Fatal Distraction. How to Stop Shiny Objects from Derailing Your Focus.


The business world can be a disco dance floor of Shiny Objects spinning you at every turn. By nature, Shiny Objects seem amazing, exciting, and fun, promising to solve all problems and fulfill every dream. Opportunities to transform professionally. Ideas to up your profit margin or the number of email subscribers. Social media channels to bring significant exposure. Tools and processes to save you hours per week.

The list goes on and on and on.

And you spin and spin and spin.

You want do to them all. You think you need to. Or at least you feel compelled to try. What if this one is a game-changer? What if that one is the missing key to a whole new source of income? This is Shiny Object Syndrome, and if you don’t get a grip, you’re gonna keep dancing the herky jerky and that’s not a pretty sight. What you need is a way to figure out which Shiny Objects are the true gems for your business.

A quick, systematic method for cutting through the clutter

Sometimes the glare of the Shiny Object can blind you to its true relevancy to your particular situation. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it will work for you. So your first step is to hold up each Shiny Object, look into its sparkly disco-ball face and ask: Will this Shiny Object add to my business or distract me from it? 

To determine if it's additive: 

  • Will it hold my attention throughout the time it takes to complete related tasks? 
  • Will it bring me more revenue or more brand awareness? 
  • Will it grow my thought leadership? 
  • Will it improve my bottom line? 
  • Will it allow me to be more focused, more peaceful in the day to day, and enjoy more of my personal time?


  • Will it keep me from doing work that’s both immediate and important? 
  • Will I have to get others involved to help me put it into play? 
  • Will it prevent me from making a deadline?
  • Will it add glamour but not much substance? 
  • Will it make my workflow more complicated?

Since all Shiny Objects promise to make a difference in your business, running through these questions will help you determine if that difference will be worth the investment of your resources. You’ll have a better sense if your attraction to a particular Shiny Object stems from FOMO (fear of missing out) or from its true potential. Your objective in this first step is to decide which Shiny Objects are No’s and which ones are Go’s.

Let it go. Let it go! Don’t let it hold you back anymore.

For those Shiny Objects you marked “distractive,” let them go. Let them go peacefully. Ah, now how does that feel? Scary? Sure, it can be a little scary to say no to opportunity. But never fear! There will more Shiny Objects in your future; there always are. But consider: now that you’ve decided the Shiny Object is a no-go, do you feel more spacious? Relieved? Have no regrets.

Proceed with care

With the remaining Shiny Objects, the ones that meet the “additive” criteria, you’ll further sort these into three lists: Now, Later, and Maybe.

For the ones you’re positive will be positive for your business, the question becomes do them now or later? Now concerns current commitments, deadlines, customer experience, organizational fires. Later is about dreams and visions. Now is immediate and concrete. Later is intangible and full of possibilities. Now is conclusive and in that perhaps satisfying. Later is limitless and inspiring. Assign these Shiny Objects to the list where you instinctively feel they go, knowing you can move anything from the Now list to the Later one and vice versa.

But what about those Shiny Objects you’re really aren't sure about? Their potency is undeniable but their outcomes are hard to know. You’re not quite ready to get them up. These go onto your Maybe list.

Having a Maybe list is important to the sorting process because Maybe lets you capture the Shiny Object and its related info but set it all aside. By getting it out of your mind, you’ll calm the urge to keep deliberating on it. Since you’ve not written it off entirely, you can easily go back later and revisit it.

When you do decide to reconsider your Maybe Shiny Objects, run them through the Additive or Distractive criteria. Chances are your business will have changed enough by then (because things are always changing), it’ll be more obvious to which list that Shiny Object belongs.


Shiny Objects are everywhere. There will always be something new and potentially exciting for your business. A new product or service to develop, a new market, a new way of doing things that will save time and money. With this system of evaluating a Shiny Object’s true potential for your particular business, you’ll minimize the constant yank and pull into a million different directions. You’ll be able to stay focused on what really matters in your business. You’ll feel confident that you’re taking advantage of Shiny Objects that will truly move your business along. And even when it seems like everyone else is doing it, you’ll know it’s not something you need to be doing, at least not right now.

Lisa Mullis