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In praise of BSOs (Bright Shiny Objects)


Bright Shiny Objects can waste lots of time but they can also serve us . . . if we can manage their temptation.

First, a definition. What is a Bright Shiny Object, or BSO?

Bright Shiny Objects are our experiments with practices and tools—generally for marketing purposes—that are new to us. BSOs are in the eye of the beholder; we test something we have picked up on our marketing radar.

BSOs can eat up huge amounts of time without moving our businesses ahead strategically. However, they do offer some benefits:

  • Marketing results. Truthfully, if we’ve only done a little experimentation with something, we most likely will get no results at all, or at least nothing profitable. Still, it’s a possible benefit.

  • Experience with something new. We add another marketing arrow to our quiver. This experience makes us . . .

  • Part of the conversation. When we practice a new marketing technique, we start to evaluate it. We can share in the online (and offline) discussion of how—and whether—it works.

  • A feeling of accomplishment. When our first time requires technical or writing expertise, it feels good to have implemented.

  • Inspiration and energy. A change from the same-old motivates us to keep marketing.

  • Learning experience. Soon we are knowledgeable. Beyond that, we may become experts.

  • A new income stream. We develop a comfort level and sharpen specific skills, enabling us to offer the same service to others. For instance, now that I’ve written hundreds of blog posts, I’m confident in writing them for others for pay. (Plus I have quite a portfolio.)

  • Fun. Yes, it’s fun to try something new. That’s why they’re called Bright Shiny Objects!

As noted above, one danger is wasting time. A few minutes on Twitter become an hour of chit chat leading nowhere. And Facebook is especially dangerous in that respect.

Even more deadly is when all our BSO plans become obligations, contributing to a feeling of weighting-down overwhelm. I believe we see this a lot on the internet. People concerned over how busy they are.

Some people really are over-extended but others are looking over their list made too long by low-priority activities that have become chores solely due to their placement on the list.

If you find your list rich in BSOs (as mine tends to be), it’s vital to sort it out. I literally highlight a very limited number of tasks—often only one—to complete that day. Often it is a writing project. Sometimes it is to complete a certain part of a freelance writing project, supplemented by a blog post or other non-freelance work.

I go through stretches where my lists include BSOs but I carry them over from day to day, not concerning myself if they languish for awhile. And sometimes I sweep them up into a Word file for later consultation while removing them from my day-to-day list, giving myself a fresh start.

BSOs are like a box of mixed chocolates . . . a lot of fun if we pace ourselves at enjoying them.


Originally posted 8-19-12

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