Always switching between business tasks? Finding it hard to stay focused? Getting distracted by new technology? Endlessly searching online? Losing hours of time on social media? You may be suffering from Shiny Object Syndrome or SOS. Having occasionally suffered from this syndrome myself, I can assure you that it can lead to: 1. Frustration, because you are not getting your critical tasks done, 2. Overwhelm, as the tasks on your to-do list increase, and 3. Shutdown, because you feel defeated since you could never get all of that done anyway.

You know that as an entrepreneur, it is important to stay focused on the activities that will bring in the money. It also is important to include activities that will help you build for the future. But then, how tempting is it to try out that new technology tool or the latest social media platform? Your train of thought just derailed. #fail

I would like to point out some things to watch out for. When you find yourself thinking, “That looks really cool!” or “You know, I could maybe just take a quick look at…” you will know to pull yourself back from the edge. You are at a greater risk for SOS when:

• You are new in your business and throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks
• You are unclear on the priorities for your business
• You are unclear on the strategy for your business
• You have activities on your to-do list that you really don’t want to do
• You are not getting away from your business and recharging

I am not saying that you shouldn’t brainstorm or think creatively. And I am definitely not suggesting that you stop taking “study breaks.” Far from it! Many great ideas will come to you when you are unfocused – in the shower, exercising, or doing something that has absolutely nothing to do with your business.

What I am talking about is spending too much time on things that may not be important for your business right now – or maybe ever. What I am talking about is SOS as an avoidance behavior.

Here are some things you might try to pull yourself back:

• Review your to-do list and pick an easy thing that you can complete and check off.
• Ask yourself if this is a need-to-have or nice-to-have software package, social media profile, WordPress plug-in, etc. If it’s only nice and not needed, block out time in your calendar to play with it at a later date.
• Consider taking a timed break for a walk or cup of coffee or tea.
• Make that dreaded phone call or other task and get it off your plate!
• View all of your activities through the lens of your business or marketing plan. If it isn’t in the plan, it has to wait.

Deep down, you know when you have SOS. Now you know what some of the triggers can be. And now, you can stop before you waste the whole afternoon (or morning)!

What are the tasks or activities that lead you astray from what you need to be doing? Did I miss some key warning signs? How do you pull yourself back? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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