By Rob Cooney (@EMEducation)
indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life
By: Nir Eyal
I have a confession to make: with the global pandemic raging across the United States, I have found it very difficult to make time to read. It’s not that I don’t have time, but that I’ve just been too distractible by everything going on, from news to managing 3 kids at home 24/7. I have now picked up and read chapters in at least half a dozen books but none of them have spoken to me and they’ve been placed back on the shelf to wait.
Are you currently experiencing a similar conundrum? It’s completely understandable given our current events. The bigger problem though is that we sometimes find it hard to concentrate even when events are normal. There have been several books written in the last five years about the power of focus. indistractable is one of these. Where this book differs is that it focuses on the underlying psychology of distraction.
Mr. Eyal makes use of a simple illustration. In life, we take action. Distraction is action that moves us away from what we really want while traction is action that moves us toward what we really want. We experience a constant tug-of-war between distraction and traction. This may be induced by internal triggers (hunger, tired) or external triggers (pings, dings, and rings). With these four things in mind, he offers up a plan to master our attention: master our internal triggers, make time for traction, manage external triggers, and prevent distractions.
The remainder of the book is focused on each of these four categories. For example, within, the section on mastering internal triggers, you will explore motivation, psychological pain, and internal distractions before taking action on internal triggers, your temperament, in the tasks at hand. The remaining sections follow a similar pattern of understanding before action. The closing chapters focus on fixing workplace distractions, raising indistractable children, and having indistractable relationships.
Like many other books within the genre, indistractible offers an easily digestible exploration of our psyche through the lens of motivational theories and psychology. By focusing on the tension between traction and distraction and managing our internal and external triggers, we actually relearn to harness our focus and attention. One thing that I particularly appreciated about this book compared to other books on the topic, was the acknowledgement that we don’t need to engage in wholesale tech abandonment, we simply need a better understanding of how it distracts us and how to design our usage in order to hack back our focus.
In closing, this is one of the better books about balancing our love of technology with our need to perform deep work. It feels especially pertinent with the current state of affairs but useful anytime. Pick up a copy and share your thoughts!
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