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Common Bad Habits That Are Good for You

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Here's permission to be bad. Below, so-called naughty habits you can embrace:

1. Jonesing for java: Need to get your buzz before school drop-off? New research finds that compared with nondrinkers, people who down half a cup or more of caffeinated coffee daily may reduce their risk of gliomas, the most common type of brain tumors, by 30 percent. Moderate caffeine intake has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

2. Bouncing around: A new study from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis finds that multitasking may actually reduce the risk of job burnout, but only if you like flitting back and forth from one task to another. Don't sweat it if you answer work e-mail while talking to your mom on the phone. Go with your flow!

3. Eating TV dinners: Give up the guilt! Frozen meals are a healthy choice as long as they don't exceed 400 calories, 500 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of total fat, and 5 grams of saturated fat, says Patricia Bannan, R.D., author of Eat Right When Time Is Tight. Prepackaged dinners can support your weight-loss efforts, too—frozen meals are portion-controlled, teaching you what healthy helpings look like. You don't want to subsist on them, but they're a figure-friendly option a few times a week.

4. Putting things off: Yes, it's a negative if you don't sign up your kid for camp in time. But the upside of procrastination is that it allows you to fit in more important things: Wash the bedding tomorrow and you can spend some extra time, ahem, between the sheets today. Sometimes laziness is good.

5. Clinging to low-tech habits: You still scribble on Post-its and hang a Hallmark calendar? S'ok! The tactile act of writing is better than keyboarding at activating the learning and recall parts of the brain. So noting the baseball-awards dinner in a datebook will make it less likely you'll forget.

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