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Some mistakes can hurt your online career more than others. Some can even be lethal. Bad work habits are similar to unhealthy lifestyle habits. They can produce insidious effects. 

Just like eating food high in sodium and fats can lead to high blood pressure, poor work ethics can lead to losing your online job. 

Showing bad behavior at work can ruin your prospective online career.

As Lars Sudmann, executive coach and leadership speaker explains: 

“Once these behaviors are noticed by management and team members, it can be really detrimental for your future career outlook, as the trust that you’ll get things done without supervision is gone.” 

That’s why you need to figure out ways to avoid the worst-case scenario.

Below are 4 mistakes that could cost you your online job and how to avoid them.

1. Lacking Discipline 

The worst of all habits, that can cost you your online job, is a lack of discipline. If you’ve never been the poster child of slacking off that’s great!

But if you are continuously cutting corners, you’re putting your online job at stake. 

Struggling with self-discipline is okay, but if you don’t have the intention of ever becoming self-disciplined you’re not a good candidate for an online job. 

This attitude leads straight to failure in the freelancing world. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Practice makes perfect and what you thought far-fetched at one moment doesn’t have to define you. 

Yes, when working remotely, you’re your own boss and it can be a titanic struggle to stay motivated as a freelancer. But how do you become a more disciplined online worker? Read on.

Here’s how to create a work from home routine that works for you and become a more productive remote worker:

  • Create a functional work environment. Declutter your desk and tidy up your workspace. A body of research confirms clearing up your workstation can help you perform better at work.  
  • Learn how to handle distractions. Put off your household chores for later, so you can start your work and stay focused. Turn off notifications on your phone and use online productivity tools to help you stay on task. 
  • Create a work schedule. If you start your day without a plan, you run the risk of not getting anything done. You need to create a schedule and go the distance to complete your tasks.     
  • Take frequent short breaks. Taking breaks can help you mobilize your mental faculties so you can go back to work refocused. 

2. Missing Deadlines

Not respecting your deadlines is a telltale sign of a disengaged worker. If you keep falling behind on your deadlines, your employer will decide they can’t trust to get the work done on time. Don’t be that person.

Getting a task done in due time is a matter of survival in an online work environment. Nobody has money or time to burn. The entire project can suffer if you’re late with your personal input. 

Yet, here’s where your time management skills are put to the test. And no one takes time management lightly – all the more so if you set your own hours. 

Time flies when you work from your computer and it takes hard work to hit the sweet spot. 

Yet, not all is doom and gloom. You can avoid the worst-case scenario of losing your online job due to running late on your assignments. All you need is a little consistency and this is what to do to achieve your goal: 

  • Prioritize your projects to meet deadlines.
  • Set your own – tighter – deadline to ensure a project gets delivered on time.
  • If you see your due date is about to expire, see if it can be postponed.
  • Don’t take on new projects when you’re already in over your head at work. 
  • Don’t drag out a small or easy project, instead, be done with it and proceed to the next. 

3. Overcharging Your Clients

Things can go wrong if you decide to hit your client with an unrealistic fee. It’s an expensive mistake that can cost you your online job. 

And odds are you won’t get the chance to repeat the same mistake again. 

If a manager or a client realizes that something’s fishy, you can lose your reputation. Employers are networking and are likely to keep each other in the loop. You want them to give you a glowing review.

Of course, it’s only natural that you want to be properly compensated for your expertise. You bring value to an employer and behind this value there are hours, days, and months of hard work invested.  

Still, you don’t want to go overboard with your rates either. Choose the middle road and learn how to charge your clients fairly. Demonstrating a good work ethic will bring more work your way, and you’ll be able to get referrals in your online network.

Here are a few points to consider when outlining the payment terms with a potential employer:

  • Be straightforward with your clients. Pitch a reasonable price upfront. One that is likely to satisfy both parties. 
  • Make sure you’re on the same page with your client about the difficulty, time-evaluation, and the value of a given task.  
  • If paid per hour, be aware that clients will typically expect you to do a few extra corrections for the original fee. 

4.Taking a Lazy Approach to Your Online Job

Another mistake that can hurt your online career is showing a lack of enthusiasm for your work. In a rapidly evolving marketplace, you need to rise above the norm, don’t present sloppy work every chance you get. 

And perhaps most importantly, you need to be responsive and coachable. 

“A common mistake or bad habit is not being coachable. If you don’t listen to feedback to get better, you limit yourself. As a result, when the time comes for a promotion discussion, your manager may wonder if you’ll be able to develop further if you’re set in your ways.” Source:

A client will provide you with company protocols and parameters for the project. But you need to do your end of the bargain. You can’t do your job well if you neglect the standard operating procedures and ignore the provided task instructions.

This triggers a domino effect of negative feedback from other team members. Your neglect affects others and is costly to your client. And you’ve guessed it right, this is probably going to be the end of your collaboration.  

Here’s an example of an unsuccessful collaboration shown in a report about bad employee performance.

screenshot of employee feedback convo
Source: Small Revolution Successful Behaviours and Habits Course

To prevent this unfortunate outcome happening to you, make sure to: 

  • Read the instructions as many times as you need to understand the message. 
  • Ask questions only after you already did your research. 
  • Be a proactive worker, seek feedback, and accept constructive criticism.

Avoid Making Mistakes That Can Cost You Your Online Job 

To sum up, repeating the same costly mistakes can not only make your online career short-lived, but it can also make your life miserable. It’s not fun having to set your mistakes right every single day. 

Showing poor work ethics can set off the chain reaction. When your employer sees the poor performance, chances are they’re going to sack you. 

But there’s hope yet. With a bit of determination and realistic goal setting, you can master the responsibilities that come with having a remote career.

Avoid the mistakes listed above and you have nothing to worry about. 

Learn how by signing up for the Small Revolution Successful Behaviors and Habits course. Set yourself up for a successful and productive career as a contributing member of an online team today.

Photo by pressfoto / CC BY


I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of CopySmiths and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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