Stay focused and make friends with the “shiny object syndrome.” 

I came across the term “shiny object syndrome” for the first time in a post by Ayo, the writer. I loved it. But I also saw myself reflected.

Three weeks ago, it stared back at me again. Life has a way of showing you the path most of the time. You just choose to ignore it.

It was a new article from @BenjiHyam at Grow and Convert. If you’re a marketer, and we all are, check it out. It is fantastic, and it inspired me to write this.

It turns out I’ve suffered from SOS for eons.

Some years ago, I started writing more as a hobby than a job. I wrote articles for a business online magazine, wrote a dreadful script, and kept at it for many years. It didn’t pay much, but I was content.

But I wanted to make money, so I got into sales. When that didn’t make much either, I found art. Then photography. Then cooking. Shiny object after shiny object.

My restaurant was the first activity that I approached as a business. No distraction and no swaying; I plodded along for more than three years. But the numbers told me it wasn’t a feasible business model, no matter how hard I tried.

I folded. 

For a while, I didn’t know what to do. And then my husband pulled out some old articles I had buried in boxes: “Go back to writing.”

I loved the idea but wasn’t sure I could make real money. So I applied for work on job boards and scoured the internet for ways to make a profit. I soon found my first writing client. Then another. I still have a long way to go to have a sustainable business, and keep bumping into distractions. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that they’re part of who I am. 

I’m going to embrace them. Make peace. “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Photo from Kathy Jones

So, whenever I am urged to look into the next book on content strategies, the next best tool that will improve my output, read the latest guru on freelance writing, or take classes on SEO best practices. I say to myself, “Yes, but not right now.” 

If, and only if,  they’re shiny objects that pertain to my craft and can help improve it, then I’m happy to go for it. Devoting some time to them to upskill is necessary as long as it doesn’t mean changing course. SOS is an addiction, and perhaps you can’t help it. So, to make it work for you, instead of against you, give it a second tier in your priorities.

Schedule them so your SOS appetite is taken care of while you are still getting your writing and publishing done.

This is the first step. The second is to stick to it. That, my friend, is the most challenging part. 

My Plan

I discovered that I can insert a file or a link on my calendar to what I want to accomplish with every activity.  I smiled for two days in a row after this amazing breakthrough.

My days are divided like this: writing for 5 hours split into blocks throughout the day, reading, etc. If it’s time to write, I have, for example: in my daily writing time, whatever I’m working on is linked to the activity, so I don’t have to fumble with files, and there’s no excuse to get distracted. The same goes for reading or learning. I link to the course, article, or site I’m working on. I plan my week on Sundays.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich

  • Send your phone and your doggie to the guest room.  My three year-old puppy seems to think it’s playtime when I’m sitting at my desk surrounded by papers. Go figure.
  • Writing and publishing are my top priorities. I get my words out first thing in the morning. It’s the best time for me. Once I have a first draft, I let it marinate for a few hours, then read it out loud and start cutting or adding. I repeat this process three or four more times, take a walk, do something else, and then have another go. I love the Hemingway editor app. It’s a game changer.
  • Veronica-Llorca Smith hosted a webinar on LinkedIn some days ago and brought in Australian life strategist and writer Vicki Bennet as a guest. Vicki works on more than one piece at a time. She devotes 90 minutes to each one, then hops onto another for another 90 minutes. —A good thing for us SOS victims. I’ll add that to my strategy.
  • A time tracker is an excellent resource. I use Focus To-Do, an app based on the Pomodoro technique.
  • Schedule publishing your content so you can forget about it and keep creating more. Choose your posting frequency and show up consistently.
  • Don’t delay getting out there because you want another class about punctuation. Squeeze in time for both, but give writing priority. 
  • Listen to your digital marketing lessons or whichever you have lined up. But only at a specific time.
  • Read for half an hour every day to avoid missing out on anything. But plan what and when. I normally leave this as the last activity of the day. Posts on “How to go from 0 to 3K in one month” should take a fraction of your time. Better still, none at all.
  • I check my emails at the end of the day. Newsletters are sent to a smart mailbox in my account, so I don’t feel pressured to open them.
  • Plan your breaks too. They are as important as the work itself.

Photo from Dziana-Hasanbekava

This is my takeaway from Benji’s post.

Grow & Convert stuck to the Pain Point SEO strategy and bottom-of-the-funnel content for five years. “The reality is, you only need to test something new if there’s something wrong with the current method of doing things.”

And sometimes what is wrong with “the current method of doing things” is that you haven’t been consistent enough.  

Nurture the strategy until it flops, and there is no way to revive it. Let it simmer for a while. Give it a chance. 

Action is the only road to success. Action gives you confidence and helps you believe in yourself. Trust the process and keep walking. Don’t let other schemes distract you.  

Trust the process. Stick to the strategy for a good while.

Be the captain of your ship.

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