In a world with information bombarding us from each and every angle and the daily grind moving at a breakneck pace, it’s hard to stay focused. With so many decisions and so much information to digest at every turn, being unfocused can be a detriment to your personal and professional life. Are you suffering from information overload? Here are 10 habits of highly unfocused people to watch for:

1. They don’t see the forest through the trees.

Many tasks, projects, and independent elements combine to complete projects. Often it seems like you have plenty of time, weeks even, to complete a task. You do what you’re supposed to and dive right in. You work, tirelessly, to complete each task. You make sure every detail is perfect, all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed. But too many times, diving into the details takes the focus off the overall goal and sends you down a rathole from which you can’t recover. Save the optional bonus points until the end, keeping your focus on the goal of completion.

2. They don’t plan.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to stay focused without having a plan to execute. Whether the plan is internal or written down, it’s a vital stage for focused, successful people. Do you struggle making a plan? Start with the basics. Start each day writing down what you need to get done and the steps to get there. Keep that list with you and check off each step as you go. Keep track when you miss your goals and reflect each night on why. When you understand exactly what you need to get done, and hold yourself accountable, you’ll learn what to focus on, which can be half the battle.

3. They lose track of time.

It happens to the best of us. You look at the clock and it’s 5:00, time to leave for the day. But you still have so much to do! Does this sound like a daily occurrence for you? Understanding the time you have available and what you can accomplish in a specific amount of time can be the difference between success and failure. If you struggle keeping track of time, find tools that will help. Understand how long things take and you’ll have a better chance at keeping your internal clock on point.

4. They are easily distracted.

Distractions are everywhere. Some of them are obvious, but others lurk in every cell phone, conversation, and task. Each time focus moves from one task to another, there’s a lag in time to truly focus. The human brain cannot truly multi-task, so attempting to do too much actually hurts productivity. Are you too easily distracted? The best way to improve is to be aware of the problem. Take note of distractions and understand the toll they take on your productivity. Practice makes perfect.

5. They run late.

Are you always running late? Find the reasons and fix them. Are you being honest about how long it takes to get to places? Too many times we have unrealistic ideas about how far we are from places. Make a conscious effort to time how long it takes to get places and take into account outside factors. Do you lose track of time and always have things to finish up that keep your running behind? Don’t start projects you can’t finish before you leave. Find the cause and come up with a plan.

6. They struggle to prioritize.

Do you find that you always have too many things that have to be done immediately? It’s important to understand that not everything you do has the same priority. Make sure you set that expectation and you’ll find that your schedule will open up and you’ll get significantly more accomplished.

7. They wait until the last moment.

Procrastination may breed creativity, but it also can be the downfall of even the best-laid plans. Do you miss deadlines because you run out of time? Take your need for the adrenaline and use it to your advantage. Create your own deadlines for specific aspects of the project and attack those. By splitting up a large project into more manageable chunks and creating deadlines around these, even if you do wait till the last moment, you’ll be more prepared to stay on task and schedule.

8. They are messy or unorganized.

Mess not only clutters up your desk, it can also play havoc on your productivity. Take a hard look at your surroundings and make a conscious effort to keep organized. You’ll have a better chance to stay on track and ensure nothing important gets lost in the mess.

9. They are flaky.

Following though is vital. Skipping out on appointments, canceling at the last minute, and being flaky in general hurts your reputation and can cost you more than you realize. While it’s easy to say “just fulfill your commitments,” there’s another important way to become less flaky. Take the time to fully evaluate and commit to everything you agree to. While for those being stood up see it as a sign of disrespect, it’s often more about planning and commitment. Before taking a meeting, scheduling a dinner, or agreeing to a project, make sure you can and will follow through. You’ll protect your reputation and help stay focused.

10. They worry about everything.

Do you worry about everything? Learn what’s important and focus on that. Anytime you’re taking the focus on what you’re trying to accomplish, it will hurt productivity. Don’t sweat the small stuff and you’ll have more time to hammer the big stuff.

Featured photo credit: Carousel/Jo Dooher via flickr.com

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