Shiny object syndrome is a scourge of modern society and a major productivity killer.
Here’s everything you need to know about the causes, effects and how to kick the habit.
What is shiny object syndrome
Even if you’ve never heard of Shiny Object Syndrome, (not an actual medical condition), you’ve probably already got some idea of what it is based purely on the name itself.
If you’ve spent much time around young children, you’ll notice that not many things satisfy them for long. As soon as they get their hands on to the object of their desires, they’re after something else. It’s this constant desire for the “latest and greatest” that characterizes SOS rather than a biological attraction to shiny objects.
While it may just be a pop-cultural psychological concept, it’s real enough to do serious damage to your productivity. In it’s more extreme forms, SOS leads to massive wastage of time, money and energy. Besides our insatiable need for new stuff that we often don’t really need, many modern people living in developed societies also struggle to focus on just a single objective at a time or struggle to see projects through to completion. This is understandable when you consider that we live in a world so packed full of options and stimuli that it’s impossible to ever run out of new things or ideas to get attracted to.
In the rest of this article, we’ll explore some of the most common causes of Shiny Object Syndrome, the effects it can have on your productivity and methods for breaking free from the habit.
Causes of shiny object syndrome
Although the root causes of Shiny Object Syndrome have probably always been ingrained in our psyches, the problem has become particularly pervasive in modern society. Here are some of the reasons why:
- The craving for success
Yes, people have always had ambition, it’s a hallmark of our species. We chase after status success as if they’re the most important things in the world. The dominance of capitalism as an economic system has supercharged our desires for financial success as well. This insatiable need (or perhaps more aptly, greed) is one of the main causes of SOS.
- Fear of falling behind or losing out
In a highly competitive world it’s easy to get left behind or lose out if you don’t keep up with the times. Of course, it’s equally possible that this will be your fate if you spend so much time searching for a leg up on the competition that you forget to focus on the core aspects of success and productivity.
- The belief that newer is always better
Once again, technological advancements and our ability to come up with novel solutions to problems have been a huge driver of humanity’s success. That said, when these things become prized above all else, it’s easy to forget that newer isn’t necessarily always better.
- Short attention spans
If you want to achieve success, however you define that word, maintaining your concentration and seeing things through is absolutely vital. Whether you want to call it ADHD or label it a symptom of fast-paced modern life, the inability to stick to a task until it is successfully completed is one of the primary causes of SOS.
Consequences of shiny object syndrome
While we may all suffer from SOS to some extent, for many people it can be major hindrance. If you regularly experience any of the following issues, it might be time to admit that you need to make a change.
- Inability to finish tasks or see projects through.
- Underdeveloped executions and producing lower-quality work than you know you’re truly capable of.
- Burning through cash and wasting excessive amounts of time on endeavors that ultimately turn out to be fruitless.
- Feeling like you’re juggling too many projects at the same time and thus not giving any of them the attention you’d like to.
- Failing to master new skills or tools because you’re constantly in the beginner phase of learning new ones.
- Never actually achieving any of your core goals because you spend too much time thinking and researching and not enough time doing.
Perhaps you’ve experienced some or all of these things and never really considered that they might be part of a pattern or a larger issue. While Shiny Object Syndrome is a completely made concept (aren’t they all), it can be a useful way to recognize the patterns that are limiting your productivity and curtailing your ability to achieve your goals.
Kicking the habit
Of course, it’s not enough enough to simply identify your SOS tendencies. Ultimately, a diagnosis isn’t much use without a cure or at least some solid advice on how to manage your condition as best you can. Luckily, managing Shiny Object Syndrome is relatively straightforward once you integrate the following ideas into your work and life.
- Take time to consider new projects, ideas and tools before jumping in
Once the initial excitement subsides, you’ll have a clearer idea of whether something new can actually add value or whether it’s more likely to make your life even more complicated.
- Ask people you trust for their opinions
Other people may be able to help you realize when you’re moving too fast and provide you with a more objective perspective.
- Don’t abandon projects on a whim
Before you ditch something because it “isn’t working”, try to do some honest assessment about whether you might actually be better off persevering with it rather than starting something new that will also cost valuable time, energy and resources.
- Learn to see past the hype
Everyone wants to position their products, tools and companies as the next best thing, but how many really are? It’s best to adopt a “wait and see” approach if you’re not sure.
- Improve your signal-to-noise ratio
Reducing distractions is less about discipline than it is about managing the sources of distraction. It’s far easier to remove temptation than to overcome it. Being part of too many groups or subscribing to every newsletter and website that catches your eye will inevitably lead to chasing after so called “shiny objects”. It’s always better to be proactive than reactive. Take the time to decide which sources of information provide real value and opportunities and ditch the ones that don’t.
Increasing productivity with FocusMe
There are so many tools that claim to ADD to your life or business. Of course some really do, but the unfortunate truth is that most are either unnecessary or pure snake oil. What then to make of a tool that claims to REMOVE unwanted distractions and digital noise?
That’s exactly what FocusMe is – the most powerful tool on the available today for people who want to take back their attention and guard against digital distractions. You can learn more about how it works here, or get started right away by clicking the big shiny button below (don’t worry, we’ll still explain everything)!