Feeling guilty about some of your bad work habits? They could be helping more than you think. (Getty Images/Alvarez)
Bad habits at work—when carried out in moderation—could actually improve your well-being or productivity, experts say.
“Life is not about being perfect, but about making the most of both the good and the bad aspects,” says life coach Joshua Zuchter. “We find a way to make the most of our blessings or even our curses and bad habits.”
If you’re feeling guilty about procrastinating or being messy, here are five examples of bad habits that have some benefits.
1. TAKING MULTIPLE BREAKS
Taking too many, or lengthy, breaks at the office becomes an issue if it’s affecting the quality of your work or creating resentment among your team. But taking enough time away from your desk is vital to productivity—whether it’s a quick meditation break or using all of your vacation days.
“Standing up and moving your legs every 20 minutes is the best way to oxygenate your blood and keep your brain working,” says Perry Gladstone, executive coach, mentor and adviser. “Make quick, little tours of the space around you so if someone is waiting, it’s only for a few moments.”
2. ACTING INACCESSIBLE
Being accessible and approachable are key to building relationships and trust with your team. Employees who have approachable managers are likelier to contribute ideas. But being accessible anywhere and anytime—providing instant responses to emails, texts and other prompts—can take you away from your important work.
“Just because we can do this doesn’t mean we should do this,” says Ann Gomez, a Toronto-based productivity consultant, and president of Clear Concept Inc. “If we are constantly on the alert, we can never carve out focused time for deep thinking and high-quality work.”
3. BEING MESSY
It’s a common bad habit and to some it might suggest you lack discipline. But having messy habits has been connected to greater creativity. Research published in Psychological Science suggests that clean spaces might be too conventional to let inspiration flow. A neat and organized desk or office may be more calming, but if your work requires more creative thought, don’t be afraid to leave some clutter around.
4. SKIPPING MEETINGS
Have a reputation for missing meetings? Some may assume you’re simply unreliable, but maybe you’ve just read that the vast majority of meetings are too long and unproductive.
“Missing yet another time-killer and getting the important points from a colleague afterwards saves time and energy,” says Gladstone. He adds that to avoid this as a leader, set a clear agenda, stop time, invite only who needs to be there and insist they come with proposed solutions.
We live in a culture where we’re constantly multitasking and are distracted to the point where we may not be doing our best work. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to put things off for a while.
“As the saying goes, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority,” adds Gomez. “Pick a small set of priorities and focus your time on them so you can do them really well.” For other tasks, procrastinate a little longer.
THE REAL BAD HABITS
Some bad habits carry far fewer advantages. Read more about productivity killers like texting and email in the office and the effects of office tardiness.