Have you ever looked at the clock and realized that it’s nearly the end of the day and you still haven’t completed anything? Many people can be prone to what I like to call “chasing shiny objects” and very little gets done when you find yourself on this winding road. The key is to learn how to recognize the shiny object trap and handle it correctly.

First, let’s define what I mean by “shiny objects”. Some of the more easily identifiable ones are things like social media, online games, online shopping or even the big one that impacts almost all companies – March Madness. Then there are others that are very good at disguising themselves as work such as email and new technology. It is no secret that email is an important business tool, but those pop-up notifications can draw your attention away from the project you are working on and what often happens is that your intent to ‘just see’ what John had to say or offer some ‘quick assistance’ to a co-worker ends up being something that takes you away from your own work and into an area that you had not planned for.

Technology can be another area that is good at masking its intentions. Let’s say you are working on an important project and you happen to hear about a newer version of the software you are currently using or you hear about a different software that promises to make what you are doing bigger and better at a fraction of the cost…tempting. So you decide to investigate these new technologies and before you know it, hours have passed and you have not made any progress on your project. I am routinely guilty of this. For example, as I write this blog, the notifications for the new version of Office are bombarding me and I am trying my best to resist this shiny object.

There is no doubt that shiny objects are fun, that is why it can be so easy to spend hours chasing them, and what would life be if we didn’t have these enjoyable activities. However, observe those around you and what you will find is that the most productive people rarely chase shiny objects. The best thing you can do is learn to identify what your own “shiny objects” are, and then schedule a set amount of time in your day for these. Knowing you have scheduled time to do them will keep your mindset on what needs to be accomplished making you less prone to falling off track.