It’s much easier to pick up bad habits than to build good ones.
Everyone has habits they know they should break for one reason or another.
But how do you know when something actually is a bad habit — and not just a quirk?
Hint? Quirks are cute. Bad habits . . . not so cute.
When was the last time you felt warm and fuzzy after someone launched into a political rant at the dinner table?
Bad habits can have long-term consequences for you and the people you care about.
Hence this list of 145 bad habits to avoid. Because once you call those habits what they are, you can take action to replace them with better ones.
What is Considered a Bad Habit?
A bad habit would flunk a cost-benefit analysis. When you’re honest about why you haven’t broken the habit and about how it affects you, the cost is greater than the benefit.
And you want to quit it. You really do. But it’s still hard. Because it’s a habit. You do it without thinking. And sometimes, it makes your life a tiny bit more tolerable in the moment.
After all, some folks call an awful lot of habits “bad” that don’t really bother you.
So, how do you know it’s truly a bad habit and not just quirky behavior? Look for the following clues:
Some bad habits are worse than others. And you might have some habits that would appall someone proud of their good habits but that don’t really bother you and the people whose opinions of you matter most.
Don’t choose which habits to break based on what Miss Manners would say. This is your life. And you’re the one most deeply affected by the habits you keep.
Ask yourself, as you find your own habits in the list whether you want to see yourself with those same habits five years from now.
10 Most Common Bad Habits
If you have any of the following habits, you’re in good company. These are the most frequently mentioned bad habits, and some of them you may not even want to break. Or maybe you just don’t consider breaking those habits a high priority.
Only when they adversely affect your life or someone else’s do they become a problem you can’t ignore.
- Obsessive social networking
- Poor eating habits (stress-eating, overeating, skipping meals)
- Poor sleeping habits (too much sleep, too little, etc.)
- Poor spending habits
- Excessive profanity
- Overthinking and worrying
In the lists below, we’ll break down some of the more general or inclusive examples of bad habits into more specific ones.
27 of the Most Annoying Bad Habits
Some bad habits are more annoying than others. Some are just distracting, while others make your life and others’ more difficult or stressful.
Some can cheat you of opportunities to advance in your chosen field, while others can put strain on your relationships.
Look down the list and be honest with yourself about the habits that are making your life (or someone else’s) more challenging than necessary.
- Talking in a baby voice
- Ending every sentence with “Not!” or “As if!”
- Using “AF” to modify every adjective (e.g., “I’m busy AF”)
- Being more than 5 minutes late for an appointment/meeting.
- Cluttering your living/workspace
- Leaving the toilet seat up
- Leaving clothes on the floor
- Leaving sopping wet bath towels on the floor
- Pretending things are okay when they’re not
- Taking things personally
- Overchecking / obsessing over your appearance
- Being overly affectionate with PDA
- Talking in “text speak” (e.g., “Omg!” and “LOL!”)
- Overusing slang
- Overusing profanity
- Checking your smartphone during meals
- Launching into a tirade over something during meals
- Eating with your mouth open
- Freeloading / mooching off others
- Talking during movies
- Popping, snapping, or playing with your gum in public
- Loudly slurping your drink
- Loudly belching in public
- Criticizing yourself (habitually)
- Laughing loudly at everything
33 Bad Habits for Health and Fitness
Some of these habits will have a direct effect on your mental and physical well-being; the best way to correct them is through reasonable self-care.
You don’t have to be perfect, but no one should have to go through life in survival mode.
Other bad habits listed here just make it harder for others to be around you when you’re working out at the gym.
Most of these can be fixed by treating others as you want to be treated (golden rule stuff).
- Staying up too late and sleeping in too late
- Sleeping too little
- Sitting for too long (i.e., a sedentary lifestyle)
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Eating too much (binge-eating)
- Eating too little
- Skipping self-care to get more work done
- Slouching (poor posture)
- Not drinking enough water
- Drinking too much coffee/caffeine
- Distracted driving
- Wearing headphones for too long
- Wearing the wrong shoes
- Stress-eating or emotional eating
- Eating too quickly or absent-mindedly
- Never taking breaks (while working)
- Eating fast food to save time
- Taking dangerous stimulants (uppers, hyper-caffeinated drinks, etc.)
- Rewarding exercise with junk food
- Overtraining (not giving your muscles a chance to recover)
- Taking steroids
- Lifting weights too quickly or without proper form
- Showing off at the gym (lifting too much weight, etc.)
