That 1 Thing… Ugh!

Communications Bad HabitWhat’s that one bad work habit you want to change but just can’t do it?

C’mon—we all have at least one. But be it one or many, these habits can drive us crazy. OMG!

Here’s my biggie bad:

  • Whenever I speak or train, I learn a ton from folks like you who are in the room or on the webinar.
    • These learnings hugely enrich my understanding of the topic (let’s say, writing for social media vs. websites). I know that weaving them into my presentation will make next time even better.
    • Plus many are the start of 5-star blog posts.

  • Each and every time I vow—as I digest your great questions, stories and recommendations—to annotate and revise my presentation and draft those posts ASAP.
    • My intent is usually to do it on the plane home or as soon as I get back to my office.
    • Like last month, when I worked with such great colleagues in Toledo to strengthen their message skills, or when I speed-coached several small-in-size but so strong organizations in Findlay, Ohio. But….

It doesn’t happen that way. The photo up top is part of the pile of notes I’m a month late on weaving into my presentation, using as fodder for blog posts, and following up with people on. Ugh!

I think you know what I mean. How can I break this bad habit, so I harvest my learning when its freshest? Please share your recommendations here.

What’s your most frustrating bad work habit? Please share here and I’ll respond with some ideas (and ask other readers to do the same) in a future blog post. If you’d like to remain anonymous, just note that in your comment. Thanks!

Nancy Schwartz on May 6, 2015 in Professional Development | 14 comments

  • Madeline Turner

    My worst habit is that I want to be involved in everything and help with every project that I oftentimes get sidetracked from the projects I should really be focused on..

  • Spending too much time on YouTube. :-)

  • Deirdre

    I’m usually diligent with follow up. But when I do run late on following up with someone, I tend to procrastinate it even more, obviously making the eventual email or phone call that much more squirm-worthy in its lateness, or, even worse, I miss the boat on whatever it is I needed to follow up on.

  • Eliza Olson

    Spending too much time on emails! Avoiding those admin duties sitting in a pile on my desk. .

  • Eliza, thanks for fessing up. How about time blocking? Give yourself a limit of x minutes/hour for email, and check on it then and only then.

    Any other ideas?

  • I’m doing the same thing on something right now, Deirdre, so I feel your pain. What do you do to get going on one of these dreaded (and growing more so) tasks?

    They can move from day to day on my calendar, but sometimes if I schedule in first thing in the morning, they do get done more promptly. I think the motivation is a “get it off my list” one.

  • Really? Hope you’re watching appropriate content, John, and staying a good model for your son.

    More seriously, give yourself a set amount of time/day for YouTubing it.That’s it. Get a timer.

  • I think Facebook is the worst habit, Nancy. You check it out – sort of the home worker’s ‘water cooler’ or coffee spot – and the next thing you know an hour has passed. But rather than thinking in terms of eliminating bad habits, I always try to think of ADDing in good habits. Like making sure those daily donor thank you calls are done before checking email or going on FB. I also have timers all over the house. And when I remember to use them, they work!

  • Maddie, gotcha. That’s tough when a great characteristic (boundless enthusiasm and curiosity) that leads to trouble like this. But this is fixable.

    A crazy thought occurs to me…bear with me here.

    So the way I think about marketing planning is that the real value lies in the planning process (where you prioritize goals and best ways to get there), rather than the document produced. That series of actions – the planning – is golden, and enables communicators to focus effectively on what is ambitious but realistic. In effect, a FRAMEWORK FOR DECISION MAKING on focusing your time and effort.

    Why not try the same for your work day? Whether you set the goals and best actions by the quarter, month or the week, use them to draft no more than one or two goals each day. Timeblock (schedule out) your day to get those done, every day.

    Maddie, I think it’ll happen. Give it a try and let me know?

    P.S. Hint: Timeblock an hour first thing every morning to hit your goal. More “noise” filters in as our work days go on.

  • So agree on Facebook. But it’s such a hard habit to break. How do you redirect yourself?

    Love your positivity, Pam, and the concept of “good” habits.. But realistically, for me, it’s more of a replacement process — out with the “bad” and in with the “good.”

    Timers are it, when we use them!

  • Susan Dennison

    I try to type of up my notes immediately after a workshop, otherwise they go into a file labeled “Type Up,” where they will sit forever, because who wants to tackle a pile of scribbles? As for bad work habit, feeling like I have to chime in (and get pulled off my own work) by my staff talking about things outside my door. I’m learning to close my door.

  • Michael Rosen

    Nancy, I have so many bad work habits, it’s tough for me to highlight just one here. Fortunately, they’re usually balanced out by my good habits. But, since you asked, here’s one of my worst habits:

    I do my best writing between midnight and 4:00 AM. While that’s good for my writing, it’s incredibly disruptive to everything else.

    When faced with a writing task, I find that I spend all day thinking about the project. Then, late at night, things get quiet and my mind slows down with just the right amount of fatigue. At that point, the words just flow effortlessly from my finger tips.

    For a weekly blog post, my writing process is not too problematic. However, when I spent nine months writing my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, my writing process was very disruptive to my professional and personal life. Fortunately, I have an understanding wife. :-)

  • Deirdre

    Great idea! Thanks Nancy. :)

  • Oh Susan, I feel your pain! I share the same bad habit and no method I’ve tried gets me out of it. Will keep you posted.

    One thing I’ve started to do is to take notes on my computer, so at least they are readable even if I don’t get back to them for a while. What I miss out on with this technique is the learning reinforcement we get in writing by hand (thank god for the progress being made in neuroscience).

    On the chiming in, is it just because you can’t resist, you don’t want to be left out of those conversations, or….?

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