5 Habits to ditch this year

I’m not a great one for making resolutions (although if you are looking for inspiration for team goals or resolutions this year, read my suggestions for team objectives) so this year I thought I’d take a different look at things.

Instead of setting myself up for failure by making promises to do new things, I wanted to turn it on its head. Let’s look instead at the things to stop doing.

Here are the 5 habits I am going to ditch this year. Will you join me?

1. Wasting time

Oh, goodness.

I do this a lot. I try really hard not to, but sometimes it takes me forever to get round to doing a difficult task.

The thing is, when I do get round to doing that difficult task it normally takes half the time I was expecting and is actually pretty easy. Procrastination is a productivity killer (and there are more productivity killers to watch out for too).

I also have to be stricter with myself about popping back into the house (my office is in the garden) and ONLY getting a cup of tea or a biscuit or whatever and then going straight back to work. I seem to waste a lot of time ‘just’ putting on the washing or ‘just’ checking the post or whatever.

To be fair, it was worse when I was self-employed as there was literally nothing to stop me doing what I wanted to prioritize. Now I’m back employed, I am much better at not wasting time because I am accountable for my projects and it makes me feel guilty not to be working during work hours!

I shall also be adopting strategies to improve team productivity so we all benefit.

I have started the process of not wasting time by tidying up my clothes. It was taking far too long to find a pair of matching socks. Check out my lovely KonMari-inspired drawer.


The next job on my list is tidying up my hanging clothes so they are easier to find and I waste less time getting dressed. I have got a hanging rail up on the wall in my bedroom so I can hang up my work clothes for the next day and avoid searching round for them in the morning.

2. Ignoring stakeholders

I wouldn’t say I do this a lot, but I do know of project managers who do.

You put your stakeholder management plan together and then put it in the (virtual) drawer and forget about it. Don’t do this.

Stakeholders can make or break your project so it’s important to work through that plan and put your ideas into action. Even overlooking one stakeholder – someone who doesn’t seem that important at the start of the project – can cause issues later on.

I’ve had a few challenges recently where stakeholders in one particular department have not been engaged early enough, but we’re working on ways to change that. Plus, it’s not a mistake you make very often!

3. Disregarding success criteria

Defining key success criteria for your project is part of the project life cycle and they crop up in various formats in a number of project initiation documents. But it’s easy to either overlook them totally and not set success criteria at all, or to set them and then fail to go back and check that you are actually meeting them.

I couldn’t hand-on-heart say that all my projects last year had success criteria, let alone ones that I went back and confirmed that I was hitting. It’s a bad habit!

If you want to crack this bad habit now, read my Definitive Guide to Project Success Criteria.

The same goes for benefits. We’re having benefits workshops routinely now, so benefits are identified and tracked, with baselines collected. This is a habit I shall be continuing.

Elizabeth looking at a notebook with a golden pen

4. Reinventing the wheel

I really have to stop this. I have already started the process of ditching this habit. I have created a monthly To Do task list for my writing work and blogging tasks, mainly because I have so little time to do any of those now, so I have to be super efficient when I can grab an hour.

I’ve also got myself a new binder which I’m calling my ‘bible’. It has sheets for every repetitive process I do (or it will have, when I’m done) including things like dealing with bank transfers in foreign currencies. These are tasks that happen from time to time but not frequently enough for me to remember exactly how to do them.

I don’t have time to try to figure these things out every month. I am hoping the ‘bible’ will stop me from doing so because it details all my work instructions. We are also transferring many processes to Infinity and writing standard operating procedures.

Standardization is the watchword for the year!

5. Sloppy meetings

I confess, I don’t always write minutes. I don’t always use agendas either, especially on the more informal meetings.

That is going to change! I know that not all meetings require minutes and an agenda, but where they do we should all use them.

If you need a helping hand with where to start, try my set of templates for great meetings (with ebook of meeting management techniques and tips included).

What are you going to change? Follow me on Instagram and let me know!

A version of this article first appeared in 2016.

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habits to ditch this year