It happened again.
There I was, happily working on the slides for a new workshop I’m planning on hosting soon, when an idea popped into my head, “what if I wrote a book about finding your life purpose?”
Next thing I know, I dropped the slides project, opened up Scrivener, and started jotting down a quick outline for the book. Wondering if I had left anything out, I decided to do a quick search on Amazon, Reddit, and FB groups to see what questions people had about their life purpose and turn the most common ones into their own chapters.
By the time evening rolled around, I was overwhelmed. Not only the slides were nowhere finished, but I had spent hours falling into black internet holes that led nowhere.
In chasing that new, shiny idea, I had wasted a full day of work.
What do you do when you’re working on something important, but a new shiny idea pops up to distract you? Should you just let it go and hope it’ll come back?
There’s a better way:
What To Do When A New, Shiny Idea Distracts You
It’s totally normal to get distracted by new, shiny ideas – especially if you’re a creative. Your brain is an idea machine and you want to work on all of them. Now.
But, when you try to do too many things at once, you end up doing nothing – and feeling guilty about it, too.
Here’s what I do now when I’m working on something important and a new, shiny idea pops into my brain:
Step 1: Write The Idea Down
I totally get it when you’re tempted to drop everything to chase your new, shiny idea. You’re worried that if you don’t, you’ll forget all about it forever. A bit dramatic maybe, but it can totally happen.
To avoid that, write that idea down somewhere. I have a special folder on Asana (my project management software) titled New Ideas, where I jot down new ideas as they pop into my head.
Feel free to add as many details as you can, but don’t take more than 5 minutes for this. The whole point is to get your idea out of your head just as it came up, NOT to add to it.
I like to use Asana (or a digital notepad) for this, so I can easily record ideas on-the-go as well. But, you can totally use a physical notebook, if that works best for you.
I’ve also created a digital Weekly Planner that features a special section where you can record your new, shiny ideas as they pop into your head. You can download your FREE copy by subscribing to the newsletter below:
Step 2: Go Back To Work
I get it. That new, shiny idea sounds more interesting than what you’re currently working on.
But, your work has a purpose. There’s a reason why you were working on that particular project.
In my case, I know workshops are key in building my coaching business. They allow me to spread my message to the people who need it and give my audience a taste of what’s it like to work with me.
I can’t afford to neglect them to chase new, shiny ideas that may lead nowhere.
It’s called being a professional. Every day, there are certain tasks and projects you need to work on in your business to make it thrive.
Because success doesn’t happen when you have a Eureka moment. Success is the result of consistent, daily action that’s aligned with your life purpose.
Step 3: Explore Your New Idea
Once your work is done, it’s time to explore your new idea.
I like to set time aside on the weekend to explore all the new shiny ideas that popped up during the week. But you can also explore them as soon as you’re done with the task you were doing or at the end of the day.
As you start exploring your new idea, ask yourself, “is this in service of my life purpose? And, if so, is this the best time to make it happen?”
Writing a book is totally in service of my life purpose. A book instantly invests you with expert authority and allows you to spread your message to an ever bigger audience.
It’s also a huge project that requires a lot of time and commitment. So, while I definitely plan to write it one day, that’s not the best use of my time now.
I’ve created a folder in Asana where I can add ideas for the book whenever they pop into my head, but I won’t start seriously working on it until the middle of next year.
If, on other hand, your idea is something that is in service of your life purpose and you can start doing it now or in the near future, start jotting down all the steps you need to take to make it happen and schedule them in your calendar.
Then, go do them and make that idea a reality.
By getting your new, shiny ideas out of your head and onto a piece of paper, you can finish the work you’ve started and explore your new interests later on – no more feeling guilty for being unproductive.