Bad Work Habits

I was reading the giant September issue of Glamour the other night and there was a short article on work habits that can impact your health. Most of them I’m guilty of but two really stuck out at me: eating lunch at my desk and sitting all day.

Eating at my desk can be an easy thing to do, especially when I’m working against a deadline. The article brings up the point that those who eat lunch while working at their desk tend to eat over 100 calories more later in the day than those who do not because more often than not, those eating at their desk aren’t paying attention to their food. That’s something that rings through to other places where you’re not focusing on your food. Think of the times you snack in front of the tv. I know when I do that, unless I sit down with a predetermined amount, I snack through half the bag before I know it. If I think back on the last few times I’ve eaten at my desk, I do think I’ve snacked a lot more in the afternoon. Part of it wanting to think about eating something (because I ignored my lunch) and part of it is I’m ready for the break and eating seems like the thing to do. That means either going on a hallway walk searching for chocolate or off to Starbucks for a more calorie heavy coffee break than I would do on a normal weekday.

The other thing I notice I tend to do is sitting at my desk all day or at least for hours on end. Some days I’m so slammed with meetings I’m hardly at my desk long enough to check email. Sometimes those days go on for a weeks. So the times I can sit in my office with no meetings, I do just that. I sit at my desk for hours with very few breaks and when I do break, it’s to take a quick walk down the hall for more water then back at it. I notice on these days that my hips hurt when I get up. I know it’s bad for me the minute I do it. While I try my best to get up and go talk to people (instead of emailing or calling them) and I try to take 10-15 minute walks around the building or take a break to walk the stairs, I don’t do it often enough. I let work get in the way of my health all too often.

Other bad work habits that are impacting my health?

  • Checking emails after hours (all the time). Checking emails before I leave for the office or once I’m home for the night once or twice keeps my brain in somewhat of a constant state of work mode. That’s not good for my stress levels.
  • Responding to emails almost immediately when I’m at my desk – I think this is bad because it increases my stress whenever I’m interrupting my work. It’s my own fault and I try to let it go, but sometimes it’s hard. People expect you to read emails as soon as they send them. They call right after they send them asking if I saw it. Really? If it’s that important, they should be calling, then emailing but that’s not how most function. At any rate, it’s not good.
  • Not saying no. Always telling people I can take care of it doesn’t help my workload and that’s how I end up checking emails all the time and working more than 40 hours a week.
  • Not delegating. It was a long hard battle for me to learn to delegate. I still struggle a little. I’m a control freak and extremely anal about how I want things. If I have a vision, I want it executed perfectly. If it’s not, then I’m really hard on myself. When I delegate a task and someone doesn’t do it right, I have to fight myself to teach them the correct way and not just take it back and do it myself.

A lot of these stress-inducing habits of mine lead to physical signs of stress such as an eye twitch (in my right eye), watery eye (in my left eye), chapped lips, and a extremely localized pain point in my back. All of these things have shown up at one time or another in my career and sometimes they’ve all shown up at the same time. That’s when I call UNCLE! But I’m also very aware they’re work stress related because they seem to disappear on the weekends and often come back without fail on Monday mornings when things are stressful at work.

Do you have bad work habits? How do you overcome them?


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