We all have office habits, some good and some bad. We recognize some of our bad habits as distinctly “bad,” but at the same time, we keep engaging in them because it’s what we’re used to (or maybe we’ve gotten used to getting away with them). In any case, these bad habits make a lasting impact on your position–not only will your work performance suffer, you’ll likely make a worse impression on your peers and supervisors, even if you don’t notice right away.

The sooner you recognize these bad habits and take the steps to correct them, the better your career development is going to fare:

  1. Complaining. There’s a difference between expressing an opinion and outright complaining about something. Complaining recognizes a problem, showcases it in a harsh light, and doesn’t offer any solutions to solve that problem. In effect, it creates more problems. It casts a negative light on your environment, makes you seem both unproductive and querulous, and perhaps even more significantly, will bring down your own mood. As you’ll see momentarily, voicing your opinion is actually a good thing, but venting about issues without offering anything constructive is only going to damage your reputation and make your work environment worse.
  2. Showing up late. On the surface, punctuality may not seem like a big deal. What does it matter that you were 10 minutes late when you’re going to be in the office for 9 hours or more? But the fact is, punctuality is a subtle habit that makes a big impression on those around you. Showing up on time, consistently, will make you seem better prepared, more respectful, and harder working than your peers. By contrast, if you consistently show up late, you may come across as disorganized, flippant, or disrespectful. Everyone has bad days, and everyone is late every once in a while, but a consistent bad habit here can kill your reputation.
  3. Agreeing with everything. Yes, there’s a certain chain of command that you have to follow. You’ll be asked to do things that you don’t want to do and in some cases, you’ll “need” to do them, but that doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything your bosses say, or everything your coworkers talk about. Agreeing with everything is seductive, because it seems to be the path of least resistance, but the path of least resistance isn’t necessarily what’s best for you or for the company. You may develop a reputation for being a people-pleaser, and your sincerity may be called into question, or you may be seen as exceedingly passive, allowing people to take advantage of you.
  4. Hiding your opinion. Your company hired you for a reason. You matter, and it’s important to voice your opinion when you have one. Again, there’s a chain of command you have to follow, and in some cases your opinion will matter more than others, but hiding your opinion doesn’t do anybody any good. Keep in mind that there are appropriate times and appropriate ways to bring up your opinion (as well as inappropriate times and ways), but as long as you follow basic rules of etiquette and apply a bit of common sense, your opinions will actually help you command more respect, even in client relationships.
  5. Gossiping. This one shouldn’t require an explanation. There’s no real excuse for gossiping. Yes, it’s tempting to find out what your coworkers are doing in their personal lives, or what shady office politics are happening behind the scenes. But unless it’s directly relevant to the work you’re doing on a daily basis, it doesn’t need to be discussed.
  6. Multitasking. The science is in on this one. Unless you’re one of the tiny fraction of human beings blessed with innate abilities to multitask (hint: you aren’t), multitasking is inherently bad for your productivity and your state of mind. Even seemingly simple forms of multitasking, such as performing busywork on a tablet while having a simple phone conversation, becomes unmanageable after only a few minutes. It’s impossible to do two tasks at the same time without dropping efficiency in at least one of those tasks (usually both). Save yourself some time and increase your own performance by focusing on one task at a time.
  7. The Basics. After you’ve been in your position for a few months to a few years, you know the routine. You know you can come in, accomplish a few sets of tasks in a specific order, achieve a certain threshold of quality in your performance, and leave at a certain time. These are the “basics” of your job, and if you want to get anywhere in your career, you need to stop going through them. You need to recommend new ideas, exceed the minimum performance standards, and go out of your way to stand out if you want any kind of recognition or advancement.

It’s not easy to break a bad habit, especially one that’s manifested over an extended course of time. Most workers end up engaging in these activities occasionally, and it’s not a big deal if you break from the norm every once in a while, but for the majority of your working time, these are actions to be avoided. Raise your awareness of your participation in them, and work to gradually weed them out of your usual behavioral patterns.