Stop Doing This At Work

  • Published on:
    October 17, 2014
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Have you come into the office in the morning and noticed that one of your coworkers is at it again with his/her annoying habit(s)? Do you have a habit that others find annoying? What about counterproductive habits? Do you fall prey to a lack of productivity in your daily routine?

There are many habits that people could find to be annoying to others or counterproductive, but for the sake of this post we’ve limited. Please leave a comment with any other habits you think should be banned. We would love to read what others are experiencing.

We’ll start with the obvious:

1: Checking personal social media and email at work


These activities are a distraction at best. They can lead to mistakes on your work tasks, missing deadlines, and losing your focus. They kill time that you could be spending getting things done.

These activities are a distraction at best. They can lead to mistakes on your work tasks, missing deadlines, and losing your focus. They kill time that you could be spending getting things done.


Use a website blocker service to prevent you from accessing your personal sites both on the computer and any mobile devices you may have with you. Sometimes, companies block certain websites for you, but you should block the others yourself if they’re still accessible.


Website blockers

Concentrate (Mac only)
Focus Lock (Android)

Activity tracker
Checky (iPhone)

2: Listening to music without headphones


You really annoy your neighboring coworkers, especially if you don’t share a similar taste in music. Using an online music player such as Pandora or Spotify can lead to distractions when they go to commercials or to a song you don’t want to listen to.


Invest in headphones, not ear buds. Ear buds start to hurt your inner ear after prolonged use, and some headphones can also provide background noise reduction, which can help immensely with your concentration. It could also be beneficial to purchase songs or accounts that allow you to create your own playlists with only songs you want to hear and no commercials.


Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Headphone Review sites –
CNET: Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones of 2014
PC Mag: The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

3: Sitting at your desk all day


It’s not only bad for your physical health, such as making you sore and tired. It also drains your emotions and can lower your mood, or even make you irritable.


Use a break timer to remind you to stand up and stretch. I use “Stand Up!” on my iPhone, and it works wonders for me. Even without the app, it would help you out a lot if you took breaks between tasks to get up and walk around the office for a few minutes.

4: No personal interactions with coworkers


You can lose touch with your purpose and motivation when you stay isolated in your own space. It can cause you to feel lonely and even lower your mood and productivity.


Get away from your desk and intentionally seek out coworkers (those who aren’t busy with something else) to have a brief, personal conversation with. Visit your coworkers in the lunch room and eat with them there or wherever you can. Take a moment during your break (habit 3) to stop at someone else’s desk and check in with them. Just don’t interrupt them while they are in the middle of something.

5: Staying available past your pre-assigned work hours


You can burn yourself out because you build a reputation for being available 24/7. Your phone will ring and emails come in at all hours. They’re really hard to ignore if you don’t set boundaries.


Mark your calendar and inform your coworkers and boss as to what your exact hours are, and unless there’s an emergency, event, or other exception, stick to those hours. Don’t allow yourself to come to work extra early or stay at work extra late when it really isn’t necessary. If you stay focused and committed during work hours, it should be easier to finish tasks so that you don’t have to stay late. Otherwise, let it sit till the morning, if you can.

6: Not eating lunch


Without food to fuel your mind and body, you can hit heavy exhaustion midday, and those 5-hour energy drinks can only do so much for so long. They also aren’t a good solution for every workday of the every week. Without lunch, you also risk a worsened mood, such as irritability, which might become noticeable by others if you’re not careful. It also can affect your productivity because you essentially slow down as the day progresses.


Eat lunch, but avoid anything unhealthy or heavy. Bring lunch with you or buy a lunch. However, make sure it isn’t fast food or a feast. A well-supplied salad or light sandwich might do the trick. If you eat too much or choose anything too unhealthy, you risk experiencing the opposite effect where you become more tired.

7: Trusting yourself to remember your tasks list by memory alone/not taking notes or creating to-do lists


This may seem obvious, but a person’s memory is flawed. Most people can’t remember everything, and even with a really good memory, you still might have trouble maintaining proper prioritization. You might miss tasks or fail to do the more important ones before the less important ones. Overall, you could simply lose track.


Print or handwrite prioritized to-do lists in whatever way that works best for you. Place these lists in multiple places where you can see and refer to them. Don’t keep the lists exclusively on your work computer. While you don’t want to be reminded of them during non-work hours, you might find it helpful to use a mobile to-do app for its extra features, such as alarms.


Task list of choice: Todoist

It works on every device you can think of practically, and it’s very useful. It has a free version, but I highly recommend investing in premium.

8: Making personal phone calls during non-break times


You’re letting all your close-proximity coworkers hear information that may be very private and personal to you, which they ultimately shouldn’t know about. You also can distract your coworkers with the noise of the call. Not only that, you allow yourself to be distracted when you take any non-work calls.


If you think it’s an emergency, you have to take the call, but the best way to do so is by relocating to a private room. However, my guess is a lot of the personal calls you make and answer are not urgent and can wait until you’re on a break. Even then, find a private place to have that call.

9: Not asking for help when you need it


There will be times when you’ll hit a roadblock in one or more assignments. You shouldn’t just guess or leave it undone because that can lead to errors, ranging from minor to severe.


Ask a coworker for help, or schedule a meeting with your boss. Don’t try to solve it all on your own. Ask your boss for clarification and even assistance if he/she has the time.

10a: Always assuming that your needs are less important than your coworkers


This attitude towards yourself can damage your productivity, but it also can affect your own feelings of self-worth. You can lose your sense of motivation and purpose, leading to a much lower work output.


Consult your to-do list (habit #7) for deadlines and priorities to determine if your needs truly are pressing and must be addressed immediately. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you need to because that’s the only way you’ll be heard.

10b: Always assuming that your needs are more important than your coworkers


Having this attitude gives you a bad reputation in the office for being selfish and needy. You don’t want your coworkers to think of you that way, and you especially don’t want your boss to feel the same way.


Be realistic by looking at your own timeline and tasks to see if your needs truly are that urgent each time. Observe your coworkers to see if they have anything pressing that they need help with too, and ask them what kind of deadlines they face. Do they need the help faster than you do?



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