How To Tackle Four Common Ways You Let Your Focus Slip

We’ve all been there–late, scatterbrained, lacking focus in the day. Here’s how to take on these habits that keep focus out of reach.

How To Tackle Four Common Ways You Let Your Focus Slip
[Image: Flickr user Carmen Jost]

We’ve heard where we need to add to our lives–sleep, time, discipline–but the bad habits in our paths make forming better ones even harder.


Inspired by Life Hack’s“10 habits of highly unfocused people,” these personality traits might sound a little too close to home for all of us.

You struggle with time-management

If you’re perpetually late and scrambling to finish everything at the end of the day, wrangling your time could be sabotaging your flow. No one enjoys being stressed out and underprepared because they’re rushing from one thing to the next; lateness becomes a bad habit that needs conscious breaking.

For everyday time-sucks: Find a browser time management add-on to find out how much time you waste in a workday, then get realistic about how long each task will take.

You don’t see the big picture

One might assume the opposite–that unfocused people are taking in too much information at once, scattered shallowly across too many projects. But focusing on minute details instead of the end-goal can be just as bad; focus on the wrong things lets your deadline sneak up on you, even when you’ve think you’ve given yourself plenty of time.

Having a loose grip on goals also makes it easier to let distractions into your day. With more meaningless task bloating your workday and less time to do them all, quality work stays just out of reach.

You’re bad at organizing

When everything is high priority, nothing is. Not every item on your to-do list should be urgent. Learn to prioritize what needs attention now, and what can wait until later.


Organizing workspaces as well as tasks could make you more focused. It’s debated whether a messy desk is more akin to creativity or chaos, but taking the time to sort your space could at least start your focus fresh.

You can’t make or keep plans

Some people feel like plans are tethers keeping their balloon down. But most of us need a plan to follow, not a free-spirited sense of what’s important and what’s not. Holding ourselves accountable for the day’s responsibilities is the first step–write down the day’s must-dos, keep the list with you, and reflect on what did or didn’t get completed.

Having a plan also makes follow-through more consistent and follow-ups easier to track. You’ll stop saying, “I lost track of things and forgot to get back to you,” when getting back was in the plan all along.

Understanding how parts of the daily plan fit into your bigger goal–and what’s holding you back from the parts you couldn’t cross off–helps with every other bad focus habit.

About the author

Freelance tech, science and culture writer. Find Sam on the Internet: @samleecole.