As a Success Coach, I’m pretty good at maintaining my focus, avoiding distractions, working out what my goal is and working towards it without going down too many rabbit warrens along the way. It doesn’t mean though that I don’t get caught up in the circle of ‘Bright Shiny Object’ syndrome!
Take today for example. I thought I’d head down to McDonalds to grab a coffee and write my blog post. I took my pen and notebook, my iPad, phone and headphones for music and off I went thinking I’d fly through what I needed to do and be of there in no time. Now, I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d sat in a McDonalds store having a coffee, but I figured it would be like any other café and I’d go to and would suit me just fine.
I arrived and ordered my coffee, took a seat and pulled out all I needed to start work. What I didn’t count on was music blaring so loudly that I had to nearly deafen myself with my earphones to drown it out (I’m not one of those people who can concentrate if there’s lyrics to the music as I’ll just start singing along in my head!) There’s a TV to my left showing the news updates with subtitles so I can look up at any moment and read what’s going on, there’s the constant banging of the barista emptying the coffee from the filter handle and then calling out the name of the person who’s order is ready for collection and there’s the window washer who is methodically moving around each window wiping on and wiping off (which was surprisingly relaxing to watch!)
So much for being able to clear my mind from distractions and pump out a blog post or two. I thought about packing up and going somewhere quieter, but decided it would probably take me as long to do that as it would for me to acclimatise to my distracting surroundings, so I put my head down and got started.
Chasing the shiny object can be a common problem for so many people and that can include distractions in the background – TVs, window washers etc, or it can be one of the many browser tabs you have open, too many projects on the go at one time switching between them all. It could be that you’ve signed up for several training programs and you’re training to do a little in all of them, or maybe you’re constantly coming up with new ideas for your business and trying to act on them all. Bright shiny object syndrome is common for many entrepreneurs as you constantly see opportunity everywhere, but if you’re not careful about how much you follow the shiny object, you’re likely to feel exhausted, frustrated and burnt out from continually working at high capacity without delivering any key results.
So how can you stop watching the window washer and get focussed on what you need to do?
1 – Power of Decision
The first step to getting any real work done and delivering key results is to decide what you really want, what your goal is and where you need to focus your time and attention and this will help you stay away from distractions. Today, my focus was to produce blog posts. I didn’t go down to good old McDonalds with a vague idea of getting some work done, I knew I wanted to produce 2 blog posts. One of the biggest things that stops you from producing, is not knowing where to start, and this is usually from too many choices. Narrow down your choices and decide what you’re focussing one and you’ll make huge improvements in your output.
2 – Get Started
Sounds simple doesn’t it, but taking the first steps can be the hardest and is often when we look for the most distractions. Determine when you want to finish, what you need to accomplish and when you will start. It’s more difficult to determine when it’s a whole project you’re working on, but try creating a plan working backwards from when you need to have the project finished by and each step you’ll need to take to get you there and you’ll soon end up with your started date and your first step to take.
For simple tasks, you just need to know how much time you have and what you want to achieve in that time. For me this morning I had allocated 2 hours to get 2 blog posts written.
3 – Persistence
It’s the part in the middle of a project that can get hard for sufferers of Bright Shiny Object Syndrome and start looking for distractions as you get bored in the middle, attention starts to drop, and you start looking for the next exciting thing you can begin. Using persistence though, keep writing out your top focus points for the day or week and commit to acting on them. Remind yourself of your end goal and why it’s important to you.
There’s quite a few productivity tips you can try – it’s just a matter of working out what which ones work best for you. I’m a huge fan of batching and setting an allocated amount of time for each batch i.e. 2 hours for 2 blog posts, and this helps keep the boredom and distractions at bay. If I find my mind starts drifting, I just reminder myself I’ve only got 45 minutes left to work on this task and it gets me working faster and I pump out the work. This technique also helps me as I work more productively when I’m working to a deadline.
Other people I know swear by the Pomodoro Technique where you set a timer for 25 minutes of solid work followed by a 5 minute break and then another 25 minute block of work, so it really is just a matter of finding what suits your style best.
4 – Celebrate
Remember to celebrate your success! Whether it’s the end of a project, the end of task number 1 or whether it’s because you started on something you’d been procrastinating about for ages, whatever the achievement is, just be sure to celebrate your successes and remember that you and what you have achieved is awesome! Too often entrepreneurs are quick to tick items off their task list and move onto the next project without taking the time to reflect and realise what great work they’ve done, and it really does make a difference when you look back for a moment to see the great achievements you’ve already had.
How do you work best? If you have any other tips for staying away from the bright shiny object, share them with us in the comments below,