We all know the importance of eliminating distractions – but it’s hard to do that when we are unable to identify what’s actually distracting us.
Sometimes, we may believe something we are doing is beneficial, but it is actually pulling us off our desired path. Worst of all, we often don’t realize it until it’s too late.
While certainly not a complete list, I wanted to use this article to draw attention to some of the most common distractions I see bloggers get sucked into, so we can avoid them when we come across them!
There is actually such a thing as ‘too much learning.’
Now let me tell you, I do not think there is anything wrong with spending a lot of time learning all you can about a given subject. I actually encourage it, and feel everybody should be reading as much as possible.
There comes a time however where you actually need to go out and apply the knowledge you’ve learned. Knowledge that you’ve learned that you never apply anywhere does not do you much good, and you’ll find that some of the most valuable knowledge you gain is through actually doing things.
You could spend hundreds of hours learning about affiliate marketing for example – reading articles, books, taking video courses, so on and so forth, but until you actually go out and try affiliate marketing, you won’t know exactly what works for you.
There’s a huge difference in learning theory and learning through practical application. During my brief spell at college, I enrolled in several business classes. The problem was everything I ‘learned’ was theory, and was being taught by people who had never actually ran a business before.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather learn by doing, or if I am going to learn from somebody else, it makes far more sense to learn from somebody who has actually started and ran successful businesses than somebody with an MBA. Learning through application teaches you what’s actually important to you as an individual – and often does a better job at it too.
I have a rule for anybody that enters my workspace – no negativity. If you’re going to be negative where I’m working, get the f— out.
Negativity clouds our minds and impacts our judgment. It kills our ambition and makes it difficult to focus. Fortunately for us, much of our negativity in our lives comes from outside sources, which means we have the power to block it out.
You do not have the mental capacity for negativity, because your mind should be filled to the brim with strategies, plans, and outlines towards achieving your goals. You don’t have time to think about doubt or ‘what-ifs’ – or even worse, random negative events in the news that have nothing at all to do with us.
I published a video shortly after the Paris attacks detailing why you should quit watching the news immediately. I highly recommend listening through it.
You would be surprised how drastically simply refusing to let negativity in your life will improve your mood and your productivity.
Shiny Object Syndrome
Have you ever heard of the phrase, “shiny object syndrome?”
In a similar way that a shiny object would distract a child from completing a given task, chasing ‘shiny objects’ on the internet distracts aspiring bloggers from building a solid business.
For example, an ‘internet guru’ claiming to have some secret method of making quick easy cash is a shiny object, and unfortunately, one that many people end up falling for.
It’s very important to understand that blogging is a job just like any other job, and it requires hard work and grinding. There is no ‘secret’ to take advantage of, no magical ‘loophole’ to exploit. With the right knowledge you can get yourself on the right track quicker (which is why I created my blogging course) but there is no push-button solution that will lead to instant riches. Sorry to disappoint.
Stay away from shiny objects and focus on solid, long-term business models that work. Don’t let shiny objects lead you astray – you’ll only end up wasting your time and money.
An Abundance Of Ideas (And Thus, A Lack Of Focus)
Having an abundance of ideas, even if they are good ideas, can also distract you and pull you off the path towards blogging success. This is why I consider focus to be one of the most important skills all solopreneurs share.
The problem with pursuing lots of projects, even if they are all great projects on their own, is you usually don’t have enough time to dedicate to each one of them to make any of them a success. With entrepreneurship, you have to be laser focused. Because if you’re not, somebody else there will be, giving one project their all, and they will master it and steal your customers.
Even as someone experienced with blogging and running online businesses, I have made this mistake. Earlier in 2015 I launched a podcast thinking I’d be able to handle that alongside all the other work I was doing. I was able to keep it up at first, but I found after a while I just didn’t have the time for it. It would have been beneficial, it would have helped me grow my business, it was a great idea, but it pulled me away from everything else I was working on. And that was bad.
Focus entirely on one business when you are just starting out, because that business needs all the attention it can get to grow and thrive. Branch out when you have the time and financial capacity to do so.
Some may think I am making the same mistake I did with my podcast starting my membership site, but the difference between then and now is I have outsourced much of the work I used to do myself. Paying other to free up my time has allowed me to pursue many great ideas – but if I were to have tried this earlier on in my blogging career, I know with no uncertainty I would have failed on all fronts.
Focus. Build up one project before moving onto another. You will thank me later.
A “Good Enough” Mindset
Perhaps the worst of all is having a ‘good enough’ mindset. An idea that you only have to do what’s necessary, and you don’t have to continue working beyond that.
This mindset is OK for employees that don’t care about getting fired. It is not ok for entrepreneurs who are in a results-oriented profession like blogging.
