Bright, shiny object

Distractions or Shiny Object Syndrome?

I am a magpie. I am attracted to bright shiny objects.  Those who know me always expect to see something sparkling on me.

I am hopelessly addicted to shiny objects.  And they constantly distract me from getting things done.

Are you familiar with the “Shiny Object Syndrome”.  That’s when you are constantly distracted at every turn by something more fun, shiny or better than what you are currently doing or working on.  It can include other distracting things that are not shiny!

And that new fascination lasts until the next Shiny Object comes along, which could be as soon as 5 minutes later.

I have a million things started and sometimes it seems like NOTHING ever gets done.

Am I the only one?  Please, please, please tell me you know what I mean!

Why Not Give In?

Time is precious and occasionally being distracted is a necessary break from the frantic bombardment we encounter daily.  Yet, most of the time, we need to optimize the precious time we have.

Making the best use of our time is a form of self-care.  When we are productive, we are being respectful of ourselves and our personal resources.

And if we do not respect ourselves and personal resources, how can we expect others to do that?

Completing what we set out to do can bolster our self-esteem, self-respect and self-confidence.  There is a certain charge of excitement and satisfaction with finishing a short-term objective or long-term goal.

But shiny objects and other distractions can pull our attention away from what we want or need to get done.

Technology Can Be A Distraction

Sometimes a new electronic device or app can be a shiny object.

While it may be a productivity enhancer, it can be a huge distraction. Technology distractions are everywhere.  Most recently I found it at the grocery store.

Technology has been creeping into the checkout process for a long time.

I like using the checkout line with a checker; but sometimes, there are too few checkers and the line is too long.

I don’t believe I have ever had an easy peasy start with new technology.  Have you?

Even the last time I got a new phone and they transferred everything for me, I still had some issues.

This time in the grocery story, I wasn’t in a hurry, I wasn’t hungry, and the store wasn’t a mad house.  So, I asked for help with the new technology.  Yes, the start-up was bad enough I asked for help.

And the latest technology start-up was also hard on their staff. They were also learning the “new” system.  I was patient.  I wasn’t snarky. And they got my “new” id so I could use the system.

Once I got through all the steps, I wanted to do a victory dance, take a victory lap around the store.  But, I sedately walked out of the store with my few purchases, mentally dancing all the way to the car.

But it took time.  Hopefully, when I must use it in the future, it will work!

One Diversion After Another

I cannot tell you how many times I have started to do something, I’m in the zone and I get interrupted by something (aka Shiny Object) and then I forget where I left off and waste another 20 minutes or so figuring it out.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Then that next Shiny Object or distraction comes along and off I go.

How do I ever get anything done?

Another Distraction – Starting Another Project

As if I didn’t have enough distractions, I decided, I really, really needed to declutter my office.  I thought I’d just start with a small section and the next think I know, I’ve created a bigger mess – a bigger distraction.

While it might not be a Shiny Object, but that mess is a huge distraction and I can’t think straight! It is an elephant in the room and I can’t ignore it.

How do I ever get anything done?

Multitasking: Yes or No?

I’ve lived squeezing life in between interruptions forever and I finally had to admit, multi-tasking doesn’t work as well as I hoped.  So much time gets wasted putting things down and picking them up later.

There are studies (another Shiny Object) which talk about how multitasking isn’t very efficient and takes more time in the long run.  (Really, I thought I was being so efficient, doing 2 or 3 things at a time).

And of course, the older I get, the more easily I get distracted and forgetful about what I was doing.  All those jokes about forgetfulness have their basis in reality!

I need fewer distractions.  Does any of this sound familiar?

The Cure to Shiny Object Syndrome

Those articles say “focus and finish” is a much more effective means of getting things done.

Hmmm, you mean there might be a cure to the Shiny Object Syndrome?  What?

I keep hearing lots of big name folks saying to set aside dedicated time and then use a timer.

Yes, you do have a timer on your phone – it is an app.  Or, if all else fails, use the old-fashioned kitchen timer!

Set it for 25 or 30 minutes and get into to the task.

Turn off the phone, email and other notifications.

After the 25 or 30 minutes, take a short break.  Get up.  Stretch.  Do a bio break.  Come back and do it again.

After a couple of such intervals, take a longer break (ah, Shinny Objects don’t need to get COMPLETELY retired).

Come back and then see where you are.  Continue working at the task that you need to finish – Get ‘er done!!

And if you need help: ask for it or hire it.

Does It Work??

Well, truth be told, I’ve been trying this off and on all year.  I think I started using the timer with my office decluttering project.

I did get quite a bit done.  Setting a timer for that project helped, but it was too big.  I finally hired someone, Louisa Gravella ( to help me declutter – she was amazing, she broke it down into doable bites, kept me focused to finish the task, and cheered me on while she worked beside me.  What a relief!

Yes, asking for help really does work.

And for the results of using the timer as a cure for my Shiny Object Syndrome?

It wasn’t until my friend Mary Lyn Miller ( ) held a Celebration Event about the middle of the year.  An event designed to celebrate ourselves and the milestones big or small we had accomplished so far this year.

She reminded us, her clients and friends, about the importance of celebrating our accomplishments, sooner than later.

In preparation for that event, I sat down and really looked at what I had accomplish so far this year.

I was STUNNED by how much I had accomplished this year despite my fascination with shiny objects. It was truly a cause for celebration.

While I’m no stranger to celebrating success (see an earlier blog on Celebrate Success, here), I forget, hopelessly lost in Shiny Objects and need to be reminded.  Maybe you too need to be reminded.

But, here I am again, diverted.

My conclusion is YES to using a timer to aid in focusing and finishing.  Try it, you may find it transforms your relationship with shiny object and distractions.

In Closing

While I’m still hesitant to totally give up my fascination with Shiny Objects, there is a solution to minimizing distractions: A timer.  And we carry it with us wherever we go – ON OUR PHONES!

Please tell me I’m not alone.  Are you too distracted by Shiny Objects?  Share a comment or two below on your favorites and how you are dealing with them!

If you are deep it the throes of Shiny Object Syndrome and need to reach out and talk to someone or you need a “rescue call”, feel free to book a complementary call by clicking HERE and we’ll chat.  You are not alone!



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