The Bad Habits You Shouldn’t Bring With You to a New Job
If you’re a traditional worker, falling into a bad habit at work can haunt you for years. If you’re a consultant, on the other hand, you can leave that bad habit behind as soon as you pack up your things and start a new job.
But before you can start fresh, you need to know which habits are holding you back and which ones are worth keeping. These four routines might seem innocuous, but they can subtly derail your career.
Being the Last to Leave the Office
Most professionals assume they’re advancing their careers by staying late each and every night. After all, the reasoning goes, not only do you get more done, but you prove how dedicated you are.
However, research suggests working overtime makes your daily productivity plunge drastically—so you actually knock as many items off your to-do list by leaving the office at 5 P.M. as 9 P.M. Plus, your stress levels move in the opposite direction: up and up. Not to mention working too much can put your health at serious risk.
The nail in the staying-late coffin? Every time your coworkers see you at your desk while they walk out the door, or get an email from you with a late time stamp, they feel implicitly pressured to adopt the same schedule.
If you’ve got an urgent deadline or unexpected crisis, you should stay at the office until it’s resolved. But on a normal night, if you’ve completed all of your normal responsibilities, go home.
Showing Up at 9:01 (or 12:31, or 4:46)
If your time is filled with meetings, status updates, video calls, and team discussions, well, you’re not alone. Because people are always running from scheduled thing to scheduled thing, a dangerous—and completely false—assumption has started to spread: that it’s okay to be one to five minutes late.
Showing up at 9:01 A.M. when a meeting has been arranged for 9:00 A.M. isn’t okay. Not only does it tell the other participants that you think your time is more valuable than theirs, it also throws off the entire flow of the meeting. If they choose start without you, then they have to waste precious time catching you up; if they wait, they’ve lost precious time for the actual business at hand.
Long story short: aim to be two or three minutes early for everything. If you can’t make that, arrive exactly on time. Finding it impossible to be punctual suggests you need to schedule fewer commitments—or control them more tightly so they don’t run over their allotted time.
Always Skipping After-Work Get-Togethers
At the end of a long week, you’re probably dying to pull on some comfortable clothes, lounge on the couch, and read, watch Netflix, or simply sleep.
So when your coworkers shoot you a chat message asking if you want to grab dinner with them, your knee-jerk response is probably, “Sorry, I can’t.”
While saying no every once in a while is completely fine, saying no to every invitation you get isn’t. You’ll miss out on valuable opportunities to get to know other professionals in your field or industry; plus, scientists have found team members who socialize away from their desks are dramatically more efficient.
If you’re really not into Friday night dinners, say no—then suggest an alternative. For instance, you could respond, “Agh, really looking forward to just relaxing. Are you guys free on Wednesday for lunch?”
Not Keeping Track of Your Progress
Between all the emails, reports, files, and paperwork you’re responsible for, you’ve got enough writing on your plate—but yes, you should add another. Keeping a running list of your accomplishments is beneficial for a couple reasons.
First, it lets you monitor how much progress you’re making. If you’ve gone, say, a week without doing anything noteworthy, that’s probably a signal something’s wrong.
Second, a list gives you a great reference for meetings with your supervisor, your resume, and future interviews. Imagine you’ve just wrapped up a half-year consulting job, and you want to update your resume. Rather than trying to remember everything you accomplished, which usually results in generic or vague statements, you can turn back to your notes and get a play-by-play description.
Lastly, it’ll enable you to objectively review your strengths.
About Signature Consultants, LLC
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the seventh consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is now the 14th largest IT staffing firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 26 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit www.sigconsult.com.