- Loudly counting out reps (while others nearby are counting quietly)
- Not returning weights to the rack
- Leaving your sweat all over the gym equipment
- Hogging gym equipment (when others are waiting to use it)
- Snacking on the gym floor
- Snacking in the bathroom
- Saying yes to too many things (over-committing yourself)
- Watching too much TV
- Not washing hands after using the bathroom or touching dirty things
- Eating things that fall on the floor (though there are exceptions)
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23 Bad Habits with Money
Some bad habits can get you into a really tight spot with your money (and other people’s). And correcting them can make a world of difference in your financial well-being.
Think of all the things you’ve done and things you still do that make it impossible to stick to a reasonable budget and to live within your means. Then ask yourself what contrary habits you need in order to turn it around.
- Using a credit card for things you don’t need.
- Keeping monthly subscriptions you don’t need or use.
- Stress-shopping or emotional shopping (“consumer therapy”)
- Impulse buying
- Shopping while hungry
- Buying lottery tickets (habitually)
- Spending recklessly on things you don’t need
- Buying coffee, snacks, etc. every day
- Buying more food than you can eat and that ends up going bad.
- Buying gifts last-minute
- Not sticking to a budget (and going deeper into debt)
- Leaving lights on when you leave the room
- Leaving the water running when you’re not using it
- Leaving the heat or AC “on” instead of using “auto.”
- Leaving power-hungry electronics plugged in
- Washing small/partial loads of laundry or dishes
- Staring into the fridge / leaving the door open
- Falling asleep with the TV or stereo on
- Borrowing money and never repaying
- Overspending on things you buy on a regular basis
- Eating out too often
- Spending money on expensive “status” possessions
33 Bad Habits in Communicating with Others
Some bad habits have a direct effect on our relationships and our ability to communicate effectively with others. And the worst bad habits can even destroy important relationships.
The more of these you quit or replace with people-friendly counter-habits, the more effectively you’ll communicate with others. And the easier it will be to make friends and keep them.
- Assuming the worst / judging
- Gossiping or spreading rumors about others
- Stereotyping others (i.e., racism, classism, homophobia, etc.)
- Excessive (or constant) complaining
- Interrupting and talking over others (habitually)
- Finishing other people’s sentences — with assumptions
- Picking fights (being contentious)
- Criticizing others
- Lying (habitually)
- Launching into long, self-centered monologues
- Hijacking conversations
- Rolling your eyes
- Staring at others to intimidate or unnerve them
- Touching others without permission
- Invading others’ personal space
- Blaming others to avoid taking responsibility
- Gaslighting those who disagree with you or call you out
- Talking to yourself around others
- Cracking your knuckles
- Humming to yourself
- Frequently saying “um” and “uh”
- Biting your pen or pencil
- Clicking your pen
- Agreeing with everyone just to keep the peace
- Talking too fast
- Talking too slowly or in a monotone voice
- Wringing your hands or fidgeting during a conversation
- Staring at the floor / avoiding eye contact
- Spacing out and not paying attention to what others are saying
- Making every conversation all about you and your interests
- Checking your phone in the middle of a conversation
- Drumming your fingers or tapping your foot impatiently
- Not returning borrowed items (or money)
19 Bad Habits with Personal Hygiene
Some bad habits repel other people (especially those with a heightened awareness of contagions) so much they may decide to avoid you and even warn others about you. Or they’ll just rant about your “disgusting” habits to anyone who will listen.
Aside from the risk of making yourself and other people sick, some of these habits show neglect of self-care or a lack of self-awareness.
- Picking at or flossing your teeth in public
- Biting your fingernails
- Picking your nose
- Scratching yourself in public
- Going to bed wearing make-up
- Showering or bathing infrequently (neglecting self-care)
- Washing your clothes infrequently
- Leaving your toenail clippings on the bathroom floor
- Leaving hair all over the sink and countertops
- Using someone else’s toothbrush
- Using someone else’s personal hygiene products without asking
- Sneezing without covering your mouth
- Sneezing into your hands and then spreading the germs
- Leaving snotty tissues all over
- Wearing too much cologne or perfume
- Popping pimples in public
- Spitting in public
- Picking at your skin
- Not brushing your teeth
What will you do about your bad habits?
Now that you’ve looked through 136 bad habits to break (not counting the ten most common), which ones stood out as familiar?
And which are you most determined to correct?
It’s okay if you don’t feel compelled to fix all of them. Start with the ones that cause the most problems for you — or for others.
There are longer lists out there, but many of them include habits most would consider normal or at least innocuous — like playing with your hair or using profanity (in moderation).
Let’s focus more on those that can actually do harm, even if only by degrees. We’re not going for perfection, here.
We’re going for a fuller, more beautiful life. May yours grow in beauty and joy as you replace your worst habits with better ones.