6 Bad Career Habits You Need to Ditch in 2021

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 22, 2024 at 3:37PM UTC

It’s been quite a year. We were thrust into a global pandemic that upended our lives (work and personal). We encountered challenges we’ve never had to confront before. And through it all, we’ve tried to hold it together and keep moving.

It’s natural that during this pivot to largely remote work, we may have developed some less-than-ideal work habits. But it’s not too late to confront them. Here are six bad career habits you need to say goodbye to in the new year.

1. Showing up to Zoom meetings late.

Sure, we’ve all had moments when our wifi falters. But if you’re perpetually showing up to Zoom meetings late, it’s really no different from showing up to an in-person meeting late. The answer? Stop doing it! Really, this comes off worse than being tardy to an in-person meeting, because you can’t blame it on traffic or train delays. 

If you know you frequently have Zoom hiccups, log on five minutes earlier so you can troubleshoot. 

2. Being unreachable during the workday.

Your colleagues and managers can’t track you down in the office, so you need to be reachable (digitally or by phone) during work hours. Maybe that means keeping Outlook or Gmail running in the background or ensuring that the sound on your phone is on. Either way, don't disappear for hours on end. Your colleagues should be able to contact you during the same hours they were able to before the pandemic.

3. Letting your personal life infiltrate your work life.

At the same time, it’s important to establish clear boundaries between your personal life and your work life. This can be difficult when your home is also your office, especially if you don’t have many rooms in your home. But do your best to keep the two world separate.

For example, don’t work while you’re in bed; instead, establish a separate section of your home that’s designated as your workspace (don’t use that space to watch TV or eat dinner). If you can, have separate email accounts for work and personal messages, too.

4. Not setting structure.

Start each day with a to-do list. While you don’t have to stick to it (things happen, after all), just having that structure will help guide your day. It will also give you a greater sense of accomplishment to be able to complete the tasks you’ve set out for yourself and help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to do in a given day.

5. Ignoring personal hygiene.

Memes about people not showering since the pandemic started are abounding. Funny as it may be, maintaining personal hygiene, even when you’re not going to see people for the day, is important for your mental health as much as it is for your physical health. You don’t feel very good about yourself if you’ve been wearing the same sweatpants for two weeks, do you? And you aren’t really in a professional mindset, are you?

You’ll feel better about yourself if you shower, change your clothes and generally maintain your typical routine.

6. Failing to set a log-off time.

When you’re working from home, it’s hard to know when to sign off for the day. You may even feel guilty about stopping work — your computer is just sitting there! But it’s also extremely important for your mental health that you designate work time and personal time. If you don’t log off for the day, you’ll quickly end up burnt out.

That’s why you should set a time when you’ll log off from the work day and have personal time, whether that means spending time with your family or roommates, winding down with a good book or having a glass of wine. There will be days when you might need to work a little late — that’s true of the in-person work environment, too — but try to stick to your sign-off time as much as possible.

The new year is a time to start over. Make ditching this bad work habits your new year’s resolution in 2021!

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