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Career Center: Four Bad Work Habits You Should Break

If your job is wearing you out, or you just plain hate it, have you ever considered that you may be contributing to the problem? Lateral Link has come up with four bad office practices that are detrimental to your career.

Find out if you’re guilty of any of these bad work habits, and how you can break them….

1. Writing and reading emails too hastily. At best, a hastily written email that contains misspellings or is sent to the wrong recipients will give you instant notoriety on Above the Law. At worst, it may cost you your job. For most people, it will fall somewhere in between (i.e., it will give others the impression that you are incompetent, careless, or lazy, among other things). In addition, the message itself may come across as confusing, or even offensive to the recipient. It takes only a few seconds to proofread an email and to check whether you’ve entered the correct recipients, but it goes a long way in terms of your professionalism. And if you are writing a long email or sending an email to someone important like a client, set aside some extra time to review it before hitting send.

Similarly, if you hastily read an email, you run the risk of misunderstanding or overlooking something. You may think you’re saving time on the front end by being efficient, but it can cost you on the back end if you and the sender have to rehash what was said in the email. So slow down while reading emails, and re-read them if necessary. Remember, whether you like it or not, the emails you write and your responses to emails you read are a reflection of you, so do your part to always look your best.

2. Surfing the internet. Before you get the work day started, you usually settle in at your computer and cycle through all your favorite websites: Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Above the Law, etc. While there’s no real harm in doing that, if you multiply that by the number of times per day you go back to these websites to look for updates, you probably waste a good chunk of precious billable time. And that doesn’t even include the times when you get completely sidetracked by something you read. Now you’ll have to stay later at the office or do more work at home to make up for the lost time. No one should care how you spend your time in the office, you tell yourself, as long as you meet your deadlines. But if your superiors take notice of your low productivity levels or how distracted you are at work, you can be sure they will let you know in a performance review.

If you absolutely must surf the internet at work, keep it to a minimum by designating certain times during the day when you’ll check your sites.

3. Having a negative attitude. As an attorney, it’s almost expected that you complain about your job. You probably bond with your colleagues by grumbling about the partners, management, secretaries, hours, assignments — anything and everything. While sometimes it can be nice to have someone to commiserate with, be careful to keep your negativity in check. What may start off as lighthearted chatter can easily escalate into something worse. Being known for having a negative attitude can damage your reputation and make you look like you’re not a team player. It can also bring down the quality of your work.

Instead of complaining about the things that you can’t change, focus on what you can improve. Avoid spending too much time with the people who you know will bring out the negativity in you, or be ready to steer the conversation to another topic if it starts heading in that direction again.

4. Not having a plan of attack for the day. Perhaps you go to work with a nebulous idea of what tasks you need to tackle for the day. But once you get to the office, you go on the defensive and start responding to email after email. Before you know it, most of your morning is gone. Then you have meetings scheduled in the afternoon, and at the end of the day, you haven’t accomplished what you really needed to do. When you don’t have a plan of attack, you end up reacting to whatever the day throws at you. Your important work piles up, and it’s no wonder that you have to spend your evenings finishing it.

At the end of each day, spend some time prioritizing what you need to accomplish for the next day and planning how you will do it. And don’t forget to build in cushions for the unexpected emergencies that may arise. Then write down your plan, or set reminders for yourself throughout the day to keep you on track. The more specific and realistic your plan is, the more likely you will stick to it.

Find additional career resources at the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.