Controlling Your Attention & Overcoming Distraction is the motive of the book Indistractable whose author is Nir Eyal. The ability to focus and be attentive seems to lessen for people nowadays due to distraction. Indistractable is how to reclaim a hold on your attention, ability to do deep work, and become Indistractable in a new age of the attention economy.
Is only technology a distraction?
Distraction is not always because of materialistic things; it also comes from the inner side of one’s body. So how to limit being distracted and get work done is the idea of the book Indistractable written by the author.
Rather than blaming technology for our inability to stay on track, we must take responsibility and understand the root causes if we have any hope of reclaiming our attention.
Internal and External Triggers
Internal triggers for distraction are hunger, cold, etc. whereas external triggers are those arising from the environment, like a notification on your phone. Nir Eyal says that the root cause of all our behavior is simply the drive to relieve discomfort.
A solution to not blaming
Solely blaming a smartphone for causing distraction is just as flawed as blaming a pedometer (A pedometer is a device, usually portable and electronic or electromechanical, that counts each step a person takes by detecting the motion of the person’s hands or hips) for making someone climbs too many stairs.
To most effectively deal with distraction, we need to learn to deal with discomfort.
4 steps to mastering internal triggers
Step 1: Look for the discomfort that precedes the distraction and focus on internal triggers. What emotions and thoughts come up prior to engaging with the distraction?
Step 2: Write down the internal trigger. Note the time of the day, what you were doing, and how you felt when you noticed the internal trigger.
Step 3: Explore your sensations with curiosity, not with contempt.
Step 4: Be extra cautious during liminal moments (Liminal moments are the transition instances from one task to another throughout the day).
If distraction pulls you away from goals, Traction is what brings you closer to them. Unless you plan ahead it is difficult to know the difference between Traction and Distraction.
The author is a strong advocate of Timeboxing, where you closely schedule out your day in advance. Ideally, you should eliminate all whitespace from your calendar so you know how you want to spend your time each day. That way if you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing then you are off track. Although your aim to follow the time-boxed schedule as closely as possible, understand you will never achieve perfection. Rather each week reflect on where your schedule did not work out so in the coming week you can make it easier to follow the schedule. Over time the ability to stick to the schedule will improve.
Not perfect at maintaining the schedule but show up. Think of yourself as a scientist, experimenting and tweaking your schedule and refining it week after week. Remind yourself that not showing up will be a failure. You can’t always control what you get out of a work session but you can always control whether or not you will show up and how much time you put into a task.
Remove apps from your phone that you do not need. Rearrange your task. First, as Primary tools like driving apps, etc. Second, Slot machines like social media apps use it for some period of time. Third, Aspirations like meditation, exercise, reading apps.
Reclaim your attention. Take care of the sounds you use for notifications.
One must be focused to be doing a task effectively. Remember, being Indistractable means striving to do what you say you will do. It does not mean you will be perfect or never fail. We all do and will continue to struggle with distraction. The game is not to beat distraction but to constantly get better at managing it.