The Entrepreneur’s Cure for Shiny Object Syndrome

Or How to Work on Multiple Projects and Scratch your Itch

The cure for shiny object syndrome

If you’re like me you enjoy a life rich with new experience. We’re kindred spirits, running from this new thing to that, quenching our heart’s desire to absorb as much new information as possible. I’d much prefer to be good at 100 things versus being a master of one.

We’re renaissance people. We’re multi-passionate.

We’re the ones who innovate and grow. We dig deep. The surface details aren’t good enough. If someone else shows interest in a new topic, we latch onto that person and glean as much information as we can from them.

We research, make notes, and spend long hours learning, practicing, testing, and refining these new concepts. We chase, stumble, fumble, and leap to gobble as much new information as possible.

We’re addicted to content. We’ve got podcasts and audiobooks in our cars and ears. We’ve got stacks of books on our nightstands taller than our capacity to read. Yet, our thirst for new knowledge is unquenchable.

The world needs us.

Without Renaissance people there’s little innovation. There’s no one to ask random trivia questions. And the world of little paper notebooks would be a much smaller industry.

There’s Also a Dark Side

We drop our new projects as frequently as we pick them up. We have trouble sticking to one thing at a time and following the thread to a meaningful level. We chase. We get distracted. We drop. And we pick up something new.

We leave a wake of half-finished projects that consumed many hours of our lives just months earlier. We stack our notes in bins, files, and boxes. And we tend to run fast towards the most recent, shiny object.

We’re wired this way. We can’t help it.

Our thirst for knowledge is insatiable. We observe single-skill experts with awe, but secretly have no interest in being that person. We’d much rather be better-than-average at as many things as possible, versus dedicating our lives to a single purpose (yuck).

Shiny Object Syndrome isn’t a real disease, but it’s just as real as the flu or the plague. Our gift for endless content also comes with its own
kryptonite.

The 2.0 Cure for Shiny Object Syndrome

This is the method I used to stay focused and see a project to completion. I’m able to see many more projects to a useful end, versus dropping the idea too early, in exchange for something new to chase.

I developed a method that allows me to quench my desire to try multiple projects/directions at once, without dropping the project early and wasting all that time on nothing.

You don’t get more time in your life.

So, how to we feed this endless need for knowledge with the importance of allowing a project a deep-enough dive? I developed an easy method I use and it’s helped me see many more projects to completion, allowing me to live a very fulfilled life.

Shiny Object Cure for Renaissance People:

  1. Choose the project- define the task you want to learn/start
  2. Decide the outcome you want, in advance- What level of expertise are you looking for? Is 20 minutes enough? Do you want to become a semi-expert, which might require six months of daily work. Ensure you know the outcome before you start, or you’ll chase the project in too many directions.
  3. Set a timer for 20–45 minutes- deep, focused effort will help you do MORE in less time, versus jumping from project to project all at once.
  4. Work on the single project and nothing more, diving as deep as you can-
  5. Take a 1–5 minute break- Give your brain a rest, so you don’t overheat. You need to be refreshed for the next idea. Get up and walk around. Do some jumping jacks or push-ups. Movement gets the brain into creative mode. Sitting stagnant makes our thinking stagnant.
  6. Jump to the next, high-focus project- Choose your next favorite off the stack. You learn what you need to complete your outcome goal. This helps you stay on track for the outcome you want. If I want to memorize all the US presidents, I’ll make sure I ignore the rabbit hole of vice presidents.
  7. Repeat the process. Go through your list of current interests in 20–45 minute bursts. When you get to the end of the list, start the cycle again.

This is a rendition of the Pomodoro technique, where you focus on a single project in short work bursts. The difference is you can work on multiple projects per day (up to 4–5).

You run the projects through the loop. This both quenches your need to work on multiple projects at a time, and give you dedicated time for laser-focus on one project at a time.

I hope this helps you as much as it’s helped me. I’ve used this method to maintain my current thirst for multiple learning and business areas, without getting too far off track. You can use this method with research, small business, start-ups, studying for school, test-taking, or physical skills (learn to juggle, handstand, and skateboard all in one day, using 20 minute bursts).

Try it. Shiny Objects 2.0 might be for you.

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