Hey there and welcome to episode 245 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to grow that blog, to monetize that blog and hopefully have a good time while you’re doing it. You can learn more about ProBlogger at problogger.com.
Now, today’s podcast is all about something that I know many of us struggle with in this space, it is shiny object syndrome, that time when you’re working away and suddenly you find yourself doing something completely different to what you had set down to do. You’re being distracted by something; it could be a game on your phone, but it also could be something that is good, a new tool, a medium, a new tactic, a new income string.
Whatever it is, it captivates you in that moment, it looms large, it can distract you right where you’re sitting not only for that moment, but it can end up distracting you if you’re anything like me, for a day, for a week, for a month, or for the rest of the year. It has the power to take you away from your core business and to be really distracted, but, and this is what I want to talk about today, I think it can actually be a good thing too. There’s some positives when it comes to shiny object syndrome. I want to explore that a little bit in today’s show. It will be a short one, but I want to put to you that shiny object syndrome is actually something you can—maybe you should plan for, maybe you should actually build into your week.
Hang with me though, before I get into that, I want to just let you know that this episode is brought to you by this year’s Success Incubator event which I’m running with some good friends this coming September on the 24th and 25th in Orlando, Florida. If you are in the U.S. or you feel like a troop out to the U.S., you could actually tackle this onto another conference that’s happening in the days after theme con, this year, we are doing it again.
This is the second time we’ve done Success Incubator. It is a mastermind style event, you get about half the time teaching, and half the time interacting with other people in an intentional way, talking about your business, your blog, and helping each other to improve what you want to build. If that sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend that you grab a ticket sooner than later because we are limiting the numbers this year quite a bit. problogger.com/success will take you there and give you all the details of that event.
The last thing I want to say is that I’m going to do something a little bit new at the end of today’s podcast. I want to share with you a quote of the week and I was just thinking maybe I’ll do this for a few weeks and see what you think about it. I love quotes, I spend a lot of my time being distracted by quotes which is a little bit ironic because that’s what I’m talking about today. I do want to share a quote with you today that I think relates to blogging—not all of the quotes that I share will relate to blogging but hopefully it’s just a moment in this podcast that will give you a little bit of encouragement as you go about your business. So stay tuned to the end and I will share that quote with you. Lastly, problogger.com/podcast/245 is where you’ll find today’s show notes and a full transcript of the show. Let’s get into it.
Okay, today’s topic was suggested by one of our Facebook group members, JR Caparas I think it is, thank you for your question. “How do you focus and avoid shiny object syndrome in blogging?” JR asks, and then it goes on to talking about the topics, niches, blogging, books, courses, blogging tasks, possible sources of income as examples of those shiny objects. Here’s what I want to say to you, JR, I actually think that shiny object syndrome can be a good thing, and I would encourage you not to avoid it but to put it in its place.
Those of you who have been listening for a while know that I’m a big believer in putting boundaries around what we do, all of the things that we do, to actually put things in their place. Here’s the argument that I want to make for shiny object syndrome, is that sometimes, the shiny objects can actually give us energy, they can spark new ideas, they can help us discover new ways of engaging with our audience and they can actually help us to find white space in our minds and are able to rest a little bit.
The distractions can actually be good things in a variety of ways for us personally, but also for our business and for our blogs. I’ve discovered this many times over the years, that it is sometimes in the distractions that I get my next good idea. Sometimes, it is listening to a podcast that has got nothing to do with blogging that I actually get the best idea for blogging. Sometimes, it is in playing with a new social network that’s just emerging, a shiny object that really isn’t benefiting my blog in the present. Sometimes, I get ideas from that, sometimes I discover something that I can then translate into my business.
What I want to encourage you to do is to think about not avoiding it, not eliminating it, but to actually make time for it and put boundaries around that. The key is not to allow your business, your time, your life to be hijacked by the shiny object.
The problem I see—and I’m sure this is what JR is alluding to—is that many times we get completely sidetracked by the shiny objects, by the new medium, by that new tool, by that new platform, all the topics, all the techniques, all the gears, all the conferences, all the books, all the courses, all the income strength. Sometimes these things actually completely sidetrack us and stop our core business and activities that we need to do to build our blog.
What I want to encourage you to do is to think about your time and your schedule and actually schedule your week out as much as possible. This is something I’ve talked about, I think it was back in episode 40, for the first time and then more recently in episode 163. In both of those episodes, I showed you my weekly template.
This is something I designed for my week. I actually got a calendar—a Google calendar—and I blocked out time for different activities. A lot of those activities were to do with my core business. A lot of them went to creating new content, brainstorming ideas, connecting with my team, doing administrative tasks like replying to emails, moderating comments, interacting in my Facebook group, these are the things that I know are so important. If you’re going to look at my template, you’ll see that probably 95% of my time, maybe 90% of my time, is on these core things that I know I need to do to build my business. That’s particularly between 9:00 and 5:00. But you will also sit down Monday afternoons if you’re going to look at episodes 163. You’ll see on Monday afternoons, I have time for play and that is a time where I have scheduled shiny objects.
