Shiny object syndrome and productivity

December 20, 2020

For years, I’ve spent hours a week listening to podcasts.

Hardcore History is my all-time favorite. This year, I also spent many hours listening to Pod Save America. And several months ago, I listened to (and loved) WeCrashed,about the rise and fall of the co-working company WeWork.

But for me, podcasts aren’t just fun. I’ve learned a lot from them too. Several years ago, when I was “wantrepreneuring”—wanting to be an entrepreneur without doing much about it—I spent countless hours listening to podcasts like The Fizzle Show to understand how to build an online business.

Having enjoyed podcasts so much for years, and having learned so much from them, I’ve been wanting to start my own. Recently, I’ve had some ideas for the topic and premise of my podcast, and I’ve been really excited to get it going. I already have some guests in mind and I’ve been learning how the tech works.

I already have some momentum, so it would have been easy to schedule guest interviews, to record some episodes, and to publish them. But would that have been the smart thing to do?

After all, I’m in the middle of my preparation for the live group program I’ll be running in January and February. Meanwhile, I know that I’ll have a good amount of tax filing and accounting work to do in early January. Not to mention the other small projects that I am in the middle of. Could I launch a podcast in addition to working on all of that?

If I’m honest, launching a podcast is a shiny object for me right now. And I’m wary of pursuing shiny objects too strongly.

See, if you’re always chasing shiny objects, you’ll never finish anything. You’ll end up with incomplete projects everywhere and you won’t see results. At the same time, shiny objects are exciting—and a certain level of excitement does wonders for your work.

How to navigate the balance between (a) following through on your plans and (b) working on what feels exciting right now?

I like to strike a balance by deliberately deciding which projects I’ll work on each quarter. For example, this quarter I launched the Big-Picture Productivity live program, I re-launched the 30-Day Creator Challenge, I migrated my courses to Teachable, I created a free mini-course on choosing a task manager, and so on. All of these were projects I had scheduled for Q4 of 2020.

Scheduling projects by quarter makes it easy to see whether you have room for other things. I haven’t formally planned Q1 of 2021 yet, but I have a rough plan in mind. Will I have the time and energy to launch a podcast on top of what I already planned to do?

I don’t know. That’s what the planning process is for. In your head, everything seems possible. On paper, not so much.

So I’ll be making my list of Q1 2021 projects in the coming weeks. And I recommend you do the same!

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