Tips to help you stay focused.
Do you remember the dog from Up? He’s all intent on paying attention to the man until a squirrel makes all other thoughts disappear. That’s how I feel most days as an online content creator. And it’s no wonder, with so many places to publish content.
You, my dear readers, know how easily my attention gets pulled away. It started with the 30 Days of Positivity email course, which turned into the Speaking Bipolar Positivity Club. I have a lot of pride in both projects even if writing five posts a week for the Club is a lot of work. But then I decided to do more.
Every weekday, I post content on Medium. At least once a week, I add fresh content to the blog. I try to post weekly Vocal and also write for Constant Content. Add to that, I have two novels in the works, with the first seven chapters of The Adventures of Brody Bipolar now live on Kindle Vella and new episodes published every Saturday.
I enjoy every writing avenue. Writing is my passion, and I love creating content, but it’s making me lose sight of the big projects.
For over a year, I have promised my readers a best of bipolar book. For several months, I have also built up hype in my soon to be released Bipolar Disorder Mastery Course.
With so much on my writing plate, it got me thinking about shiny object syndrome (SOS). I constantly find myself chasing new projects just like the Up dog with his squirrel.
Is it possible to overcome shiny object syndrome? Here’s what I found that may help.
What is shiny object syndrome (SOS)?
Shiny object syndrome (SOS) can affect anyone, but is particularly common among entrepreneurs and content creators. It’s characterized by the pursuit of new projects or goals without completing old ones. This can lead to a lack of focus, which can have negative consequences on your work, health, and relationships.
SOS can also show up in your mental health treatment plan. When you hear a celebrity had success with a new type of therapy or a friend improves with different meds, you may want to charge after their success. SOS is most likely to occur during manic or hypomanic cycles.Download Your Copy
The effects of SOS
If you’re struggling with SOS, there are steps you can take to overcome it. The most important thing is to be aware of the ways it affects you. Identify the squirrels in your life. Once you know what to look for, you can start taking steps to manage it.
There are many factors that can contribute to SOS, but the most common ones are boredom, stress, and anxiety. When you’re feeling bored or stressed, it’s easy to become distracted by shiny new projects. And when you’re feeling anxious, it’s tempting to turn to fresh distractions as a form of self-care.
How to overcome SOS
Overcoming SOS requires self-awareness and discipline. You need to be honest with yourself about why you’re pursuing new projects and what effects they’re having on your life. You also need to be willing to commit to completing old projects before starting new ones. I’ll admit, this is where I struggle the most. My house is full of partially completed projects.
There are several tips you can follow to help manage SOS for projects:
- Set realistic goals and deadlines for yourself. Don’t try to take on too many new projects at once. (Yep, I need to work on this one.)
- Break down big projects into smaller tasks so they’re more manageable.
- Find a support network of people who will hold you accountable and help keep you focused. An accountability buddy can help you stay on track.
- Take regular breaks from work and screen time to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Avoid distractions such as social media and email notifications that can pull you away from your work.
- Schedule time for fun activities outside of work or school to reduce boredom. Spending time outside is especially helpful, as it refreshes both your mind and body.
As far as your mental health, the following tips will also help you avoid SOS.
- Stick to your routines, including eating and taking meds on a regular schedule. This includes sticking with a treatment plan until you can see how it works before running after a different one.
- Find an accountability buddy or join a support group or find a therapist.
- Give medications a chance to work. Some may take up to two months to reach effective levels. It can feel like a long time, but when you find the right medication and dosage level, it’s worth the time you spent.
- Don’t be quick to abandon what works. Just because someone else is finding success with their approach doesn’t mean you should walk away from what’s already helping you.
Final thoughts on SOS
If you’re struggling with SOS, there’s no need to feel ashamed. I believe it’s a consequence of both bipolar disorder and the world we’re living in. When streaming services offer over 10,000 movies, it’s overwhelming to choose just one. It’s why I have at least a dozen movies started in my Hulu queue.
The same is true with the other decisions in your life. Choices can overwhelm you, and when you’re afraid of making the wrong choice, you may want to chase after every new squirrel. Just because there are other options doesn’t mean they are better for you. Give one thing a chance before you run off to the next.
The SOS struggle is real, but it’s one I’m working on. Right now I’m trying a lot of writing projects because I want to find what works quickly. I don’t recommend that path for your mental health. Instead, try one thing at a time and see how it works for you.
When it comes to shiny object syndrome, the most important thing is to admit it’s a problem. Then you can take steps like those above to help you focus on one project at a time. With self-awareness and discipline, you can overcome SOS and achieve your goals.
Until next time, keep fighting.