How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life
Life gets busy. Has Indistractable been gathering dust on your bookshelf? Instead, pick up the key ideas now.
We’re scratching the surface here. If you don’t already have the book, order the book or get the audiobook for free to learn the juicy details.
In the modern world, if you’re not equipped to manage distractions, your brain will easily become manipulated by time-wasting diversions. You’ll ever plan to do something but end up not fulfilling it. The good news is that humans can adapt to such threats. We don’t have another choice. If you hold your breath waiting for corporations to make their products less distracting, you’re going to suffocate.
In his book, Nir Eyal shares how he, a lecturer who spent the past decade researching the hidden psychology that corporations use to make their products so captivating, ironically got hooked. He also believes that we’re more powerful than tech giants, and in his book, “Indistactable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life”, he shares how he overcame his struggles and steps you can take to become indistractable.
Having taken you through the eight key ideas from this book, you will understand the actions to control your attention and choose your life. Whether you feel challenged by internal or external triggers, your reaction will either align with your broader intention or fail to. Traction will assist you in realizing your goals by overcoming indistractions. Becoming indistractable will help you care about your career and those around you.
Let’s dive into the key ideals that will guide your control and attention to becoming indistractable.
About Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal is the bestselling author of “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” and “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.” He has taught at both the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His articles on technology, psychology, and business have appeared in Psychology Today, TechCrunch, The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, and The Atlantic.
StoryShot #1: Master Internal Triggers
We’re motivated by the desire to experience less suffering. So, you’ll always find ways to divert yourself from priority jobs if you don’t address the underlying causes of your distractions. The tough reality is that to escape the reality we’ll get distracted, avoiding things we don’t want to face. However, your response to uncomfortable internal stimuli will determine whether you engage in constructive acts of traction or destructive diversion.
Learn to deal with internal distractions.
By altering how you view distractions from within, you can control them. The trigger, the assignment, and your disposition can all be revised. You need fresh techniques to deal with intrusive thoughts rather than trying to fight the impulse. You can accomplish that with the aid of the steps below:
- Focus on the internal trigger by looking for the discomfort that comes before the distraction.
- Identify the trigger.
- Examine your feelings.
StoryShot #2: Create a Plan for Accomplishing Your Goals
Making a strategy makes it much easier to accomplish your objectives. This also applies while looking to become indistractable. You must create a plan by time boxing your schedule or designating a specific time to accomplish specific tasks. You ought to schedule time for yourself as well.
If you aren’t at your best, are you giving your all in your relationships or at work? You must carve out time for the activities that make you feel that you’re at your best if you want to be your best self. Schedule time for yourself, whether it’s therapy, hanging out with friends, or enrolling in a painting class. Working on yourself also entails making time for healthy meals and a restful night’s sleep, all of which are crucial for maintaining your physical and mental health.
StoryShot #3: Make Time for Traction
Only by marking off a certain period in your schedule can you avoid distractions. It’s impossible to distinguish traction and distraction without prior planning. Because of the structure that restrictions provide, you will perform better under restrictions.
The only method to determine if you are experiencing distraction is to follow a time-boxed routine. You will identify yourself easier if you’re not using your time as intended. Concentrate on influencing the inputs rather than results. Your relationships suffer if you don’t look after yourself. Similarly, when you don’t give yourself the time you require to maintain your physical and mental health, your output will not be at its best. You ought to stop stressing about results you can’t control and instead pay attention to the inputs you can. The likelihood that something you do will succeed is a hope, not a guarantee.
Consider stakeholder sync at work. It’s much more crucial to ensure the time spent at work is consistent with your beliefs. This is because it usually occupies most of your waking hours compared to the other domains. By being clear about our principles and expectations with one another at work, you may accomplish more and live better. The key component of a productive working relationship is trust, and it’s fostered and reinforced by clarity regarding how you spend your time at work.
A thorough, time-boxed timetable makes the trust agreement between employers and employees more understandable. Planning and time boxing your plans are crucial steps to becoming indistractable, whether at work, at home, or on your own. You may make sure that you do the things that matter and disregard the things that don’t by establishing how you spend your time and coordinating with the stakeholders in your life. You are liberated from the insignificant aspects of your day and given back the time you cannot afford to lose.
StoryShot #4: Hack Back External Triggers
First, think about reducing work interruptions. One strategy to minimize unwanted external triggers from other people is to express little tolerance for interruptions. By doing this, you can encourage coworkers or family members to take a moment to reflect on their actions before they disturb your focus.
Your Email is a Large External Interruption.
