20 Habits You Must Kick Right Now and Be a Better Person
Better, faster, stronger.
This is not only the mantra of fans from Daft Punk and "The Six Million Dollar Man," but also from life hackers around the world who are looking for ways to make their lives better. The first step on your way to self-improvement is to level the playing field by getting rid of bad habits that are slowing you down. (See also: 5 Habits You Must Break to Become More Self Confident)
By eliminating these 20 bad habits, you set up yourself to tackle any challenge.
People are, by nature, social. When we put our heads together, we are able to achieve great things, such as the Pyramids or the Powerpoint presentations due Monday.
1. Being Late
"80% of life is showing up," recommends Woody Allen. If your personal clock keeps on running 15 to 30 minutes behind everybody else's, then people are going to stop relying on you and find a replacement. Make it a habit to show up to meetings and appointments 15 minutes early. This buys you time for any last-minute surprises and shows people that you are taking them seriously. Being on time is the easiest way to show respect.
2. Texting During Conversations
A major turn-off for co-workers, friends, and relatives is your obsession with your smartphone or tablet during conversations. Trying to answer an email and posting a tweet while your spouse is asking you what would you like for dinner is just plain rude. Not to mention that it's making you dumber. Studies show that multitasking lowers your IQ as much as missing a whole night's sleep — and more than smoking pot.
3. Making the World Circle Around You
Complaining too much, constantly fishing for compliments, de-emphasizing actual compliments, and cutting people off mid-sentence are red flags that you are too self-centered. You are not the center of the universe, and your problems are not bigger than everybody else's. Start using "you" more often than "I" and make an effort to let others speak more than you do. Remember that "being a good listener" is a compliment, and one that shows others that you care for others.
4. Telling "Little White Lies"
No one likes being lied to. Yet, we still keep telling ourselves that is okay to do tell white lies. Even those lies that supposedly hurt nobody cast a shadow of doubt on your integrity. Tell enough of them, and people won't listen to you anymore. To start limiting the number of lies you dish out every day, try the "Little Jimmy Test." Little Jimmy is your five-year-old kid — would you be okay with him saying what you are about to say?
5. Oversharing in Social Media
If you Instagram, Vine, or Facebook every aspect of your life, you may be alienating yourself from friends and family. Not everybody wants to be tagged in every picture or be included in every check-in. Respect the privacy of others and ask before you share any information about somebody else.
Remember your New Year's resolution to lose weight this year? It is going to take more than wishful thinking to get it done.
6. Drinking Soda
Studies have shown that people that consume soda have an 11% increase in cholesterol compared with people that drink other beverages. And drinking diet soda is no good either. In a 10-year study, people who drank two diet sodas a day had a 500% increase in waist circumference. Switch soda for water and you will keep both your cholesterol and waistline in check. On top of that, drinking water when we are thirsty boosts our brain's performance in mental tests.
7. Binge Drinking
While light to moderate drinking has been shown to have health benefits, pounding three or more drinks in a row, raises your blood pressure and lowers your vitamin B1. This vitamin is necessary for a healthy nervous system. Stop binge drinking and, if you must drink, limit yourself to two drinks.
8. Late Night Snacking in Front of TV
Not watching what you're eating is going to increase the amount of food you gobble. By eating while distracted not only do you eat 10% more, but also 25% more at a later meal. There are three ways to attack this bad habit. First, hide snacks from yourself so that you are less likely to reach for them. Second, use a very small plate to limit the size of your snack. Third, choose lighter snacks, such as fruits and veggies.
9. Skipping Breakfast
Mom was right, again. Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day. Men that frequently skip breakfast have a 27% higher risk of suffering a heart attack or fatal coronary disease, compared to those that eat breakfast daily. In the case of women, skipping breakfast increases their risk of type 2 diabetes. Make your momma proud and take the time to fix yourself a healthy breakfast every day. (See also: 9 Make Ahead, Freezable Hot Breakfasts)
10. Wearing Headphones All the Time
If you are using your headphones at 60% of their maximum volume for a total of 60 minutes a day, then you are already a victim of irreversible hearing loss. Start observing the 60/60 rule regarding volume and duration, buy larger headphones that rest over the ear instead of inside the ear, and preserve your hearing.
11. Getting Sunburned Too Often
Your risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, doubles if you have five or more sunburns. Don't test your luck. Make it a daily habit to use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Hats, sunglasses, and UV-blocking clothing are also good ideas. Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and keep completely away from tanning booths.
"Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver," said Ayn Rand. It is time to reclaim your seat at the driving wheel and kick these financial bad habits to the curb. (See also: 25 Dumb Habits That Are Keeping You in Debt)
12. Paying Credit Cards Late
One of the top reasons that your credit card balances never seem to go down is that you keep paying past the due date. Every time you do that, you're slammed with a fine of up to $35. On top of that, your creditor is likely to increase your interest rate after too many late payments. To fix this, set up an automatic payment plan or contact your credit card company to move your due date.
13. Buying "Deals" for Premium Goods
Have you ever had to buy something because it was a once in a lifetime deal? Turns out you may have been better off without such deal in the first place. Research suggests that "coupons for premium-priced products can actually make consumers spend more money than they would have spent in the absence of coupons." Our minds are tricked to focus on the coupon rather than total price, so we end up spending more than we originally intended. By focusing on saving $200, you end up spending over $1,000 and…
14. Busting Your Budget
The king of all financial bad habits. You need to kick this one as soon as possible.
When making your budget be sure you're capturing all your spending. By making a very thorough list, you will plan ahead better and increase your chances of keeping within your means.
15. Overspending on Media Consumption
Your iTunes habit may be killing your hearing and your wallet. The price of $1.29 per song may not seem that much, but if you buy 100 songs throughout the year, then you are spending $129. If you have your iTunes account connected to your credit card, yes that credit card that you always pay late, you need to re-evaluate your media consumption. Analyze your options and check out whether paying per song or buying a subscription is the better deal. (See also: Buy or Subscribe: How to Pay the Least for the Media You Love the Most)
16. Not Saving for Retirement
Make your golden years truly golden by starting a retirement account. It is never too late and there are options available, no matter how close you may be to your retirement age. (See also: This Is the Basic Intro to Having a Retirement Fund That Everyone Needs to Read)
Becoming more productive is at the top of almost everybody's to-do list.
17. Taking Mental Notes
Talking about lists, your main productive challenge may be that you're not committing tasks to paper. Start using the notes app from your smartphone to jot down your objectives for the day. Include important information, such as what is the deadline, what you need to complete it, and who you need to contact. Check your list several times during the day so that you can clearly see what you need to do.
18. Not Committing to Deadlines
Deadlines force us to take action. Here is a quick lifehack from psychology and behavioral professor, Dan Ariely: "Publicly committing to a deadline is a powerful motivator because it puts your reputation on the line." Nobody likes to disappoint friends and colleagues, so this gives you that second wind and adrenaline rush to meet your deadline on time.
19. Being Too Available
If you have Skype, Twitter, Whatsapp, email, and a smartphone on at all times, your work output is going to suffer. While it is a good idea to be accessible, it has to be within specified hours. When you need to get work done, you need to limit your access. This means turning off the phone, shutting down messaging apps, and finding a private space. If you committed publicly to a deadline, your friends and coworkers understand that you are trying to meet that deadline.
20. Overfocusing on Email
Email is a productivity trap.
- If an email chain goes beyond two replies, pick up the phone.
- If a co-worker two cubicles down emails you too much, walk over to her.
- Your incorrect use of email might make you look rude.
What are some other bad habits that need to be in this list? Please share in comments!