Advertising
Advertising

10 Habits of Highly Unfocused People

10 Habits of Highly Unfocused People

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Kyle Robbins

Founder, BrandingBeard.com

Why Helping Others Actually Helps Yourself 10 Things You Must Do When You’re Single 11 Types Of Friends You Will Have In Your Lifetime 12 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do Visit a park 31 Things You Can Do Instead Of Spending Money

Trending in Productivity

1 How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work 2 Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress 3 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 4 7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It 5 How to Concentrate and Train Your Brain to Focus Better

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

Advertising

So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

Advertising

    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

    Advertising

    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

    Advertising

    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next