Average people strive to do ‘good enough’ and just enough. That is why they are average. And let me tell you, average is in such a high supply that it’s practically worthless. You aren’t going to get anywhere being average. You must work harder than most people are willing to in order to reap the rewards most people can’t have.
Always remember that you are in a very competitive field. If you aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success, somebody out their will, and they will make sure you are kept below them. You’ve got to hustle. Strive for more. Set bigger goals, and create steps to get there.
Settle for being average and you’ll end up being average. I can promise you that.
I’m sure all of us have had our own unique distractions throughout our blogging journeys – these are only a few of the most common ones.
What has distracted you in your past, and how were you able to ignore it and keep pushing forward?
I’d love to hear your story!
Hi James what a wonderful and eye opening post.
I get a lot of distractions throughout my day with my kids and family etc, and yes I’m guilty for watching the news a lot, especially in the evenings, only because I feel that I can’t allow myself to become selfish and not reflect on what is happening.
The negativity is surrounded by sadness most of the time, and at one stage yes I wasn’t able to work of do anything with my business let alone sleep, thinking of what’s been happening with the news. I don’t watch the news as much anymore unless something is breaking that I feel compelled to tune in.
I completely agree with you with regards to information overload, learning is great and I love to get lost in a book that I know will help me with my business, but certainly not applying what we’ve learned is not so great.
I think my weakness in the last 12 months has been focus, or lack of it. I start to do something and after 10 minutes I get distracted and start doing something else. Like a few days ago, I started writing content for episode 2 of my podcast show, after a while I stopped writing and started messing about with my podcast landing page, then that lead me to mess about with another page, and then something else and so on.
In the new year I really want to hone in on my focus and get one thing done at a time, and shut everything else out. Luckily I do have my own office, so I’m able to lock myself away to work quietly, and yes it’s still reasonably tide since I had that clear out a week or so ago.
Great post again buddy, have a great rest of the week.
Fabrizio Van Marciano(Quote)
Fabrizio Van Marciano recently posted…My Quarterly Blog Income And Progress Report: July – Sept 2015
Hi Fabrizio! Great to see you back here again.
I understand how family can distract us from our work, but I suppose that’s a good and necessary distraction right? Some distractions are better than others, and I’m sure we can both agree there are many more important things to life than our work.
Lack of focus was also a huge weakness of mine, it still is to an extent. In fact, one of my major goals of 2015 was learning how to manage my time more effectively. I can totally relate to that though, it used to take me forever to get things done because I’d get distracted and end up working on 10 different things at once it seemed. One thing that really helped me was keeping a whiteboard on my door with the goals I wanted to accomplish that day, in order. These days I force myself to get through one before moving onto another, but it’s still difficult.
I’m jealous of your office – I would love one of my own eventually.
Anyway it’s good to hear your stories and that you agree with a lot of my posts. Always good to talk to you Fabrizio and thanks again for featuring me in your expert roundup post.
James McAllister recently posted…Do You Have A Vision?
This is such an important article. Most of my clients and students who struggle to achieve, are those who just can’t get past distractions.
The 5 you list here are probably the biggest roadblocks to success.
I think the biggest one is what you call “An Abundance of Ideas.”
People want to implement things in their business that they know are a good idea. But, like your podcast, even the best ideas are best to pass on if they are taking you off track. You really need to have ONE task to accomplish and stick to it. Forget all the many, many tactics that can help you along the way. Forget the shiny object software and slick strategies. Just develop one main business model, have one main strategy to develop it, and keep on the blinders to everything else until you’ve hit pay dirt with your first idea.
PS: as for your membership site, I think your challenge, my friend, is to develop content for it that you can repurpose and integrate into your main business model. You are then killing 2 birds with 1 stone… that’s a sweet way to go.
Donna Merrill recently posted…Why You Need A Tribe To Build Your Online Business
Spot on Donna!
I really do think in business it’s better to be a master of few than a jack of all trades in most cases. We can then partner with people who’s strengths are our weaknesses, and that is the making of an impactful team right there.
My issue was wanting to expand too quickly because I did have a lot of ideas and wanted to pursue them before I should have. I try to be conservative with my estimates but even I was not ready for the new time commitment the podcast entailed.
I’m at a point now where half of my work is done by somebody else and that has allowed me to take on new projects like the membership site (which I wish I would’ve started sooner!) but I still like to cut out time when possible. The idea of repurposing is a great one and after talking with you about Periscope yesterday, I could see how that could play a nice role…
You always give me something to think about Donna, thank you!
James McAllister recently posted…The Biggest Change To Help Start My Site Since Its Creation
“Abundance of ideas”…. that is a fantastic one that I haven’t seen anyone talking about. I was just sharing on a call yesterday why clarity is so important to a business. It is the guide that creates simplicity, eliminates complexity and enhances efficiency in profitability across the entire business.