You must send fewer emails to receive fewer emails. By sending fewer emails, you allow the other side to think of a solution on their own or get rid of the issue. Asking employees to talk about complicated issues during regular office hours will result in improved communication and fewer emails. It takes time to manage unwanted email messages, but by decreasing the possibility that they’ll end up in your inbox, you’ll watch the quantity decline to a trickle rather than a torrent.
Instead of reading your email frequently throughout the day, processing it in batches is significantly more effective and stress-free. Since it takes time for our brains to switch between jobs, it is advisable to concentrate on responding to emails all at once. The issue isn’t so much with checking email as it is with habitually checking it again. When you mark an email as “Today” or “This Week,” the most crucial details will appear in every new message. Therefore, you will only receive urgent emails. Any messages that don’t require any sort of response should be deleted or archived right away.
Consider Hacking Back Group Chat to Minimize Distractions.
As with any job on your time-boxed calendar, schedule time in your day to catch up on group chats. Avoid having a conversation that takes time — a small conversation is best. While major topics require time, traction, and seclusion from other chatter, short, transient topics should be the focus of the conversation. You can also favor having secret meetings. One issue that pushes people to schedule meetings too frequently is to avoid having to solve a problem on their own.
Therefore, the simplest method to stop unnecessary meetings is to make two demands for people calling for meetings:
- Let the organizer distribute the agenda for the problem that will be discussed.
- Let the organizer try to provide a concise, written digest of a solution.
The summary needs only be short, outlining the issue, its justification, and its suggestion. The meeting’s agenda becomes more challenging to discuss if everyone is holding devices in their hands. Therefore, consider leaving personal gadgets outside, apart from one laptop in the room for presenting information and taking notes. You can reduce unnecessary meetings by scheduling them and adhering to the best communication practices. You can also make sure attendees are present in the meeting rather than on their devices.
You Need to Hack Back into Your Smartphone and Desktop.
Deleting unnecessary apps is the first step in reducing distractions from your smartphone. Now, with essential mobile apps remaining, it’s time to declutter your phone to make it less distracting. The goal is that when you open your phone, nothing on them may cause you to lose your concentration. You can tailor your phone to remove unwanted external triggers. Eventually, this will leave you with a distraction-free mobile experience.
Every erroneous icon, open tab, or superfluous bookmark acts as a nagging reminder of things you left unexplored. This is because human brains have trouble finding things when they are positioned in an unorganized manner. It’s easy to click away from the current tab when there are so many tabs running. You can also avoid being sidetracked from work by external distractions by turning off notifications on your computer.
Online Articles and Feeds are Also Significant External Stimuli You Need to Consider
You shouldn’t immediately read a new article in your web browser once it flashes. Instead, adjust the timing of when and how you read online. Doing this will make you less likely to read longer than you intended. Use multichannel multitasking techniques, such as reading articles while exercising or conducting meetings while walking.
Free feed eradicator apps will assist you in getting rid of the origin of several seductive external triggers. If you avoid unnecessary feeds, you will be much more likely to use social media carefully and still have time to connect actively with others. In your quest to become indistractable, overcoming the various external triggers is an important step. Whatever specific technology you decide on, the important thing is to take back control of your experiences rather than letting social networks manage your time and attention.
StoryShot #5: Prevent Distractions With Your Preferred Pacts
Pre-commitments can keep you on track and can help you avoid distractions. They force you to question whether distractions are worth it, thus making the right decision. Pre-commitments are effective since they solidify your rational intentions. They also decrease your likelihood of acting against your best interests. You can use pre-commitments in your counteroffensive against distraction, just as you would in other aspects of our lives.
The effort, cost, and identity pacts are other great factors that might help you avoid distractions. An effort contract eliminates distraction by making it more difficult to engage in undesirable habits. A price pact is a kind of pre-commitment that entails investing in the line that motivates you to carry out your promises. If you follow your planned course of action, you keep the money. However, if you stray from your planned course, you lose it. The price pact may appear harsh to you, but its outcomes are astounding.
In addition, changing your identity is one of the best methods to alter your behavior. Therefore, you can also follow an identity pact, which is a pre-commitment to a self-image that supports you in pursuing what you desire. By aligning your behaviors to your identity, you will make decisions depending on who you believe you are.
StoryShot #6: How to Make Your Workplace Indistractable
We often seek for our devices to escape discomfort. Even if we aren’t genuinely contributing, checking email or reading in a group chat gives us the impression that we are being productive. A series of outcomes lead to the responsiveness cycle. Tech tools such as smartphones can help maintain the cycle. However, the overuse of these technological tools is a symptom, not the cause.
Eyal argues that distraction reduction is a test of organizational culture. Companies frequently mistake the indications of a bad culture, such as excessive use of technology and a high employee turnover rate. Well-being is positively impacted by knowing that your voice matters and that you are not a part of an emotionless, immutable machine.