That is a time I do not plan what I’m going to do, I simply sit down on a Monday afternoon and I say, what do I want to do now? What have I been putting off this week to play with? What am I curious about? What new tool? Sometimes it’s a tool, sometimes it’s a book that I’ve had sitting next to my bed, sometimes I go and curl up in my bed and have a read. Sometimes it’s an episode on Netflix that I’ve been thinking about, sometimes it’s a podcast, sometimes it’s exercise, sometimes it’s playing with my kids, sometimes it’s a new app on my phone or a game that I want to play with. These shiny objects, I actually acknowledge them and I set aside time to do them and to pay attention to them.
Sometimes, it’s a very productive time and sometimes it’s a completely unproductive time but I’ve put shiny objects in their place. What I’ve discovered is that I actually begin to look forward to Monday afternoons, it’s a time that I relax, it’s a time that I enjoy, a time that I see almost as a reward for the hard work of the rest of my schedule. Put aside best of time for shiny objects.
Now, you might choose to do that on a Monday afternoon, once a week, or you may choose to do that every afternoon at 3:30 just before your kids get home from school or after you’ve written a blog post, you may give yourself a boost of 15 minutes and you may want to schedule it in that way. Put aside time for it, and what you might find is that it will give you energy, it will spark new ideas, it will help you to discover new techniques in what you’re going to do. Some of it will actually then become not just a shiny object but it can actually become the thing that you do, your next big thing in some way. This is again something that I’ve talked about before that your next big thing sometimes will start as a little spark of an idea or something that you experiment with.
I can think about many times where this has happened for me. This podcast really started as a shiny object for me. This podcast was something that I had felt that I wanted to do, something that was making me curious, it was something that I’ve been wondering about for many years and I decided to do. But, I decided to do it with boundaries around it.
I actually started this podcast for a month. I said to myself I’m going to do a month of content. I’m going to do this first series of this podcast. A part of me there was really limiting myself to just that one month because I didn’t want to become distracted for all time by it, I wanted to see whether ego meet energies and whether it was something that I enjoyed, but I also wanted to watch to see what happened as I follow that spark of curiosity.
What I found is that the podcast did give me energy. It was actually something that I enjoyed incredibly but I also realized that in doing it, experimenting with it, was that other people were getting energy with it too.
This is the second thing that I encourage you to do as you think about these times where you allow yourself to be distracted, where you allow yourself to be following your curiosities is to pay attention to whether those things give you energy but also as you experiment particularly with the things and to do with your blog, watch to see what happens as a result of those things.
If the podcast had given me incredible amounts of energy but no one ever listened to it, I would probably have to ask some tough questions about that. Is this something that is going to bring life to my business in the long-term if no one is listening to it? You want to be finding things that allow you to feel like you’ve come alive, but also things that give other people energy as well. That’s my advice for you, JR, yes, you want to limit your shiny object syndrome but actually find a place for it. Find a place for that because you may just find that in those moments where you follow those curiosities, that new things will emerge from those.
I would love to hear your reflections on this podcast and I would particularly love to hear those moments where you have found the shiny object that has distracted you in a good way that has led to something powerful. After they hear people talking about productivity, eliminate distractions. I would love to hear some examples of people who have been distracted by something but have actually found some goodness in those distractions as well. You can let us know what those things are either on the comments of the show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/245, or head on over to our Facebook group, just search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook.
Now onto my quote of the day, and it just so happens I didn’t actually plan it this way but as I’m thinking about the quote that I have selected for today, it actually connects with the topic of today, it was meant to be, I might say. The quote is from a man called Howard Washington Thurman who is an author, philosopher, theologian, educator, civil rights leader—I just read that off Wikipedia. I don’t really know a lot about him, but I love this quote, it’s one that has resonated with me for years now and it came back to my attention today as I was listening to a podcast.
This is what he wrote or spoke, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I think this does resonate with today’s show. You do sometimes need to be mindful of the things that make you come alive. Sometimes those things start as shiny objects, things that might even be distracting you and if you don’t allow yourself to follow those curiosities, you might not actually discover what it is that is alive within you.
Let me just read that again, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I guess the last thing I’ll say about this is that it does particularly right to those of you who at the beginning of your journey of blogging have maybe been wondering what should I blog about?
Choosing a niche, I do think it’s important to pay attention to what brings you alive, what gives you energy because you are going to be at this for a long time and you might as well enjoy what you’re doing, you might as well feel alive by what you are doing, but the value of it is that if you come alive with your topic, your readers, the listeners of your podcast, the viewers of your video are going to feel that you are alive with your topic and that’s going to resonate with him on a deeper level, and it’s going to make them feel more alive as well.
What the world needs is people who are alive, and particularly in the times that we live in today, we do live in a time where it’s very easy to feel like it’s a dark time but what the world actually needs is people who will brush on a little light and they do that by being excited or passionate about what they’re on about.
Thanks for listening. I would love to hear any quotes that you’ve got that bring you a bit of life again. Feel free to share them in today’s show notes or over in our Facebook group as well. I might just feature a couple of yours in the future as well.
Thanks for listening, I hope that you have a great week of being a little bit distracted at times, but also paying attention to 90% of that time to your core tasks as well. Don’t go too far with the shiny objects. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.