3 Tricks To Turn The Shiny Object Syndrome To Your Advantage

Jun 4, 2023 | Business & Life Advice, Time Management

There’s nothing new here; you read this everywhere when you’re interested in entrepreneurship. The shiny object syndrome, sometimes abbreviated SOS, is detrimental to productivity. Focus is essential. Execution is everything. Easier said than done, even when using prioritization methods such as a Pareto Analysis or an Eisenhower Matrix

How do you stay focused and execute properly when your head is filled with continuous new ideas? How do you deliver on your projects without having your head continuously in the handlebars?

In a hurry to turn the shiny object syndrome into a productivity advantage? Click here to skip the intro and get straight to the point.

“I feel a bit like a magpie attracted to shiny things.”

Jessica Stockholder

The Risks Of Being Devoted To A Unique Project

Devotion to one project is usually a great strategy to perform and get things done. Having your head in the handlebars to deliver a given project is a strategy that works, at least on a short-term basis.  Over time, the risk is that you may end up being disgusted if you push yourself too much. Too much of something is rarely a good thing, and this is how burnout happens. 
When facing a huge workload or navigating through a long project, the key to staying resilient is making the journey a bit more pleasant, particularly if it’s not impacting too much productivity and helps you keep the momentum of execution. Diversifying projects and tasks can make a massive pipeline of tasks easier to swallow. That’s a way to stay motivated and productive. On the other, splitting attention with many projects is not great either. That’s particularly true when you have the ‘shiny object syndrome.’


What Is The Shiny Object Syndrome?

Shiny object syndrome is a term used to describe how people develop an interest in something but then divert their focus onto another topic.

It usually conveys a negative image: someone jumping from one task/topic to the next is more likely not to complete anything correctly due to a lack of commitment towards any particular subject for long enough.

Shiny Object Syndrome - ParetoAnalysis.Tools

How To Turn The Shiny Object Syndrome Into A Productivity Advantage

The short answer is to take advantage of each “not so bad” downside of the shiny object syndrome. Let’s break down three positive aspects of the shiny object syndrome that may help you to increase your overall efficacy (after factoring in resilience and endurance).

Expand Your Spectrum Of Skills And Knowledge

First, the shiny object syndrome encourages people to seek out new information and ideas. Whether you are an entrepreneur or a driven employee, seeking out further information and exploring trends and ideas is a positive behavior – as long as it stays in control. In short, with a bit of discipline, the shiny object syndrome can be used as a powerful driver to extend your knowledge and expand your horizon. Conversely, if you have a field you need to work on, but you’re not so enthusiastic about it, have a look if this field could be applied in the context of your new idea. The key here is to have the right amount of discipline between expanding your horizon and staying on track. If you lack discipline, explore a few tricks to build discipline here.

Use Your Endless Envy To Start New Things To Counterbalance A Perfectionism Bias

Secondly,  any individual suffering from shiny-object syndrome has endless envy to start new things. This irresistible envy to start something new can be used as a tool to counter interact a perfectionism bias. A few exceptions aside, perfectionism is bad for your business and your wellbeing. So if you’re the kind of person that is always keen to improve things here and there, even if these modifications are not urgent nor essential, leverage your excitement for your latest idea to move on, at least temporarily! Set your current task as “complete” and kick off something new!

Leverage Your Excitement To Get Rid Off Of Tedious Tasks

Thirdly, an individual who suffers from shiny object syndrome may use his/her endless energy and enthusiasm for new things. With the right approach, this boundless enthusiasm to “do something” can be used advantageously to get things done.  Here it’s not about using the 80/20 Rule or the Eisenhower Matrix to know what needs to get done in priority. It’s about applying a cognitive trick to improve your overall productivity, particularly when you have a tedious but essential task that you’re not so excited about. Put differently, while the Eisenhower matrix is essentially a time management tool that prioritizes the most valuable tasks, the method below is a motivation-management strategy to execute more tasks.
When you have great envy to start a task that excites you, it’s due to the dopamine kick you get from that new shiny idea.  To turn the shiny object syndrome to your advantage, surf on this motivation trend and kick off a more critical and urgent task, ideally a not very exciting one.  Use the excitement you have for this “latest idea” first to eliminate an essential but tedious task. Consider this tedious but critical task more urgent than any others.  Consider the “latest idea or project” you want to kick off as a psychological carrot as less urgent.
Since you want to enjoy your time and try this “latest idea” as soon as possible,  completing the tedious task fast will make sense. This is a cold-shower mindset approach to productivity.

Conclusion On The Shiny Object Syndrome

By definition, the shiny object syndrome does not bring along an optimal mindset that maximizes productivity. The shiny object syndrome fosters a tendency to opt for the most straightforward tasks first, as described by Laborit’s Law.

The strategies above bring a fresh and positive perspective on the shiny object syndrome. These productivity tricks can help individuals suffering from the shiny object syndrome make their lives slightly more productive while remaining enjoyable.


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