9 Bad Habits That Can Kill Your Productivity in the Office


There are a lot of factors to consider when measuring an employee’s productivity. This includes prioritizing tasks, time management, and stress management.

However, a lot of adults tend to overlook that your habits can also affect your productivity. This can explain why it is difficult for you to focus on work.

In case you are unaware, listed below are nine habits that can kill your productivity in the office.

Hitting the snooze button

Are you one of those adults who hit the snooze button after the alarm goes off, hoping that you can extend your sleep for nine more minutes? And then you suddenly open your eyes only to find out that you only have 30 minutes left to get ready and go to office?

Oversleeping is not just the reason hitting the snooze button is a bad idea.

According to Dr. Matthew Mingrone of Eos Sleep, “Hitting the snooze button is, in fact, bad for sleep and can leave you groggier and more tired than initially getting out of bed after the first alarm.”

That’s because instead of extending your sleep for an additional nine minutes, your body has to endure just having nine minutes of sleep. So instead of snoozing, it is best to set your alarm to go off when you are supposed to wake up.

Lack of morning routine

According to Maria Popova of Brain Pickings, routine helps us feel that we can contain and control the chaos of our daily life. No wonder many believe that your morning routine is one way to have a great and productive day.

There are different habits that you can include in your morning routine like making your bed, meditating, or jogging.

Just keep in mind a morning routine is not meant to tick off a lot of items on your to-do list. It is about letting yourself begin the day with peace, confidence, and a positive attitude.

Having a messy work desk

A cluttered office desk can make you feel stressed and distracted at work.

The mess created by piles of paperwork makes you subconsciously think that you are behind your daily tasks. And this can be discouraging.

In addition, it makes your eyes drift towards the mess instead of focusing on what you are working on. This is definitely counterproductive and can compromise the quality of your work.

You can solve this by having a cleaning habit. Maid Sailors, a New York office cleaning service provider suggests that before or after you start your work for the day, take the time to clean your desk. Doing so will not just help you maintain the cleanliness of your desk. It is also a great time to spend organizing your thoughts.

Tackling the easy stuff first

It can be overwhelming when you have a lot on your plate for the day. Thus, you would choose to do the easiest task to make you feel you have accomplished something.

However, doing so is the same as stalling. You tend to do the easiest ones before you dread the major tasks. What you do not realize is that your major tasks will not leave just because you are ignoring them.

If you really want to put it behind, you should tackle it first. Author Brian Tracy calls it “eating your frog.” Apparently, this is based on Mark Twain’s famous quote:

“Eat a live frog first thing every morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

In your case, the frog means your one major task of the highest priority.

Mindless browsing on the Internet

There is an ongoing debate on whether the Internet kills productivity. According to a study, 77{2cc3c9e039a98b446024c64af0ee7999126003622bc0fe6aedd9f63974a20d6b} of employees checked websites during work hours, which decreases their productivity by 1.5{2cc3c9e039a98b446024c64af0ee7999126003622bc0fe6aedd9f63974a20d6b}.

Sure, getting distracted at work is nothing new. But when can you say that the Internet is killing your productivity?

The thing is, only you can determine whether your browsing the Web makes you more productive or not. If you feel like technology is not helping you, here are some things that you can do:

  1. Consider using trackings apps to monitor your daily phone and social media use.
  2. Use apps like Forest that rewards your the time you spend away from your screen.
  3. Go for a walk, read a book, or chat with a co-worker instead.
  4. Use apps that can block the internet and social media access during specific times.

Having a long to-do list

While to-do lists are great for helping you prioritize your work, it can also kill your productivity if not done correctly.

As Caren Merrick points out, “It’s possible to have a to-do list that energizes you, helps you prioritize your day, and motivates you to keep moving forward, even after those inevitable distractions or setbacks. Yet, so many people who write out lists find themselves unable to check everything off by 6 PM. And that’s mostly because they’re not making their lists correctly.”

Here’s how you can correct it:

  1. Limit the items on your to-do list.
  2. Make your tasks clear, actionable, and specific.
  3. Schedule a break time.
  4. Give room for interruptions.
  5. Do not add any tasks that are unimportant and not urgent.

It does not matter whether you use pen and paper, an app, or write your to-do list on your computer’s notepad. What’s important is how you approach your list and tackle your daily tasks.


Being able to do two tasks at a time looks efficient. However, multitasking causes people to waste time whenever they switch from one task to another. The wasted time may look small individually, it gets accumulated in the long run.

Other than that, research conducted at  Stanford University revealed that multitaskers have low attention span. And when you are easily distracted, you are less likely to be productive.

Moreover, the study suggests that heavy multitaskers are not good with sorting relevant information vs. irrelevant ones. That said, experts advise that you focus on just one task at a time.

If your line of work makes it impossible to do that, follow Clifford Nass’ “20-minute rule.” This means to devote your time to one task for 20 minutes before switching to the other one. That way, you can still get two things done without spreading yourself too thin.

Not automating repetitive tasks

You may not notice it, but manual, repetitive tasks take up a significant amount of time on a workday. Good thing, the evolution of technology now enables you to automate some tasks.

But before you automate repetitive tasks, you need to make sure that these tasks are done regularly. Some examples are paying your bills, backing up data, and scheduling a meeting that occurs regularly.

When done right, you can reap the following benefits:

  • Reducing stress that is related to task management
  • Executing repetitive tasks without the hassle
  • Freeing up your time and attention for things that really matter
  • Reducing the risk of finding important things falling through the cracks
  • Getting more things done

Poor eating habits

A 2014 post on Harvard Business Review suggests that our eating habits can affect our productivity. Which means that poor eating habits make you less productive.

So, what is the food that you should consume and how can you improve your eating habits? Here are some quick tips:

Don’t Skip Your Breakfast

By the time you wake up, your dinner from the previous evening has been digested. Thus, it is important to refuel first thing in the morning before you get started with work.

Cut Back on Caffeine

A cup of coffee in the morning is okay. However, too much coffee in the afternoon and evening will make your brain overstimulated at bedtime. This can result in sleep deprivation.

If you are feeling thirsty, drink water instead.

Avoid Overeating

According to a study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), overeating can result in increased hunger, cravings for carbohydrates, and melancholy. This means that you might feel insatiable and agitated at work.

Wrap up

Getting yourself all psyched up at work can be difficult, especially if distractions are just a mouse click away. However, being distracted and less productive all the time can cost you your job.

Fortunately, it does not have to be this way. You can change for the better by eliminating the bad habits that can kill your productivity at work.

All you need is just a little awareness and some actionable productivity tips.

Leave a Reply