Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life – Nir Eyal
“Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” is a book written by Nir Eyal, and it was published in 2019. The book is about how to control your attention and focus on what’s important in life, rather than being distracted by external or internal triggers.
In the book, Eyal shares insights and strategies for becoming more productive, achieving personal and professional goals, and living a more fulfilling life.
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What is distraction
Distraction and traction are two opposite words. Traction is something that moves you forward toward your goal.
Distraction pulls you away. It deviates you from your goal.
Distraction hinders our progress while traction accelerates it.
The same activity can act as a distraction for one person and as traction for another. It depends on your goals and what you want to achieve.
If you do something and that something is not helping you to accomplish your goals or is deviating you from your goal, that’s a distraction.
What Motivates us?
We have believed that rewards and punishments are what motivate us. But the new research has found that motivation has very little to do with reward and punishment.
Every behavior of humans is driven to relieve discomfort, pain, and suffering. This is the main cause, while everything else is a proximate cause.
The reason we are easily distracted is that it provides an easy escape from painful reality. And when one behavior is effective at relieving discomfort, we’re likely to continue using it as a tool to escape discomfort.
Unhappy is okay
Why are our smartphones and social media so addictive? Because they are effective at relieving our discomfort, even if temporarily.
Time management is pain management
Distraction is a way our brain deals with pain. And if you want to deal with discomfort, you have to learn to deal with pain.
You are meant to be unhappy
Most of us seek happiness throughout our lives. But that’s not what we have evolved to do. We are living in the safest, healthiest, and most democratic time in all of human history, but still, why are we so restless and unsatisfied?
Happiness is a drugged state
Happiness is nothing else than a drug-induced state of mind.
Being dissatisfied gives us a reason to move forward, work harder, improve ourselves, and evolve.
Dissatisfaction is completely normal. Feeling bad is not bad at all. It’s a survival mechanism. This mindset shift can be a little hard to take, but it can also be liberating.
Dissatisfaction is an innate power that can be channeled to make our lives better.
Satisfaction is temporary
There are four psychological factors that make satisfaction temporary.
- Boredom: People don’t want to be bored. They are constantly seeking something that stimulates their brain. But boredom is when Ideas come to our brains. That’s when the creative side of our brain peaks.
- Negativity bias: Being negative was an evolutionary edge. It helped us survive. Good things are nice, but bad things can kill you. That’s why we pay more attention to negative things instead of the bad stuff.
- Rumination: Rumination is our tendency to keep thinking about bad experiences.
- Hedonic adaptation: It is the tendency to return to the baseline level of satisfaction, no matter what happens to us in life.
Mental abstinence can backfire while managing pain and discomfort. We need better techniques for managing our temptations.
To handle distracting thoughts and behaviors, start by identifying the discomfort that precedes them. Write down the trigger, including the time, activity, and emotions you feel. Discuss your urges as an observer, acknowledging the desire to escape difficult tasks.
Practicing awareness of your behaviors can improve your ability to manage them.
When faced with a craving or impulse, explore your sensations and wait before acting on them. Use the “stream” technique to visualize your thoughts as leaves floating away.
Beware of liminal moments, which can disrupt your focus.
Use the “surfing the edge” technique to delay impulses and reduce distractions.
To make unpleasant tasks more engaging, reimagine them with constraints, novelty, and curiosity. Don’t limit yourself by believing in finite willpower. Reimagine your temperament and persist towards your goals.
Saying you don’t have self-control means defeating yourself. Be self-compassionate.
- Make time for traction
- Turn your values into action
Most of us wake up with no formal plans. We let others plan our days. Instead of doing what we say we will do, we do what others do.
Ask yourself what you are doing. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing.
People are frugal on guarding their personal property, but as soon as it comes to squandering time, they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy
Work from calendar
We perform better under constraints. Limitations give us structure. The timeboxing technique can be used to make time for traction. It sets up an implementation intention.
Eliminate all white spaces in the calendar so you’re left only with a template for how you intend to spend your time each day.
Success can be measured by whether you accomplished what you planned or not. It’s fine to be distracted by YouTube and Netflix as long as you do what you planned to do.
At the end of each week, take fifteen minutes and ask yourself if you did what you planned to do or not. Did you get distracted? What caused distractions? How will you handle those distractions in the future? Are there any changes that you can make to your calendar?
Being indistractable is about making time for traction each day and eliminating distractions that keep us from living the life we want.
Prioritize time for yourself and your loved ones, as external triggers often cause distraction. Identify and remove unhelpful triggers to defend your focus. Use precommitments such as effort, price, and identity pacts to make unwanted behaviors more difficult and encourage positive actions.
Remember, reinforcing your identity as an irresistible person helps prevent distractions.