Do You Have Shiny Object Syndrome?

Do You Have Shiny Object Syndrome?
The bird of justice will peck your eyes out if you take on one more project!

If there’s one thing that I can certainly testify that I’ve struggled with over the years it’s my ability to concentrate on just one project at a time.

I’m guilty of starting and not finishing more projects than you could poke a stick at.

The thing is I’m not alone in this… go on, admit it, we all have folders on our hard drives of projects that were started and never finished.

They might have been just waiting for that extra bit of motivation for you to get moving on it, or maybe there’s plans to get back to it “someday”, but that day never comes.

It’s not your fault though, concentration is the number one thing that web entrepreneurs (and entrepreneurs in general perhaps?) struggle with the most.

What Is Shiny Object Syndrome

In the past, it’s been all too easy for me to flitter about from one marvellous project to another.

Something always comes up or catches my eye, like I’m a frigging magpie or something. Some little idea will pop into my head and all of a sudden it’s turned into a full blown project that takes me away from more important things.

Shiny Object Syndrome is a real problem for web entrepreneurs especially because someone is always trying to sell the “next magic bullet” system that will lead to riches.

It’s the primary reason why I don’t go anywhere near the Warrior Forum anymore. Not to say that that is all you’ll find on there, but the temptation to get sucked into every little WSO is too great for me to resist.

Conquering The Problem

So how do you conquer Shiny Object Syndrome?

I found that it was like an addiction, an addiction to information consumption.

My method of choice to get over it was three fold:

  1. To start reflecting on which projects on my plate were really important to me and were delivering the results that I want
  2. To execute on those projects until they started delivering
  3. Learn how to identify when I’m getting distracted by an idea and accept that I can’t chase everything


I now conduct a reflection session in my business every couple of months (ideally monthly).

In this session I review all the internal projects that I’m doing and adjust my focus if things aren’t proceeding as I’d expect.

It’s also a great time to identify opportunities in the ideas I’ve had over the month and setup new projects in a more structured way than just chasing them at the time the idea occurs. More on this in a minute… read on.


Once the path is set for another month it’s all about execution.

Plans, task lists, and reminders are the tools to get things done once you’ve decided on a course correction.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of actually taking an idea from conception, through to planning then finally execution.

Identifying and Accepting

This last point is the most important for overcoming Shiny Object Syndrome.

It’s all about identifying when you’re having an idea and devising a way to accept that you can’t chase it, not right now anyway.

For me the best system for getting through this is to keep an idea journal. It’s as simple as a notebook that sits on the end of my desk that’s always ready for me to write in.

Sometimes I can have a dozen ideas in a day and other times there’s nothing to write in there for a week. But there’s always more ideas than I could have handled if I were to just start chasing them.

This method will probably be pretty confronting if you’ve never done it before. Firstly, because it’s hard at first to accept that you’re writing down an idea and not looking into it more deeply right then and there, and secondly because of the sheer volume.

After my first week of doing this I found it amazing how many ideas I had that could have been potential distractions.

It Is Defeat-able

Shiny Object Syndrome is defeat-able and once you do defeat it, you’ll feel pretty damn empowered.

If this is happening to you, then it stops right here.

Get a system, get disciplined, and you and your business will be all the more better for it.

Josh Kohlbach

Josh is a software entrepreneur from Brisbane, Australia. He spends most of his time helping e-commerce store owners. This is his personal blog where he shares his thoughts and other tidbits on online business and life in general.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Abhi

    Hey mate,

    I was going to SOS because of my SOS problem! But your post helped me avoid the crisis and has brought me back on track (hopefully!) (o:

    Really good suggestion on always keeping a notebook handy! I’m getting myself one to jot down the crazy ideas I get ever so often.

    BTW, you have a really nice blog. I stumbled upon your website recently, and I’m really enjoying reading your articles and finding your advice very helpful in giving my freelance career a boost.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Thanks for the kind words Abhi, really appreciate it and glad to have you on board.

  2. Kwad

    Nice article.

    I have a number of projects “in the pipeline”. I need to stop procrastinating, keep an ideas book and focus.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      You’ll be surprised how quick the ideas add up. What is really good is the looking back part, you begin to realise how much mind space these things take up.

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