Unhelpful habits can hold us back. Behaviour routines repeated regularly can significantly impact the type of person you are, who you become, and – if you’re a small business owner – the overall success of your business. But here’s the thing with habits – they tend to occur subconsciously. So how can you put a stop to them, if you’re unaware you’re doing them in the first place? Awareness is key – so we’re shining a spotlight on some common destructive workplace habits below, plus ways to break them. Are there any that sound familiar?
1. Neglecting your health
Let’s start with you – the engine behind your business. If you don’t take care of your health by eating well, exercising and getting decent sleep, then you’re going to become prone to exhaustion and stress, which can trigger various illnesses. Find a way to ensure self-care is part of your daily routine – if you don’t, you’ll suddenly find yourself stressed or unwell and wondering how you got there. Prevention is key – prioritise your health and you’ll not only be preventing burnout but increasing your productivity levels in your day-to-day. You and your business will be all the better for it.
2. Easily distracted
Turn off notifications and avoid interruptions! Whether it’s signing out of email, turning your phone onto ‘do not disturb’ mode (or put it in your desk drawer!), or letting people know you’re not to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency – reducing the number of distractions you have in your day can have a massive impact on your productivity. While checking emails and messages is important as a business owner, try to move away from reactive working by scheduling specific times to do this.
3. Being a perfectionist
While some areas of your business require attention to detail, others do not and aren’t worth your time making perfect. What tasks are you currently spending your time on? Could they fall into a ‘that will do’ category? It’s time to prioritise your time by parking the perfectionism.
4. Being negative
Frustration, stress, exhaustion… a number of factors can contribute to negative feelings, which can affect your productivity and overall passion for your business. Projecting negativity can harm relationships between yourself and any colleagues, clients, suppliers, etc. Encourage a more positive outlook by thinking about what might be frustrating you – and how you might be able to address these areas. Is your workload unmanageable? Are you anxious about the future? Are you not celebrating your small wins enough? Delegation, outsourcing, long-term strategy planning, and treating yourself now and again can all help encourage a more positive outlook.
5. Being disorganised
There are so many tools and techniques available to turn the most disorganised of people into productivity powerhouses. It all comes down to having the right systems in place that work best for you. For example, if you’re struggling to give an important task the time it needs, block out time in your calendar to specifically work on it. It will also ensure other meetings don’t take this time up in your day. Are your digital files categorised into folders? Do you have a filing cabinet for important paperwork, organised into categories for quick access? Are you making use of online tools that can help you manage your workload better, store easy-to-access client information, and streamline time-consuming processes? For example, if there are more than a couple of you working in your business, consider a collaboration tool that will streamline your workflow and improve communication such as Asana, Trello, and Monday.com. You can also get your working week off to a quicker start by writing your to-do list on Friday.
6. Fear of feedback
Fear of criticism can really hold both yourself and your business back from progressing for the better. You might not be aware you do it, as it’s more something that you’re not doing! By regularly seeking feedback, you’re giving yourself the best opportunity to learn about what others feel needs improving – whether it’s asking for reviews of your services/products, or receiving feedback from your team on how happy they are working for you. Being open to feedback shows clients and colleagues that they’re valued and that you’re dedicated to providing the best service and working environment possible.
7. Sidelining your education
It’s common for busy business owners to put their own education on the back bench while they passionately funnel their attention into the running of their business. However, the most successful people never stop learning – whether it’s reading about new trends, your market, industry, new technology, new marketing techniques, analysing your own data, etc, you should always be looking to learn. Ensure you carve out some time in your diary for this – your business will thank you for it.
8. Fear of change (metathesiophobia)
It’s commonly known that our mental health fares best when we have structure and routine in our everyday lives – if we look back in time, our ancestors preferred constancy as they inherently knew that change often brought a lack of safety, as they had to move around to search for food, water, and shelter in order to survive. Humans are naturally wired to fear change for a number of reasons but, when it comes to your business, putting your head in the sand and ignoring opportunities that will change your business for the better could have disastrous consequences. Whether it’s embracing digital technology to streamline your processes and provide better data security, or pivoting your business offering in response to a change in customer behaviour, a change really could do you good.