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Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS): How Productivity Tools Can Make You Less Productive

Shiny Object Syndrome – How to Stay Productive in a World of Endless Productivity Tools.

By now, we’ve all been subject to or are guilty of adopting every new technology and productivity tool that comes our way. Whether it’s a digital organizer, time-tracking software, or yet another mobile task manager, the temptation to try something new is always present.

But this urge to “keep up with the times” can sometimes lead us down a slippery slope: Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). As its name suggests, SOS is the practice of becoming so distracted by new, shiny tools that they actually become a hindrance to productivity.

Let’s take a closer look at SOS and how it can be avoided to ensure maximum productivity.

What is Shiny Object Syndrome?

Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) is defined as “a situation where people focus undue attention on an idea that is new and trendy, yet drop this as soon as something new takes its place.”

While new technology and productivity apps are intended to make teams more productive and effective, an over-fascination with new technology can quickly turn into a significant obstacle to productivity and success – and it’s a problem that affects teams across all industries. At Javelin, we have seen first-hand how the constant pursuit of new ideas and opportunities can lead to a lack of focus and efficiency.

As a digital marketing consultancy, we work with many clients trying to improve their team’s operational efficiency, and we have found some apps and tools that can be helpful in this regard.

However, we have also seen the frustration that team members feel when they are asked to implement what seems to be an endless list of new “efficiency” tools that ultimately serve to make them more inefficient. The sheer number of tools and apps can be overwhelming, leading to confusion and wasted time. This can be incredibly frustrating when team members are already stretched thin and struggling to keep up with their existing workload.

What Causes Smart Leaders to Fall Victim to Shiny Object Syndrome?

I’ve seen brilliant businesspeople fall victim to SOS on multiple occasions. The underlying cause is usually feeling overwhelmed or behind the times with technology and innovation. In some cases, it’s unwarranted pressure to stay ahead of the competition.

In other cases, it can result from a leader or executive needing to demonstrate their knowledge of new technology and innovation. The desire to be seen as an innovator can sometimes lead leaders to jump the gun and take on new tools before they are actually needed or ready.

In my experience, the primary factor leading to SOS is an addiction to novelty. We are naturally drawn to new things, especially ones that promise to make our lives easier. However, this excitement can often lead to a compulsive urge to acquire every new tool we come across and try it out for ourselves.

The problem arises when the user fails to properly assess whether or not the product is beneficial for them: they may end up with a tool that adds little value or doesn’t match their needs.

How To Avoid Productivity Tool Mistakes

To combat SOS, it’s important to exercise restraint and carefully consider a tool before investing in or using it. Ask yourself questions such as: Is this product really a good fit for me? What are the long-term benefits of an investment of time and money in this particular tool? Can I accomplish my goals with the tools I already have?

Another way to avoid SOS is to take a step back and analyze your current productivity routine. Are there areas where you can streamline or cut out unnecessary tasks? Can any of the tools you already have be used more effectively than the new one? Taking time to reflect on what you need from a productivity tool is the first step toward making more intelligent purchasing decisions.

Some signs that you are exhibiting Shiny Object Syndrome include:

  • Jumping on the latest trend or trying to implement every new app that comes your way without thoroughly evaluating its usefulness
  • Overwhelming your team with too many tools and apps, leading to confusion and wasted time
  • Failing to set clear goals and priorities for your team
  • Focusing on tasks that have little impact on your overall goals

To combat Shiny Object Syndrome and improve operational efficiency, businesses can take several steps, including:

  • Carefully evaluating the tools and apps they are considering using and selecting those that best address specific pain points
  • Running smaller test groups within your organization before rolling out new productivity tools
  • Setting clear goals and outcomes for the adoption of the tool or app
  • Focusing on apps that solve fundamental pain points
  • Avoiding adoption of a productivity tool just because a peer or competitor is using it
  • Understanding the actual cost of the app across the organization and over time
  • Be prepared to accept a “fast fail” approach and move on

Some apps and tools that we have found to be particularly helpful for improving team efficiency include:

  • Project management software like Trello or Asana
  • Communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams
  • Time-tracking software like Harvest or Toggl
  • Mileage tracking apps like Mile IQ

These apps can help teams stay organized, communicate more effectively, and track their progress more accurately. Of course, the key to success with these tools is to use them effectively. This means taking the time to properly set them up, train team members to use them, and develop a clear plan for integrating them into your team’s workflow.

Evaluate and Continually Re-evaluate the Effectiveness of Productivity Tools

It’s also important to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of these tools and make adjustments as needed. Remember, the goal is to improve efficiency, not add more work to your team’s already busy schedule.

The “next big thing” is always just around the corner, but it’s important to remember that not every tool is right for you and your team. Take the time to evaluate the pros and cons of each potential product and look for ways to streamline your current workflow. You can create a productivity system that works for your business with the right combination of tools.

By All Means, If It’s Broke – Fix It!

I’m not saying you should not adopt new tools – quite the contrary. However, taking a step back and evaluating your current productivity process is necessary before spending time and money on something new.

These three simple questions can help you from going down the Shiny Object Syndrome rabbit hole:

  • Does this tool do what I need it to do?
  • Is it a better fit for my team than the one we already have?
  • How will it affect our current workflow?

Answering these questions will help you make an informed decision on whether to go ahead and purchase a new productivity tool or look for ways to improve the one you already have.

Ultimately, SOS can be a major obstacle to productivity and should be avoided whenever possible. By exercising restraint and assessing needs on an ongoing basis, you can ensure that the tools you use will help improve performance rather than hinder it.

We also understand the importance of not overwhelming your team with too many tools and apps, and we work with clients to ensure they use the right tools for their specific needs.

Prevention – The Best Medicine For Shiny Object Syndrome

Shiny Object Syndrome can be a significant roadblock to operational efficiency for businesses. While apps and tools can help improve team efficiency, it’s essential to use them effectively and avoid overwhelming your team with too many options. By carefully evaluating your needs, setting clear goals, and focusing on what is truly important, you can use technology to maximize your team’s efficiency.

By creating an effective strategy, setting clear goals and priorities, and using the right tools matched to your team’s needs, you can get the most out of your digital marketing efforts and improve operational efficiency.

At Javelin, we believe that operational efficiency is critical to success in today’s competitive landscape. Our digital marketing experts will help you develop a clear strategy for your business and implement only the tools and apps that will help you achieve your goals.

Contact us today if you’ve decided it’s time to take your digital marketing strategy to the next level. We’d love to be a part of your team and your success!

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