The challenge is that when we learn and then apply what we learn without a context these things become a distraction. Just like podcasting did for you. Too many try to do too much too quickly and they are not even certain of how a strategy fits into their message and audience.
Then they don’t have a way to measure or gauge it because they aren’t clear about why they are doing it and who they are specifically doing it for. It’s just throwing mud on the wall and hoping it sticks.
I have to agree with you completely about the negativity stuff. In fact, I won’t even engage with people who are negative, let alone work with them or hire them. It’s a futile waste of time, energy and money.
Great post James!!!
I appreciate your insights. I hope you have a great end to your week.
~ Don Purdum
Don Purdum recently posted…Overcoming the Challenges of Owning a Business
I just had to include that one on the list because it’s one I suffered from myself, moreso than many of the others. There is such a thing as too many good ideas and I think this is the problem many ‘big thinkers’ run into. Not only do you need a clear way to effectively weave everything together, but you have to make sure you have the resources for everything to work out. As you said, throwing something on the wall and hoping it sticks is not a good way to run any business.
When I started my podcast, I had everything working together good and it was actually yielding results beyond what I had hoped for. The problem was, I underestimated the time commitment necessary and had to cut something off somewhere. Because the podcast was not yet truly established as a branch of my business, I knew out of anywhere to cut, that would be the easiest to relaunch later down the line. One day, it will come back. But I will have to be certain that I can handle the commitment before jumping back into it.
I don’t blame you for not wanting to work with negative people. Who would? I want to surround myself with people who will lift me up, not push me down. There are too many people in this world to connect with to settle for negativity, right?
Good to talk to you Don!
James McAllister recently posted…Blogging To Retirement Is A Terrible Idea
This is an important post for all of us that end up being stagnant in our blogs and businesses. I can resonate with all of the points that you made, but the first 3 takes the cake for me.
I use to go to training after training and sign up for webinars after Webinar but would never apply what I learned. There was this fear of failure that held me back and I find this to be common. With this fear you give into negativity. This clouds your mind as you mentioned and you start to focus on unproductive things which can hold you back. Eventually you get into an act of desperation and catch the shiny object syndrome, looking for those quick fixes which you end up wasting a lot of time.
This was a big lesson learned for me and I tend to narrow my focus more so now so that I can stay focus on what needs to be done. A lot of us fall victim to these distractions and it’s great that people like you and me can put others back on the right track.
Thanks for sharing James! Have a great day!
Hey Sherman! Good to see you again.
A lot of people fall victim to that trap, and it’s good to see you’ve gotten out of it. Many people don’t, and end up either never starting anything, or never sticking with the idea long enough for results to actually come.
I didn’t actually think about how one thing tends to lead to another, now that you have pointed that out to me it’s very clear you are right, and I thank you for that. If only people could see this post BEFORE they jumped into internet marketing. It would be nice for people to know beforehand, “hey, watch out for these because they will creep up on you without you realizing it.”
The sad thing is that people end up running in circles, never accomplishing anything, and then they go on to believe making money online is impossible and us marketers trying to help people are actually scammers. Oh well…
Thanks for stopping by Sherman and you have a great day too!
James McAllister recently posted…5 Side Hustles To Consider Alongside Blogging
I’m afraid this post could have been written for me – with the exception of “Negative News”. I do the bare minimum on “The News”, just enough to know what people are talking about, because otherwise it gets me too depressed.
Too much learning, too many ideas, not enough focus and implementation – definitely areas I need to improve on. To some extent these are fueled by my offline business, where – at the drop of a hat – I’m called upon to divert on their work – and it’s very well paid, so takes priority. But sometimes, they get diverted and I’m left waiting for the next step. But I always have something in reserve I can turn to!
You didn’t say what I was expecting you to say in the “Good enough” mindset point 🙂 I tend to be (too much of??) a perfectionist in everything I do. Spending hours polishing blog posts, probably way beyond what anyone would notice in the 4 or 5 minutes they take reading it. But, perhaps they’d soon notice if I didn’t “polish”. At least you’ve given me a more positive way of thinking about what I had considered a fault – my perfectionist tendencies. I shall now tell myself I am striving to be “above average”.
Very interesting post, Thanks, Joy
Joy Healey recently posted…Building A Network Business
Yep, I only tune into news that directly effects me, and that’s usually not stuff you’ll find on traditional news outlets. The way I see it, if it’s important I’ll find it out somewhere else, where I won’t have fear or sadness trying to be shoved down my throat. No thanks.
Your situation is understandable. I run two offline businesses now and it can be hard to balance time between all of them – especially as you said, when you never know when you’ll be called upon. I have tried to remedy this by dedicating a chunk of time towards a specific business when possible and being laser focused with what I intend to get done during that time. It’s helped a bit.
