Bright shiny object syndrome (also just called shiny object syndrome) is a real thing. Very real. Even if it is not in they psychology books (yet — give it time). Anyone who works online knows that it is real. Anyone that has attention problems (including but not limited to people with ADHD).
The Personal Excellence blog defines it as:
It is the tendency for someone to chase something new, be it a new business idea, tool, or goal, rather than to stay focused on what they’re doing.
And for many of us, it is a part of our every day lives.
How It Affects Me
It’s not just about work. Although it is about work. Maybe if I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t find myself so constricted in the kind of work I’m able to do. It does limit me sometimes. Most of the time.
Ok, we’ll get into it in a bit. Here’s a list of the ways that bright shiny object syndrome affects me:
- Long-term goals are crazy hard to reach.
- If I think too far in the future I panic (like tomorrow).
- I have a lot of projects
- They are mostly unfinished
- I buy a lot of courses and start them and never finish them
- I get great ideas that never come to fruition
- People think I’m lazy.
- I think I’m lazy
- Facebook is always open
- I need to put my thoughts out there or I lose them (which is why Facebook is always open).
- I need to do something when my fingers aren’t moving on the keyboard (which is why I drink a lot of coffee/water — if I’m not reaching for something I get up from the keyboard and Lord only knows what will distract me then).
- New ideas are always better
This is just a short list. Should I go on? No, I’ve lost interest in the list. But I think you get the idea right?
Relationships Are Affected
Because I live 10 miles from town and I don’t really like being around people all the time (because it is super difficult for me to focus on more than one person at a time), a lot of my relationships are maintained through my phone — chat, text, social media, etc.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t still get distracted.
That meme above? It is funny as hell. But only because it is too true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve answered a message or even a phone call in my head and got distracted before I actually answered it and later, truly believed that I actually answered it. Meanwhile, days have gone by and you, my dear friend that I really do appreciate, think that I’m ignoring you because I never responded to your last message.
I try really hard not to do that. But it happens. Likely even more than I think.
The other thing is that I find it really hard to maintain a conversation. I really do want to hear all about your ex and the douchy things they are doing and how much you hate him. I do. And I do care. But my brain often won’t let me focus for that long. And while you’re talking, I got a great idea for a new book (because you inspired me probably) or thought of a new way to monetize my blog or a new way to get people to my Patreon account. And I really want to tell you about it. But you’re not done talking so I try to focus on what you’re saying. But my brain is somewhere else already.
I’m sorry about that. I am. I’m working on it, I promise.
My Online Work Is All Over The Place
I know that key to being successful with any online business is consistency. Which means that anyone smart would pick one or two things to do and do the hell out of them. Be consistent. Put in the time. Give it your all.
Ya, I tried that. It kills me. Like literally makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Only one or two things. Booooorrrrrrinnnggg!
I need to have several things going at once. And I need my pace on each project to be a little slower. Because I only have limited time to work on stuff each day.
There have been times when I had so many projects going on that I completely forget about half of them. I used to own more than 50 domains! And I had content on all of them. The sites were rarely “finished” though and most often, they were neglected with weeks or months going before they were updated. So were any of them really successful? Not most.
Currently I am working on:
- books under my real name
- books under a pen name
- this Medium account
- a second Medium account
- my personal blog
- another blog for one of my pen names
- a social media course
- a romance writer’s course
- building up my freelance writing business again
- a Patreon account for my real name
- a Patreon account for my pen name
How much is getting done on each? Not enough to be successful at making a lot of money online. That’s how much.
I Am Trying To Change This All Though!
I know that if I ever want to be able to work from home and be location independent I need to get some focus. I have to.
One of the things I am doing is trying to take care of my brain via diet. I’m on the keto diet (which eliminates sugar and carbs and preservatives and other food things that really mess with the way your mind works). I’m doing Bulletproof Coffee with MCT oil (which has been shown to possibly be helpful for people with ADHD so I figure it could likely be helpful for me) each morning (which reminds me that I forgot to make some today because it is my day off). I’ve been doing some reading and it seems like diet can really affect how your brain works.
I’m making lists. Lord, I am making so many lists! But I am actually using them now. Or trying really hard to.
Writing things down helps me remember them. So, the first thing I have to do is write it down. That in itself can be a challenge.
(Note to self: focus on finishing the damn article — no more Young Sheldon videos on Facebook!)
Honestly though, the lists help. Even when they aren’t right in front of me. But they help more when I do write them down and have them right beside me while I’m working. Then I just have to look at the list when I get distracted and I remember that I have other things to do but I have to finish what I’m working on first before I can move on to the next thing.
Also, lists inspire me because I like checking things off. There’s rarely a day when I get everything done. Because I put a lot of things on my lists. But because I like checking things off and it makes me feel productive to do it, I write down things like, get up, brush teeth, have a shower, eat, make the bed, call mom, go for coffee, etc. Because I’m pretty sure I’m going to do those things regardless of what else is on that list. And when I see that things are getting done — even if they are things normal people don’t have to write down — I feel more productive and it inspires me to get more done.
Finally, the last thing I’m doing to avoid the whole bright shiny object syndrome from taking over my life is trying to implement a routine in my life. I see people do this all the time. They get up at the same time every day. They have lunch at the same time. They make dinner at the same time. They even go to bed at the same time. I don’t know how they do it!
And it is hard to do for people that don’t work the same hours each day. I’m a waitress. I am lucky too be working only days. But some days I work at 6 am. Other days at 8 am. And yet other days at 11 am. That means a true schedule is pretty much impossible.
So, I improvised. I have a schedule for each type of day I work. I have a schedule for when I start at 6 am, 8 am, 11 am, and one for days off. The schedules exist. On paper even. I haven’t managed to stick to it yet though. But I am working on it?
Who Else Is Chasing The Pretty Squirrels?
I know I am not the only one out there. Especially among people who work online. I think that is part of the reason why the whole working online thing appeals to us. Because focus at a “real” job is pretty important. I know it is why waitressing is the only “real” job that has ever worked for me. When I’m serving tables, I have a lot to remember. But I only have to remember them for a few minutes and then they are done and I’m on to a new list of things I have to remember…for a few minutes anyway. Do I need to stay focused on creating that new spreadsheet to meet my 5 pm deadline. Nope. By the time my day is done, I’ve done a million things. Can’t remember what they were but the majority of them got done!
Anyway, I’d love to hear how others with bright shiny object syndrome get things done in their day. Leave me a comment please and share?