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How to Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome: Easy Steps To Productivity

Rene Morozowich

This week I am happy to share a guest post from Rene Morozowich. Rene is a Pittsburgh-based WordPress developer who loves a good plan, a cup of tea and an afternoon nap. Read more about Rene here.

You’re scrolling through Twitter, catching up on Slack or browsing through your emails when you see it. Something new. Something promising. Something that will revolutionize your business, your process, your life. You have to investigate it. Right. Now.

Before you know it, your entire afternoon is gone and you don’t have anything to show for it. You’ve succumbed to shiny object syndrome again.

Instead of falling down the rabbit hole checking out the newest and shiniest object, try this:

  • Quickly add the shiny object to your “to investigate” list. Your list could live in a Google doc, a Trello card or as a note on your phone, but it should be easy to access. Once the shiny object is on the list, return to your previously scheduled programming.
  • Schedule time to look through the list later in the day or week, namely during a time when you’re not usually very productive anyway (the 2:00 slump or Friday afternoon). When the time comes, peruse the list.

You may find that by the time you return to the item on the list, you’re not actually interested in it anymore. It’s not quite as shiny. Great! Remove it from the list.

If you’re still interested, try to think about whether the real current or future you will actually use this shiny object. Not the ideal version of you that you think you might be someday -- the real you. I might find an amazing article on gear for hiking the AT, but I am not currently, soon or ever planning on hiking the AT. My time is better spent investigating things that will add value to the real current me or the real future me. If the shiny object isn’t for the real you, remove it from the list.

You’re still interested and the shiny object applies to the real you. Awesome. Now ask yourself if this shiny thing will complicate your life. If you already have a CRM that you love and you weren’t looking for another one, stop looking! Keep it simple. Remove the shiny object from the list.

shiny stars

Photo-by-rawpixel-on-Unsplash

If the shiny thing still looks shiny and it relates to your current goals, schedule time to dive in after you work on your current tactics for the week. Like Tara, I’m a fan of The 12 Week Year. Every 12 weeks, I set three main goals and corresponding weekly tactics to accomplish those goals. In any given week, if I get all of my tactics accomplished, I start working on something new. Do the same – add the shiny object to your list after you finish your current tactics for the week.

If the shiny object doesn’t relate to your current goals, but you still want to pursue it, add it to the “next time” list. When you’re ready to work on your goals for the next 12 week year, look at this list first. If the shiny object is still relevant, work it in to your plan.

Now let’s quickly address how to stop finding so many shiny objects to begin with!

Take time once a week to:

  • Unsubscribe from the emails and the newsletters that don’t bring you value
  • Unfollow or ditch social media that you don’t love
  • Set a timer (yes, a physical timer) for the social media that you do love
  • Step away from the computer and go outside

Get rid of the noise. Only let in what you love and get value form. Be intentional with your time and attention and pretty soon, you’ll have conquered shiny object syndrome for good.

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