! That still doesn’t give you license to show up for work late on a regular basis, or roll into the staff meeting five minutes late (even though everyone know those first five minutes are reserved for small talk and queuing up the PowerPoint presentation).
Part of being a reliable employee means showing up on time most of the time, as hard as it can be. Of course, things happen (trains are delayed, tires go flat, coffee gets spilled) but you should make an effort to be on time for most work-related activities. People notice more than you may think they do.
4You try to become besties with your boss.
One of the most challenging parts of any job is impressing your boss, which makes sense: Your supervisor is the person who shapes so much of your experience at work, beyond just deciding your raise or year-end bonus. But even if you are #blessed to have a supportive, thoughtful, and understanding boss, you should always keep in mind that they are still your boss.
No matter the dynamics of your relationships, you should still strive to maintain a level of respect and professionalism when dealing with higher-ups at any job. So even if your boss loves hearing about your wedding plans or your new puppy, you may want to skip telling them about your wild bachelorette weekend or the time last weekend when you threw up outside a Taco Bell.
5You procrastinate — a lot.
Sure, it may seem like no big deal when your work gets done as long as it gets done, but procrastinating is one of those habits that is really hard to break, even though you should. Even if you work well under pressure, procrastinating is ultimately a reflection on your time management skills, with the added stress of worrying about hitting that deadline in time. Plus, if you work in a collaborative environment, it’s entirely possible that your procrastination is preventing someone else from getting their work done, and that’s just not cool.
6You’re only focused on your job.
Part of working anywhere is understanding the value of being a team player, and that sometimes means doing things that are outside your job description. If you balk every single time someone asks you to do something that maybe isn’t part of your job, you could be losing out on opportunities to learn new skills and get to know people you might not otherwise. It’s not a bad idea to keep an open mind when someone asks an unexpected favor of you (within reason, of course).
7You have no boundaries.
That said, it can be very easy to fall into a trap of never learning how to say “no.” This can be especially tricky for young women. When you’re conditioned to constantly say yes and attempt to juggle everything, it can be hard when a boss from a different department or a slightly senior employee starts to take advantage of your inability to say no.
An essential thing to do for your professional life (and your overall mental health): Learn how to assert yourself and stand your ground so that you don’t become a pushover, taking on more weight than you can carry. Though it feels unnatural at first for most of us, it’s an invaluable tool.
8You never take a lunch break.
It may seem much more convenient to have a “working lunch” at your desk every day (or worse, not eating at all), but skipping a lunch break to increase productivity is actually terrible for you. When things at work are hectic and we’re frazzled, it’s easy to think that stopping to eat lunch is just a big waste of time, but we’re here to tell you the cold, hard truth: You need to take a break at work.
Preferably, you’re taking regular breaks that involve getting up, going outside to eat, and taking a stroll in the fresh air, but if that’s not realistic, you still must take time every single day to step away from your workspace and nourish your body properly. Taking a proper break gives you the energy to clear your mind, and eating a balanced meal will give you the strength and nourishment you need to get through the day.
So figure out what works best for you and commit to it. Maybe you have time to take a lunch time workout class or go for a walk while listening to a podcast. Or maybe you only have time to run to Starbucks down the block or grab food from the cafeteria. Whatever works for you, just do it.
9Your phone is glued to your fingers.
On the other hand, if you totally hate your job, or it isn’t challenging, it can be so easy to get sucked into a social media void, where you emerge four hours later after browsing the Sephora Beauty Insider sale, watching five make-up tutorial videos, and taking every quiz on BuzzFeed’s home page. Or perhaps you’re caught up in a group text, sharing cat memes with your pals all day as you laugh about your hijinks from last night.
Even if you think you’re being sneaky, there’s a solid chance your boss knows what you’re up to. Keep the texting to a minimum, and save the quizzes for your lunch break. We know it’s hard, but you can do it!
10You’re a slob.
If your desk is covered in piles of paper, you may think it’s only impacting you, but a messy workspace negatively impacts both you and your colleagues. Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, an etiquette and civility expert and author of Don’t Burp in the Boardroom recently told Business Insider why sloppiness at work is a major no-no:
"Whether you're at your desk or in the break room, being known as the office slob is never a compliment...Leaving your mess behind shows lack of responsibility or consideration, arrogance, and immaturity."
A gentle reminder that you should always leave communal spaces like the office kitchen, restrooms, and conference rooms cleaner than you left them. Your coworkers will thank you, and it’ll be so much easier to find those budget reports you worked on last week!