The Plight of Shiny Object Syndrome

Let’s face it, distractions are an entrepreneur’s Achille’s Heel. No matter how committed we are to a project, dedicated to an idea, or focused on what is right in front of us – dangle a trend, holiday, or competitor’s brain child in our face and everything comes crashing down.

Plight of Shiny Object Syndrome | Kopf Consulting

Think you are the exception, trust me – you are not. Hey I could be wrong and you are one of the few who can put on blinders and never lose focus. If so, I applaud you; otherwise, while you may not be as EASILY distracted as others – I guarantee you have been the victim of Shiny Object Syndrome.

What is Shiny Object Syndrome?

If you are new to the term, Shiny Object Syndrome is simply having something bright and new draw your attention away from what you are doing. If you need the more drawn out, clinical definition, here you go:

From Wikipedia: Shiny object syndrome pop-cultural, psychological concept where people focus on a new and fashionable idea, regardless of how valuable or helpful it may ultimately be. While at the moment it seems to be something worth focusing one’s attention upon, it is ultimately a distraction, either a personal distraction or something that is done intentionally to distract others. People who face a fear of missing out are especially susceptible, as the distraction of shiny objects in themselves clouds judgment and focus.

The term shiny object syndrome is often used when people mistake something small and focused and fixate on it to the extent that they lose the big picture.

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How Do We Fall Victim to Shiny Object Syndrome?

Again, it is quite easy to succumb to the allure that is Shiny Object Syndrome.

  • You may be listening to a podcast and the host drops an idea you’ve never heard of, creating an excitement that exceeds the joy of what you are currently working on. Why wouldn’t you want to use that energy and momentum on this new brilliant idea? It just makes sense to shift your focus to what is now spinning that creative wheel!
  • It could be a concept presented in a conference and just the sheer delivery from the presenter has you and everyone else in the audience excited, dwarfing anything else that may be on your plate at the moment!
  • Or, it could be something as straightforward as a competitor releasing a new offer or dropping a “humble” bragging on social media, triggering the thirst for competition OR the fear of missing out. This invigorates the need to put what you are doing on hold and focusing on surpassing their success.

Whatever the genesis, Shiny Object Syndrome is one of many distractions that entrepreneurs have to face. It wrecks havoc on your to do list, rains frustration on your support staff, and causes you to rush offers, launches, or new product builds as you are fueled for all the wrong reasons (as sound as your argument may be at the time).

So what can you do about it?

Overcoming Shiny Object Syndrome | Kopf Consulting

First step is accepting that this is something you do! If you are in denial about it, reading ways to resolve it would be a waste of your time. Even if you can accept that it could be a possibility, that is still a step in the right direction.

Next, is understanding that FOMO is not the end of the world. In fact, many are trying to push the idea of JOMO (joy of missing out) – with an emphasis that not every trend/current sensation is gold. As crazy as it sounds, take a moment to actually look at an idea, concept, or fun new thing that has come your way. Put a pin in it for a day or so to see if you still have the same draw to it. This will help minimize the distractions and derailments of your business.

Ok, I Admit It. Now What?


We are who we are so I don’t believe there is any magical cure for Shiny Object Syndrome BUT there are ways to minimize the impact of it.

If you have a team that works with you, you can always delegate the idea to them WHEN they are not working on a current project. Allow them to create a test model or small proposal for your idea and see how it fits into your business. This prevents you from being pulled away but still satisfies that fear of missing out on something.

Remove Time Wasters

How often have you been on social media lately? Come on…be honest.

How much of your day is interrupted by phone calls, meetings, real-time chats, checking emails, looking out the window to see what your neighbor is doing, playing with the dog, etc. It’s one thing to take a break and find a quick distraction, it is another when you find yourself still scrolling through your Instagram feed and/or Facebook feed for a large portion of the day, or spend more time responding to emails than getting actual work done.

Yes, I understand in your mind you have dubbed these actions motivators and inspiration and not time wasters. It isn’t the act itself that is a waste of time, it is how much time you spending doing it versus putting your focus where it needs to be.

If you are an influencer or creator, scrolling through social media may be an essential part of the process but doing it for hours on end is not.

Same with emails – as an entrepreneur, responding to email inquiries, returning calls, conducting client meetings, or taking part in free consultations are how you convert leads but that doesn’t need to happen from sun up to sun down. How else are you going to finish the products you are selling or generate the content to bring in those leads?

Completely shutting these time wasters out of your life is impossible but limiting when they can be accessed is essential.

Take a moment, look at your schedule during the week, and block out time where allotting a few minutes for these tasks does not pull away from work that needs to be done.

Just as important as white space, carving out planning time, meeting times, and other blocks within your day allows you to honor what is on your plate, providing a better system for time management and focus.

Get organized

Last but certainly not least – disorganization is the monster of distraction.

You can’t focus on it if you can’t find it!

Whether it is an inbox overflowing, a desk with papers piled high, wallpapering of post-it notes, or electronic files scattered between cloud storage, usb drives, and your computer; if you find yourself spending more time on a treasure hunt than working, you are not only losing time, you may be getting frustrated – drawing even more focus from where it should be as that disorganization is now causing delays in other areas (client deliverables, preparation for a meeting, timely response to an email, etc).

To eliminate this distraction, find a system that works for you to get organized.

Not sure where to start? Being organized isn’t limited to entrepreneurs! Ask friends and/or family that are where you want to be how they do it.

Determine if the physical elements are necessary

  • Do you need all of the post notes or can this be documented and organized electronically?
  • Do the files need to be on your desk or do you need to grab folders or a filing cabinet to better organize tangible copies.
  • Do you need every single email in your inbox or, depending on what email client you use, can you create labels/subfolders and organize those emails for easy reference and review?

Staying organized is not a one and done task, it is something that takes commitment and should be ongoing within your business. This is why it has the BIGGEST impact. Even if you found a way to redirect your Shiny Object Syndrome and limit your time wasters, if you are sitting in a mountain of chaos, your mind is going to start spinning. Work to be organized inside and out!

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Being an entrepreneur is a fete within itself. Most of us have multiple spinning plates going at any given point in time as our revenue depends solely on us, causing us to grasp for straws to stay on top. No wonder why we get so easily distracted; however, working towards limiting those distractions doesn’t take away from the potential of our success, it increases it.

If you find no matter what, JOMO is not for you, Shiny Object Syndrome is not your problem, and Time Wasters are just an essential part of life, delegation may be the right course of action – allowing the distractions of the world to remain but projects to still move forward with the help of your team.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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