Five Bad Habits to Eliminate in the IB

Five Bad Habits to Eliminate in the IB
With references to the work of Dr Travis Bradberry 

Even the most acclaimed professors, academics and scholars in education possess some bad habits. It is those who can limit or even fully eradicate them from their daily routine who will reap the benefits. According to Dr Bradberry, when we allow bad habits to take over, it dramatically impedes our path to academic success and puts obstacles in the way of our own wellbeing. Breaking bad habits requires self-control—and lots of it. Further research indicates that it’s worth the effort, as self-control has huge implications for success. 

University of Pennsylvania psychologists Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman conducted a study over four years where they found that self-control was twice as important as IQ in earning a high grade point average. The self-control required to develop good habits (and stop bad ones) also serves as the foundation for a strong work ethic and high productivity. Self-control is like a muscle—to build it up you need to exercise it (Bradberry, 2019).

1. Impulsively surfing the Internet. 

According to Bradberry, it takes a human being 15 consecutive minutes of focus before you can fully engage in a task. Once we do, we fall into a euphoric state of increased productivity called flow. Research shows that people in a flow state are five times more productive than they otherwise would be. When you click out of your work because you get an itch to check the news, WeChat or a sports score, this pulls you out of flow. You would have to go through another 15 minutes of continuous focus to re-enter the flow state. 

2. Using negative language in a social setting. 

In times of IB pressure points, it is all so easy to slip into a negative mindset about workload, school policies and protocol. The constant use of negative and emotive language will never help get the work completed. This is especially the case when in a social setting amongst peers. Negative language can halt the progress for good mental wellbeing and, conversely, positive language has the power to move it on. It is imperative that when faced with a challenging period of workload that our students focus on action and solution-based discussions and planning. More importantly, actions are carried through with integrity and purpose.

3. Gossiping. 

High school is a stomping ground for gossip throughout the world but those who do their best to eliminate it from their surroundings blossom with positivity in abundance. Gossipers derive pleasure from other people’s misfortunes. It might be fun to peer into somebody else’s personal or professional faux pas at first, but over time, it gets tiring, makes you feel bad, and hurts other people. There are too many positives out there and too much to learn from interesting people to waste your time talking about the misfortune of others. “Great minds discuss ideas, average ones discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

4. Waiting to act until you know you’ll succeed. 

In terms of school, this is defined as procrastination or perfectionism. Most writers spend countless hours brainstorming their characters and plots, and they even write page after page that they know they’ll never include in their books. They do this because they know that ideas need time to develop. We tend to freeze up when it’s time to get started because we know that our ideas aren’t perfect and that what we produce might not be any good. But how can you ever produce something great if you don’t get started and give your ideas time to evolve? Author Jodi Picoult summarized the importance of avoiding perfectionism perfectly: “You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank one.” 

5. Comparing yourself to other people. 

Some students are compulsive comparers of one another. Although this is human nature, it is not healthy nor is it productive. When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When you feel good about something that you’ve done, don’t allow anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from you. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. (Bradberry, 2019)

By practising self-control, you can simultaneously strengthen your self-control muscle and abolish nasty habits that have the power to bring your academic progress and wellbeing to a grinding halt.


Stephen Hurworth
Head of Key Stage 5