Indistractable by Nir Eyal
Are we the most distracted humans ever? I know I am easily distracted unless I have something pressing or compelling in front of me. Like a deadline, or riding my mountain bike.
Constantly connected, distracted greater than generations before us? Nir Eyal suggests that we monitor our state and what leads to our distraction. To recognise our major distractions like what is contained in our phones – social media, messages, email, colleagues and meetings. The author advises that planning and organisation can be used to get out of distraction.
Thinking of two different states – either in traction (making progress) or distraction (wasting time). Starting with us, there are internal triggers (not always tech related) discomfort and anxiety can still lead to daydreaming and doodling.
External triggers, phones buzzing, talking to colleagues, family and friends, looking for comfort. Coping mechanisms are important in dealing with discomfort, like tacking a difficult task. I find writing discussion papers or books my pace for distraction, looking for a faster fix.
Problem is that if fail to learn the signals, we continue to seek distraction. Think about our everyday tasks, that we need to get done. A technique is to imitate apps by gamifying the task, by setting a time limit.
Recognise the urge to shift to distract, what triggered the feeling, the discomfort? Be rady for it next time. A solution proposed is visualisation, to be by a stream, with distractions being swept downstream away from us.
We need to believe in ourselves, to overcome the temptation. Internal dialogue is key, to be kinder to ourselves, like we would a friend.
Have a plan. Like loosing weight, working to a target and planning accordingly, scheduling specific meals and exercise.
Are we at our best? Set time aside to be our best, scheduling time for ourselves. To cook and buy quality meals, to invest in our relationships and sleep. Relationships should be front and centre. Then our work – use our time wisely here.
Tackle our external triggers. Like planes during take-off and landing (cabin staff are not allowed to talk to pilots about their personal lives) – the most important parts, what about our day? What are the most important parts of our day? Our most productive. A do not disturb sign, headphones and hats that we don’t want to be distracted, turn off your phone, or leave it in another room. The sheer number of emails- provide an element of surprise, like scrolling apps on our phones. Separating emails for action today or leave for later this week.
Workplace distractions – meetings must have an agenda. Messaging and Group chats – turn off and deliberately answer when it suits us daily.
Make a pact with yourself to be indistractable. When you unlock your phone, what do you see first. Distracting apps on a later page. Using an identity pact – see ourselves in a positive light, identify yourself as your desired state.
Apps for Self-control – time outs for email, working with study buddies, using penalties – app takes money.
Why do kids especially become glues to their screens? Reliant on tech, often as they are no longer stimulated by life, nor sufficiently autonomous, or able to relate to others. Coping with pressure, through escaping online. Playdates with other kids are an ideal way to deal with this. In addition, to communicate and learn about the dangers of tech. The value of boundaries becomes clear.
In conclusion the author recommends that as we master planning and organisation to manage our behaviours, our triggers, to help teach others the same.
Photo by Todd Trapani on Unsplash
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