Hey, it’s better to be a perfectionist than to be mediocre. At least you’ll know the stuff you’re putting out is good. I do think there is an issue with spending too much time perfecting something, but as long as it’s not excessive it helps more than it hurts. That is a great way to look at it – you are striving to be above average, and that is where you should be aiming if you want to results. It is definitely a good thing!
Thanks for stopping by to comment Joy!
James McAllister recently posted…The Biggest Change To Help Start My Site Since Its Creation
Great points James!
All of them hit the spot.
Lack of focus is one the biggest causes of failure and not just in the blogging world either. Newbies especially, suffer from information overload, and then to compound the problem they fall prey to shiny object syndrome.
Over the last couple of years I’ve made quite a lot of money from an affiliate program I’ve been promoting. When I look at the results that others have been getting I see that most of them make little or no money. Why so? Is there a problem with the program itself, or is it something else?
Well, I’ve examined the behaviour patterns of 50 people who joined the program and in every instance they were wildly unfocused. Indeed within two months many had joined other programs. And they didn’t make any money with them either!
Regarding your point about info overload:
Some people are patently unsuited to the online world. You don’t need to be a genius to make money online, but you do need some aptitude when it comes to understanding basic concepts, strategies and techniques.
That said, my other observation has been that one of the reasons why people suffer from information overload is due to one core reason: lack of implementation. If they insist on spending their days studying rather than doing the work, of course they’re going to be overloaded!!
Great topic James!
Kim Willis recently posted…How to Use Blog Commenting to Gain Instant Credibility
Honestly I’m not surprised at all by the observations you’ve made – I’ve noticed a lot of this myself. It’s amazing how many make money online bloggers are no longer in business a year later. It really makes you wonder if they were practicing what they were preaching. There are so many old comment links that have been left here that now lead to 404’s, it’s pretty sad.
Now that you and Sherman have connected the dots for me, it’s easy to see how one thing tends to lead to another. I really hope more people can see this post so they don’t dig themselves into a hole that’s hard to get out of. While I was able to forsee many of these distractions myself, many others are not so fortunate.
These days I often advise people to find a proven, scalable business model that brings out their strengths and to STICK WITH IT. That last part is vital. You and I know making money online isn’t always easy, and unfortunately many people give up before they see results – even if they were on the right path. It’s really sad.
Always appreciate the valuable comments Kim, talk soon!
James McAllister recently posted…Do You Have A Vision?
I discovered that once you start working on an article the ideas start to flow! Sometimes I get stuck because I can’t think of a topic but once I start writing about the first subject that comes to my mind, the ideas start to flow, and I can immediately think of a whole list of topics. I also would include consistency into the formula, once you create the habit of writing everyday, managing a blog becomes a whole lot easier!
P.S. I followed you on Twitter.
Timothy Gagnon recently posted…The Complete Guide to Content Marketing on Social Media: Learn How to Drive Targeted Traffic to Your Website in a Matter of Minutes!
Hey Timothy, you’re absolutely right!
I try hard to keep a surplus of ideas in place but when I run out, I often find coming up with the article ideas takes just as long as it does to write the article, especially if you really know the topic and have the information internalized. In my Kindle course I tell people to just write SOMETHING down. Once we get over the mental hurdle, writing can go on as normal and we can continue working productively.
Nothing more frustrating than feeling you need to get something done, but just not having anything to write, right?
Consistency is a good piece of advice. It’s important not only for our readers, but for us as well. You bring up a great point.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Timothy, I’ve followed you on Twitter as well!
James McAllister recently posted…5 Side Hustles To Consider Alongside Blogging
What an inspiring post!
I totally agree with all five points here but there’s one that really affected me and that is information overload.
Yes, I read a lot about blogging and I ended up signing up for a thousand and one courses. The downside of this for me was that I didn’t know which to apply, with time it seemed like my brain was going to burst out, I imagined my mailbox blowing and I got sick of everything.
Then I knew it was time to start all over and implement what am learning. I took things one step at a time. If we decide to take things one step at a time, then life or should I say blogging will be a whole lot easier and in no time we will be achieving those blogging goals.
Thanks for sharing this awesome post with us.
Have a great day.
Kore Duke recently posted…4 Ways to Thwart Comment Spam Once and For All
Information overload is a huge one and it’s unfortunate to see how it’s affected so many people. Having so much information available at our fingertips seems to be both a blessing and a curse sometimes. I have always tried to keep things simple because I believe the most important thing is taking action. We can always make adjustments along the way and truly learn a lot while doing so.
I really appreciate you sharing your story with us and I agree completely that taking things one step at a time is the way to do it. We all have only 24 hours in a day to get things done, but those who focus are the ones that make the most impact with that time.
James McAllister recently posted…These 5 Common Blogging Mistakes Are Killing Your Profits