Bad habits are an inevitable part of office life. As I type this, my keyboard is covered in the gritty remains of an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids, even though I promised myself that I was going to stop eating junk food while working. I won’t even mention how much chocolate I keep stashed in my bottom desk drawer for really stressful days.
Thankfully, not all bad habits have to be a liability. In fact, with a little creativity, you can actually make them work to the benefit of your career. Whether you’re a water cooler regular or a Tweetaholic, read on for a few ideas on how to leverage your bad habits to your advantage.
Your Bad Habit: Office Talk
You’re a Chatty Cathy. You have plenty of work to do, but you just can’t miss out on the gossip happening in the break room. And before you know it, you’ve just spent an hour talking to your co-workers about everything from the new guy in finance to the last episode of Downton Abbey.
Make it Work for You
You’re obviously a people-person, which can be a great asset—when used appropriately. If you’re working solo all day, ask your boss for opportunities to collaborate on group projects or meet face-to-face with clients. Even a few hours of working with others each week will break up the monotony of spending time alone at your desk. You’ll feel more energized and motivated, which will help you stay on task when you’re tempted to indulge in a lengthy chat-fest with your co-workers.
You can also put your social skills to good use by offering to organize teambuilding activities like an office potluck or a department-wide happy hour. Your boss will be impressed that you’re interested in boosting office morale, and you’ll have something fun to look forward to during the week.
Your Bad Habit: Daydream On
If daydreaming was an Olympic sport, you’d win the gold medal. It’s just so hard to get anything accomplished when you’re thinking about your upcoming vacation, the dinner party you’re hosting the weekend, and what you’re going to do with your bonus check—wait, it’s 4 PM already?
Make it Work for You
Believe it or not, daydreaming can actually be a positive asset in the workplace. According to Psychology Today, daydreaming can help spark creativity and solve problems. Google even lets its employees spend 20% of their time (that’s one day of the work week!) daydreaming and exploring ideas that interest them to help promote innovation.
Rather than feel guilty about letting your mind wander, make your imagination work to your benefit. Give yourself 10 minutes every other hour or so to mentally unwind and just let your thoughts drift. Your brain will get a much-needed break, and you may stumble across a solution or new idea that might not have occurred to you otherwise. (Keep a pen and paper handy so that you can jot down anything that comes to mind.) But by setting a time limit on your daydreaming, you’ll ensure that you spend the majority of your day focused on the tasks at hand.
Your Bad Habit: Social (Media) Butterfly
You just can’t unplug from all of your social networks. When you’re not RTing articles and posting witty news commentary, you’re wishing one of your 900 friends “Happy Birthday” on Facebook or triple checking to see how many likes your most recent Instagram photo received.
Make it Work for You
Social networking addicts love the rush that comes from connecting with other people. Unfortunately, your boss is not going to be impressed when she sees you posting about your personal life instead of working.
Why not channel your tech-savvy ways into something that will help your career? Ask your supervisor if you can get involved with your company’s social media efforts. Many bosses would love to have someone who knows the ins and outs of social networking help maximize the company’s web presence. It’s a win-win situation—you’ll get your social media fix, and your company will get a revamped Facebook page, a state-of-the-art LinkedIn profile, and a Twitter feed that always has fresh content.
The next time you’re at work and you get the urge to indulge in one of your favorite bad habits, relax. Everyone has their temptations, but now you have the tools to make your faults work for you rather than against.
Well, unless your weakness is Sour Patch Kids.
What bad habits do you have at work? Have you figured out a way to use them to your advantage?