How to be indistractable
by Nir Eyal
I highly suggest consuming the full piece here (19 min. read time)
“Distraction has become the norm. We’re blessed with pocket-sized supercomputers that connect us to anyone and everyone, and a buffet of information. But there’s a dark side: those same gadgets distract us, often at the moments that matter most.” — Nir Eyal
“…distraction is your brain ducking challenging feelings such as boredom, loneliness, insecurity, fatigue and uncertainty. These are the internal triggers – the root causes – that prompt you to find the comfort of distraction and open a browser tab, Twitter or email, instead of focusing on the matter at hand.” — Nir Eyal
Here’s what Nir recommends doing to become indistractable:
Self-explore: “Identifying the triggers that made you feel bad in the first place requires self-exploration. When you notice yourself feeling distracted, pause and ask yourself what you’re feeling. Are you worried? Are you afraid? Then go one step deeper. What caused the sensation? How does it feel in your body?” — Nir Eyal
Reframe: “Once you’ve identified the triggers, you can reframe the task at hand…When I hit rough patches mid-book writing, I would say: ‘I get to share this with my audience,’ as opposed to: ‘I really have to work on the book today.’” — Nir Eyal
- Nir continues, “The benefits of reframing also extend to how you think about your own tendencies.” Scolding yourself for getting distracted actually makes the problem worse.
Identify your priorities: “You also need to attack the substance of your work life, noticing not just where your mind goes, but where your time goes as well.” — Nir Eyal
‘Hack back’ against external triggers: Use the technology that ends up distracting you to your advantage. Make this technology work for you not you for it.
Plan ahead: “Forethought is the antidote to impulsivity: you can use a ‘precommitment’ to a particular course of action to exert a powerful influence on your future behavior. If you precommit, you make a choice in advance, and pledge to stick to it – and then you don’t need to depend so much on the whims of self-control or willpower in the moment.” — Nir Eyal
My two cents: A friend and I started using precommitment devices to help us achieve our goals or to get tasks done. For example, I precommited to my friend that I wanted to launch this newsletter on October 1st, 2020 and if I didn’t, I’d have to run 7 miles. I ended up launching on October 2nd, 2020, but who knows if I didn’t have this precommitment device in place, when I may have actually launched.
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