Shiny Object Syndrome: How to Get Over Your Content Addiction
One of the easiest traps small business owners, entrepreneurs and bloggers can fall into when starting or maintaining a blog (or a business for that matter) is excessive content consumption.
Note the word “excessive.”
It can become such a hindrance, especially if you blog and run a business at the same time (or if your blog is your business).
As a blogger, I know how tempting it is to read and read (and read) blogs. Sometimes, it’s as if your finger is possessed by a link-clicking, ebook-downloading demon.
But those links and freebies, they’re just so shiny, aren’t they?
The Shiny Object Syndrome (and what it means for small business owners)
Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) is the bane of a content creator’s existence.
(And before you say you’re not a content creator but a business owner, you’re kidding yourself. You are, in one way or another, responsible for what goes up in your blog and other social media platforms you use.)
Back to SOS. It’s when you chase after every new, trending object, idea and/or opportunity that you veer off from your core goals.
I call it a trap because you never really know you already have a problem until you’re drowning in so much content you’re speaking in how-to headlines and memes.
Let’s take a look at the usual signs of excessive content consumption:
- Your first task in the morning is to check your email and click away.
- You browse and read numerous blogs for hours on end.
- You download tons of free ebooks and buy a few more but never really get around to reading them all.
- You sign up to newsletters from all over the place almost on autopilot.
- Your inbox is cluttered.
- You update your blog less and less. Your reason: “I haven’t read/research/watched enough videos yet.”
Ok, if you’re nodding your head with every bullet point, congratulations!
The first part of recovery is admitting you have problem.
But why does it happen, anyway?
Why can’t you just stop the consumption and “ohh-ing” about every new concept that you come across? Why is it such a labor to just act on what you’ve learn like you should?
When you want to learn about something new, you naturally go to the people who already been there. These people are already successful and are recognized experts. They have great-looking websites, viral posts, and they make more money than you do.
You then begin to pattern yourself after them. You create this ideal vision, based on your favorite people, on how your own work should be. This is actually helpful, especially when you’re just starting out. But what most of us fail to realize is that our circumstances are different from the already successful bloggers we know and love.
The ideal vision traps you as much as your consumption does. You come up with excuses on why you can’t start on your own just yet.
- I need money for a website like Mr. Awesome’s.
- I still don’t know how to make great headlines. I’ll have to reread Ms. Fantastic’s ebook again… and buy the next one!
- I’m not confident enough to pitch big blogs yet. Let me just attend that confidence-boost webinar by Madame Excellent.
In short, you get scared and you hide behind your so-called preparation.
You hide behind learning and preparing because the thought of actually going “out there” and applying all the tips and techniques you learned scares the bejesus out of you.
Learning is safe consumption. But the trouble lies in this very fact. Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend puts it clearly, “The problem is that there is no risk in consuming.”
No commitments. No responsibilities. No rejection.
You’re comfortable. You don’t grow. And neither does your business and your blog.
Now, time for rehab.
Here are five simple tips to help you get out of this trap and start creating content like you’re supposed to do.
1. Be clear on your goals.
Always know what you want to get out of blogging. Whether it’s to reach out to a wider audience, establish your expertise, or simply for SEO, it’s important to be clear on your goals.
Action: List three things you want to accomplish over a certain amount of time, and let this guide you in creating your content.
2. Stop and let go.
Now that you’re clear on your goals, it’s time to let go of the useless things that keep on stopping you from creating.
Action: Examine your hard drive and inbox and determine which subscriptions or ebooks which are not in line with your goals. Unsubscribe, archive and/or delete.
3. Learn to recognize distractions.
Many distractions disguise themselves as opportunities. Learn the difference.
If there’s new tool, app, blog post, or free ebook that’s tempting you, stop and think if “consuming” those is in line with your goals.
Action: If a new “something” catches your attention online, instead of pursuing it right away, put a pin on it. Keep a list of all brilliant ideas, new tools, and readables using Pocket or Evernote. And when you finally have the time, go back to your list and look them over.
4. Organize your learning.
As mentioned, over consumption of content is usually a form of over preparation for content creation. After all, you really do need to consume content in order to create it. The best way to fast track content creation in this case is to organize your learning.
- Limit the number of blog posts, ebooks, or any other form of content that you consume every day.
- You could also set a specific amount of time for browsing and reading and social media. Use a simple desktop timer or RescueTime to help you keep track.
- Use the Pomodoro technique to help you manage your writing time better.
5. Be publicly accountable.
Hold yourself publicly accountable for your own content creation. The idea of embarrassing yourself because you didn’t keep your word can be a really good motivator to stay on your intended course.
- Join a group or forum where you can share specific goals for the week/month.
- You can also find an accountability partner if a group or forum is too much for you. Meet once a week or once a month if you can or simply communicate online on a regular basis.