Dreaming of the fastest way to advance in your career? The time it takes to pull up to a drive-thru window and order a large fry is how fast we want to go from intern to CEO. We’ve got places to go and success to obtain.
The ambitious gear needs to be in overdrive to get to the next rung on the ladder, but before you go accelerating, know that there are some speed limits.
Despite what you’ve heard about the surefire ways that’ll get you to the top sooner, some habits can actually end up labeling you as a doormat—and doormats are not fun.
Here are six habits you should nix early in your career to ensure you aren’t being counterproductive in your pursuit of success:
1. Not taking your lunch break
You want to show your manager you understand meeting deadlines is crucial, and sometimes it means skipping your lunch to get that report done by noon—but every day shouldn’t look like this.
On days you don’t have tight deadlines, take a break to replenish your mind and body. The company isn’t going to plummet in stock if you take 30 minutes to eat your sub sandwich. Eat your lunch and enjoy every bite. Take some time to step away from your desk, go chat up another coworker and enjoy the break.
2. Answering emails after hours
Your personal time is just that—personal. It’s your time to spend doing what you love to do, whether that’s hiking or lounging by the pool playing Candy Crush. And what you love to do probably doesn’t include monitoring your work email like your life depends on it.
Relax. Work-life balance is a must. There are times when you’ll need to be on-call for a project that’s extended itself after hours. Other than those times, toss your work phone aside and make a point not to look at it until the next business day. Your boss emailing you pictures of her vacation to Mykonos doesn’t warrant an immediate reply.
3. Not using your paid time off
One of the best parts of the benefits package is the vacation time! But what’s fun about it if you never use what you’ve earned? You can and you should use your vacation time. All of it.
The constant workload will often make you feel there will never be a perfect time to break away and go surfing in Maui, but the truth is there’s never a perfect time to do anything in life. The work will always be there. Set aside some time with your manager early on to discuss your vacation plans and all the projects that need to be completed before your trip. Simple.
4. Over-explaining yourself
You need to go to the doctor because you’ve been experiencing an annoying pain in your leg. Does your manager need to know why you have to leave early to go to the doctor? Absolutely not.
Sometimes we over-explain our situation to our employers to prove why we need the time off. A 12-minute synopsis is unnecessary. Things that happen in your personal life are your business. Providing a doctor’s note is the best way to show you’re being honest.
5. Not speaking up in meetings
Maybe you’re the newbie at the company or you just got promoted to a new division, but it’s not an excuse for not speaking up at every opportunity when you’re invited to a meeting.
Never underestimate the importance of what you have to contribute. Your creative idea could help launch a viral social media campaign. More often than not, someone else will say the exact thing you were terrified to say, and everyone will end up loving the idea. Don’t let this happen; own your ideas and speak confidently about them.
6. Taking on more work than you can handle
You’re only one person. You can’t do all the work by yourself. You shouldn’t have to, either. Sure, you want to impress your manager and other colleagues by showing them you know how to work efficiently and can handle your workload, but never compromise the quality of your work because you have too many other tasks to complete.
It’s okay to speak up and let your manager know when you’ve reached your capacity on the tasks you’ve been assigned. Speaking up, expressing concern about your workload and prioritizing your tasks will make you look responsible rather than incompetent.
What are some habits you feel can actually hinder your success rather than help it?