Bad habits like complaining and procrastinating could benefit you in the workplace
Your bad habits could work to your benefit on the job.
Procrastinating, gum chewing and complaining are all glaring faux pas at the office, but they could be signs that you’re smarter than you think.
Here’s how to turn some of your negative traits into positive ones at work:
Waiting until the last minute to finish a project or deadline is stress inducing, no doubt and around 20% of people claim to do it chronically, according to the American Psychological Association. But there are some upsides.
The negative habit can actually boost creativity, according to scientists at Wharton Business School. Researchers found that when procrastinators start working on a task and then do something else while the original project is still in the back of their minds, they’re able to form new ideas and solutions.
Procrastinators who postpone work are also said to be more in control of their time and use it with better intent without worrying about missing deadlines. There are two types of procrastination: active and passive procrastination. Active procrastination means you know you’re delaying a dull task or something that needs to get done, like laundry, but instead you do something more valuable with your time. Passive on the other hand is simply doing nothing, which a bit more problematic. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has also said she takes a break from work to browse social media aimlessly every now and again like the rest of us.
If you have to make a major business decision, it’s best to figure out how long you have to make it and then wait until the last minute to do it, according to a study by University of San Diego professor Frank Partnoy, author of “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay.” This will eliminate the back and forth of grappling with the decision and promote going with your initial instinct.
Complaining can get you what you want at work
There’s a right way to gripe, and that doesn’t mean whining at work.
Strategically complaining to those who have the power to fix the problem is more effective than just venting to a friend, even though it feels good.
The Journal of Social Psychology found that people who complained selectively, to the right people, are actually happier.
“People who are mindful are more aware of their complaining and more likely to complain strategically — in moderation and to the proper audience,” study co-author Robin Kowalski, a professor of psychology at Clemson University, said.
“Complaining in a strategic way is an intentional activity that can lead to greater happiness,” she added.
Here’s how to productively complain at the office: Present the issue in a non-accusatory way and simply state why it’s a problem. Then, tell the person — perhaps a boss or hiring manager — that anything they do to minimize the issue would be very appreciated and ask what you can do to help.
Boredom can boost creativity
Sometimes you just need to zone out.
Daydreaming — in moderation — should be embraced every now and then because it’s good for our brains, according to Manoush Zomorodi, author of “Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self.”
“When you’re bored and your body is not doing a focused activity, but you’re thinking or relaxing, you ignite a particular network in your brain called the default mode, this is when we come up with ways of combining ideas and making connections,” Zomorodi tells Moneyish.
If you’re feeling burnt out, take a walk (without your smart phone!) and carve out time to just be alone with your thoughts. Neuroscientists discovered that we get our best ideas when our attention is not fully engaged in our immediate environment, according to a 2015 Harvard Business Review study.
Gum chewing can help you stay alert
Your co-worker may snap at you for popping your gum so loudly at the office, but studies show that gum chewers are more alert.
A UK study found that people who chomped on gum performed better on an intelligence test than people who didn’t, so keep a fresh pack near your desk next time you have an important project.
© 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved