Shiny red ball syndrome (aka shiny object syndrome) is something I have had to deal with much of my life. Although, it didn’t have a name for me until much later in my life when my adult son brought it to light for me. We were walking into a bank one day to cash a check and I was telling him a story about something specific and out of the blue I said, “Oh, look at the pretty flowers.” He was frustrated with me and asked me to please focus and finish the story. By then I couldn’t remember what I was talking about. It was then that this thing called “shiny red ball syndrome” came to life. I had never heard of it prior to that day, but it is real people.
I have always been the type of person that wanted to do a lot of things, to get things done, to accomplish things but I easily lose my focus. It’s hard for me to do exactly one thing. I start to focus on one thing (i.e. write an article about shiny red ball syndrome) and before I know it, I’m off doing something else or thinking about something else I can write about. When I’m trying to think about things I want to do, to decide on those things, or plan what to do and how to go about doing it I get distracted and I’m off to something else. Oh, sure I can come up with a lot of ideas. The problem is I want to do everything!! I’m interested in so many things and it is so hard for me to focus on what I want to do because my mind wonders to the next thing. And off I go! Um, probably explains why I have more than one website going (a little about that later if I don’t get distracted).
What is Shiny Red Ball or Shiny Object Syndrome?
Urban Dictionary describes “shiny object syndrome” as, “to be driven toward shiny objects [a distracting item, person or activity that usually keeps you from doing the thing you should be doing]. Usually related to projects, in the sense that you won’t finish one project before starting a new one.”
I’ve done additional research online and others have described their experiences the same way. I’m glad to know I’m not alone. It is simply something that affects the way you focus on things or the lack of focusing. You can be doing one thing and before you know it, you get distracted and you find yourself off doing something totally different. One gentleman described his ailment as “being like a cat who runs off after a shiny object.” Yep!
How do You Know You Have Shiny Red Ball Syndrome?
Here are just a few of my real life examples:
Scenario #1 – You are talking to a friend or family member about a specific topic and two minutes into the conversation you start talking about a totally different topic. That’s me!
Scenario #2 – You are working on a project and you are totally focused on it for several minutes and you get up to get a drink or go to the restroom. Before you know it, you are completely engulfed in something else and then remember “oh yeah, I was working on my project.” That’s me!
Scenario #3 – You are cleaning the house or cleaning the yard and you go to put something away and you end up in a totally different part of the house or yard. That’s me!
Scenario #4- You are reading a good book but then someone tells you of another book you should read. It sounds even better, so before you know it you’re reading several books at a time. That’s me!
There are plenty more where those came from. Some of my research revealed that business owners often go through shiny object syndrome by starting a project and then jumping to the next project or phase before the first one is done and it is a continuous cycle.
Ugh! It is very frustrating!
What Are Some Things You Can Do to Help You Focus?
Granted I don’t have any science to back this up, but these are just a few things I do to try to stay on task.
Goal #1 – When talking to a friend or family member I try to talk slower and focus on the conversation we are having. This doesn’t always work but I’m getting better.
Goal #2 – When I’m working at home or at work, I try to have a list of the things I need or want to accomplish so that I can check it and match it to my progress. I frequently have more than one list though because there are several things I’m doing at work. It’s a little different than being at home and on my own time. At home, I keep a planner or a list.
Goal #3 – When I’m cleaning the house, I try to focus on one room at a time although I do sometimes end up in another room just because I had to carry something to there and I see something that must be done. I do stop myself and go back to the room I started in, sometimes. I’m getting better.
Goal #4 – Try sticking to one book that interests you and get through it before you start a new one. I’m getting much better at this myself, but it is hard, I have to admit because I see a new book come out that looks really interesting or a friend tells me about something they are reading and I’m interested. What I found, because I read a lot on my Kindle, I can go add them to my wishlist and I read them later. Adding a book to my Kindle wish list helps. Um, I just have two books going right now, as opposed to five or six.
So, if you have a problem with “shiny-red-ball syndrome” or “shiny object syndrome” it’s best to just accept that you are one of a special group of people. You must work a little harder at accomplishing things because it may take you twice as long to get it done, but you’ll get there. The most important thing is to stop and realize that you may be getting off-track or distracted and pull yourself back to what you were doing in the first place. If you get distracted and realize you got off track just simply go back to your first project and add the other one to your list.
Oh yeah, and about the website thing. Yeah, I have several because I couldn’t decide on the subject I wanted to focus on and sometimes I can be writing for one website and I start thinking of things to write about for another website, so I made the decision to have more than one. If you’d like to check them out, they are operationdisney.com; bookbastions.com; and health4youak.com.
And by the way, if you are interested in learning how I built my websites, you can check out the training that I have been doing. It is pretty amazing. You can visit Wealthy Affiliate and get started for free.