Make no mistake about it. Bad habits are called "bad" for a reason. They kill our productivity and creativity. They slow us down. They hold us back from achieving our goals. And they're detrimental to our health.
Of course, some bad habits are worse than others. Here are 10 of the worst things that you may be doing on a daily basis:
1. Eating when you're not hungry
I get it. You're so busy that you don't notice that you're snacking on potato chips and candy throughout the day. The problem with this is that when you're not in sync with your body's natural hunger and satisfaction signals, you start overeating. This can lead to weight gain and health concerns like heart disease and diabetes and, you know, being fat.
How to fix it: Make sure you're eating for the right reason: You're hungry. Don't eat because you're angry, bored, sad, or stressed. When you do snack, stick with healthier options like fruits, veggies, nuts, and low-fat, whole-grain products. Also, put your snack on a plate and sit down at the table to enjoy it, like you would for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. No more out-of-the-box.
2. Using your mobile devices in bed
You probably don't realize that this can seriously impact your sleep, as well as productivity. Research has found that by staring at the blue and white lights that are emitted from digital screens you're preventing your brain from releasing the hormone melatonin. This hormone notifies your body when it's time to fall asleep. By not releasing melatonin, you have a harder time falling and staying asleep. When you're tired the next day, it more difficult to stay focused and remain productive.
How to fix it: Ditch the phone and read a book before you go to sleep. If you're worried that you'll be tempted to check your phone, place it across the bedroom so you won't look at it throughout the night.
Science has found that "not only does expressing negativity tend not to make us feel better, it's also catching, making listeners feel worse." Even more troublesome, constantly complaining can harm your physical and mental health by making you more stressed out. In fact, complaining can literally kill you.
How to fix it: Learning how to not complain doesn't come easy. But it is possible. The first thing to do is to accept that the world isn't perfect and that sometimes things aren't going to go your way. You should also work on owning up to your mistakes, being less judgmental about yourself as well as others, and becoming more assertive.
4. Being unorganized
You may think having a cluttered desk isn't that big of a deal. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Disorganization can stunt your professional growth and decrease your productivity. It wastes your valuable time, and can make you feel more anxious and stressed.
How to fix it: To become more organized, start by writing down important reminders and making schedules. Also give everything a home so that you can place things in their rightful location. Make sure you declutter regularly, such as every Friday before you go home for the weekend.
Research has found that multitasking isn't effective. In fact, despite the myth, multitasking has been found to be less productive than doing one task at a time. The reason? Our brains just aren't capable of successfully completing two tasks simultaneously.
How to fix it: Do one thing at a time. The most effective way is by writing down a to-do list every night with your most important tasks for the following day. Start with the first task, cross it off, and then move on to the next task.
6. Not having a savings goal or plan
Whether you are saving for retirement or creating an emergency fund, having money set aside and collecting interest can reduce stress since you don't have to worry about the future or any "what-if" scenarios. Trust me. Knowing that you have money to fall back on just in case is a real lifesaver.
How to fix it: Automate your savings. For example, take a certain percentage of your paycheck and automatically deposit it into a savings account. This ensures that you're constantly saving money.
7. Putting yourself into debt
Stressing out over your finances can do some serious damage to your health. Money concerns can cause high blood pressure, ulcers, digestive problems, headaches, depression, and muscle tension or lower-back pain.
How to fix it: Take control of your finances by creating and sticking to a budget. This will help you understand how you're spending your money each month so you can plan accordingly. For example, if you're spending more than you earn, it's time to start trimming the fat.
"Gossip creates gall, envy, and torture that disrupt digestion and create mal-stress," writes Dr. Kathy Dooley. "This stress exacerbates anxiety, tension headaches, and other pre-existing symptoms associated with stress." On top of that, gossip can hurt others and disrupt an otherwise healthy relationship and workplace environment.
How to fix it: Believe it or not, a little gossip can bond people, as long as it's done correctly, which means it shouldn't be self-righteous or malicious. I would still recommend that you don't get caught in the gossip. If you need to confide in someone, make sure it's someone you can trust, like a spouse or best friend.
9. Smoking cigarettes
Smoking can result in cancer, long-term respiratory diseases, and heart disease. It's also expensive and just plain nasty. I honestly don't know anyone who enjoys the stench of stale cigarette smoke.
How to fix it: Quitting smoking is hard. Because it's so addictive, you may have to seek counseling or a behavioral therapist. However, there are nicotine replacements and medicine that can also help you.
10. Making excuses
Don't get me wrong. There are times in our lives that prevent us from reaching deadlines or completing goals. Instead of explaining why we failed, you have to own up to it. Remember, excuses aren't going to help us become more productive or successful. They're just a crutch that we use to explain our shortcomings.
How to fix it: Begin by setting realistic and attainable goals so that you're not setting yourself up for failure. Then, establish your priorities and learn to embrace failure. Most important, when you mess up, hold yourself accountable. You'll be surprised at how liberating it feels.