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Build Your Career Get Ahead

6 Bad Career Habits to Break This Year

Credit: BlueSkyImage/Shutterstock

Office life means doing a lot of the same tasks repetitively and settling into a routine. You may not even think twice about your work habits, but certain ways of doing things can hurt your productivity, and even damage your professional reputation over time.

"People are so busy with their routine, that sometimes they stop analyzing what's going on around [them]," said George Levin, CEO and co-founder of GetIntent, an advertising tech company. "They can't see cause-effect relations and may make the same mistakes without thinking of what causes them."

If your New Year's resolution is to improve your career, here are six common actions you should aim to eliminate in the coming year. [See Related Story: 9 Career-Boosting Habits You Should Adopt in 2017]

Meetings take too much time with too little value, said Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike project management software. In 2017, try to end this habit and implement meetings that matter.  

"I'd rather have my calendar full of ten, 15-minute one-on-one meetings in which we make decisions and leave with clear action items, than a two-hour team meeting that results in less clarity and confusion than people entered with," Filev said.

He suggests setting clear goals and bringing all the information you need to make decisions.

Smart workers know better than to spread rumors about their colleagues, but many people get sucked into the occasional game of "he said, she said" in the office. Or perhaps you don't contribute to the conversations, but you've listened intently when someone else told a juicy story. You spend most of your waking hours with these individuals, so it's only natural that they'd be the subject of less-than-professional conversations now and then, right? Not necessarily, said Cristin Sturchio, global head of talent at business research company Third Bridge.

"You might think that everyone does it and it's no big deal, [but] office gossip is harmful," Sturchio told Business News Daily. "If you align yourself with gossips, your reputation will suffer, because people know who the gossips are in a company and they are not trusted. Besides, if someone is talking to you about someone else, what do you think they're saying about you when you're not around? Be brave and politely tell the people around to stop gossiping."

Multitasking is sometimes unavoidable, but it often makes you less productive overall: When you treat your brain like a firehose that sprays your input on all your projects at once, it dilutes the impact you make on any of them, said Filev.

He noted that a good way to work on multiple projects simultaneously is to manage your time, silence distractions, and use defined blocks of time to focus on your various initiatives.  

"These are little habits that we've all done: Answering an email while on a conference call, or responding to chats about one project while in a meeting about another," Filev said. "It's killing your focus and creative thinking. "

Putting off the stress or boredom of an undesirable task by taking a break to do something you enjoy more is one of the simple, but guilty, pleasure. However, procrastination could be hurting you more than you realize.

"It's making you work longer hours and weekends, increasing your stress, and maybe even pushing you into unhealthy choices like smoking or stress-eating," Filev said. "So break the habit this year, and see great results."

You've seen them in movies and TV shows, and probably even know some yourself: the people who take the boss's word as gospel and never dare to disagree. Sucking up and telling the boss exactly what he or she wants to hear may seem like a smart strategy to stay on management's good side, and you should support your manager if you genuinely agree with his or her approach. But the truth is, no one likes a sycophant.

"What is the value of an employee if he or she doesn't bring anything to the table?" said Ruslan Fazlyev, CEO of e-commerce solution Ecwid. "Companies hire different individuals for their unique perspectives and skills. So do not hesitate to speak up when you think there is a better way to address something."     

Continue to do tasks the same way it has always been done is the death of progress, said Filev. Kick the mentality of "this is how we've always done it" and start the new year by taking a serious look at your processes, and investing the time into improving them.

"It may be a little extra work in the short term, but in the long term it can make a huge difference for your work and your happiness," Filev said.

Additional reporting by Nicole Taylor. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Shannon Gausepohl

Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field, and is currently a staff writer at Business News Daily. Shannon is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.