Companies can only overcome some of their most challenging workplace issues if they provide employees with a psychologically secure space to voice concerns and work through issues with one another. The ability of the organization’s culture to foster an environment where workers may perform at their best without interruption is put to the test. Organizations that are indistractable promote psychological safety and offer a forum for open conversations about issues. In addition, such organizations have leaders who serve as examples of the value of putting forward focused effort.
StoryShot #7: How to Raise Indistractable Children
As you get rid of indistractions, you want your children to follow suit. Eyal presents essential insights on how you can raise indistractable children by offering the following tips.
First, avoid convenient excuses. Just as for adults, kid’s tech is beneficial if used in the right amounts, and harmful if misused. Therefore, you might benefit your children throughout their lives if you teach them how to manage distractions. You must also understand your children’s internal triggers to help them become indistractable. Kids turn to distractions for psychological nourishment when autonomy, competence, and relatedness appear insufficient.
Instead of finding new ways to restrict your kids’ freedom, you should also set out time for traction with them. Share with your kids how you’re changing your own life to handle distractions. Building trust with children requires being open and showing that you can relate to their struggles and difficulties. Children are forced to make spontaneous decisions that frequently entail digital distractions, since they lack a rational plan.
Assist your children with external triggers and let them learn how to create their pacts. As kids get older, their ability to comprehend and use the built-in options for disabling external triggers is a useful indicator of whether they are suitable for a given technological device. As long as they establish the rules and are familiar with using a timer, even young children can learn how to employ pre-commitment. Children should develop the skills necessary to remain indistractable even when their parents aren’t present.
StoryShot #8: How to Have Indistractable Relationships
Social distractions can distance you from your friends mentally. While you apply all the strategies of being indistractable among your friends, some of them may not. Therefore, you need to block unhealthy behaviors and spread new social norms through the indistractable model. This would involve identifying the internal triggers for the situation and scheduling time to stick to important issues. In addition, eradicate all the causes of distractions and adopt pacts to seal healthy behaviors.
Final Summary and Review of Indistractable
We constantly blame technology for increasing our distractions and making it harder for us to complete things as our society becomes more dependent on it. Exploring the psychology of distraction is necessary to comprehend why we are so readily sidetracked. It’s crucial to identify the internal and external causes of your boredom for you to overcome your internal triggers of distractions.
External stimuli might be just as challenging to deal with as it gets harder to complete tasks. Nir Eyal’s counsel will help you overcome your external triggers using straightforward strategies like organization and planning. You can also instruct others and your children on how to become indistractable once you’ve dealt with your distractions.
Select Quotes from Indistractable
“Dissatisfaction and discomfort dominate our brain’s default state, but we can use them to motivate us instead of defeat us.”
“The only way to handle distraction is by learning to handle discomfort.”
“A technique I’ve found particularly helpful for dealing with this distraction trap is the “ten-minute rule.” If I find myself wanting to check my phone as a pacification device when I can’t think of anything better to do, I tell myself it’s fine to give in, but not right now. I have to wait just ten minutes. This technique is effective at helping me deal with all sorts of potential distractions, like googling something rather than writing, eating something unhealthy when I’m bored, or watching another episode on Netflix when I’m “too tired to go to bed.”
“People who did not see willpower as a finite resource did not show signs of ego depletion.”
“Many people still promote the idea of ego depletion, perhaps because they are unaware of the evidence that exists to the contrary. But if Dweck’s conclusions are correct, then perpetuating the idea is doing real harm. If ego depletion is essentially caused by self-defeating thoughts and not by any biological limitation, then the idea makes us less likely to accomplish our goals by providing a rationale to quit when we could otherwise persist.”
“You could smash the container with a hammer or run out and buy more cookies, but that extra effort makes those choices less likely.”
“Every time I want to make an effort pact with myself to avoid getting distracted on my phone, I open the Forest app and set my desired length of phone-free time. As soon as I hit a button marked Plant, a tiny seedling appears on the screen and a timer starts counting down. If I attempt to switch tasks on my phone before the timer runs out, my virtual tree dies. The thought of killing the little virtual tree adds just enough extra effort to discourage me from tapping out of the app—a visible reminder of the pact I’ve made with myself.”
“A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research tested the words people use when faced with temptation. During the experiment, one group was instructed to use the words ‘I can’t’ when considering unhealthy food choices, while the other group used ‘I don’t.’ At the end of the study, participants were offered either a chocolate bar or granola bar to thank them for their time. Nearly twice as many people in the ‘I don’t’ group picked the healthier option on their way out the door.”
What did you learn from the book summary of Indistractable? What was your favorite takeaway? Is there an important insight that we missed? Comment below or tweet to us @storyshots.
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