Indistractable by Nir Eyal
3 Bullet Book: 2020, book #43: “You can’t call something a distraction if you don’t know what it’s distracting you from.” — Nir Eyal
Finished on June 26, 2020
A book filled with timeless lessons. It’s self-awareness at a deeper level. There are many days that I’m sure all of us have where we might be drifting from one task to the next and not properly identifying our priorities. We might get caught up in an activity and ultimately lose focus of what we actually need to be working on. We have more potential distractions at our fingertips than ever before. As I typed this, I even took a pause to check my phone notifications. That’s not the way I want to work. Focused work is always going to be more effective and productive — that’s the type of work that I want to be doing on a regularly consistent basis.
The 3 Bullets
1. I found it fascinating that the author chose to focus on the limitations that many American school children have. Twice as many restrictions as a marine or an incarcerated felon? That’s quite wild to me. It’s hard to find or achieve much fulfillment in that type of setting — especially if it is unclear to a child what fulfillment and psychological nourishment are truly like. To me, the public school system in the United States has gotten so far off base that I could never send a future child of mine there. Hopefully, that changes someday — especially since the large majority of children in the United States participate in public schooling for a long period of time.
2. The focus on answering some questions with an open calendar time makes a lot of sense to me. As I continue to add more value in the company that I’m currently part of, I more regularly get asked for help on projects. I have a tendency to say yes on a regular basis because I know that I can be of great help and probably help the task or item get completed in a much quicker time. Yet, that’s not sustainable and I have different areas of focus that I need to pay attention to. I need to ensure that I can be indistractable and can get the job done. Just like anyone else, that’s how I can provide the most value.
3. The strong emphasis on teamwork and team-building was also particularly great to study and learn about. I know that everyone has a different experience in teams and that many people don’t pull their weight in teams. But, even with a team of high-performers, just putting them on the same team is likely not going to be sufficient. What is? There are five key dynamics that Nir emphasized that set successful teams apart, “1. Dependability 2. Structure and clarity 3. Meaning of work 4. Impact of work 5. Psychological safety — more important than all other four. This is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes”
If you want to master distraction then you must learn to deal with discomfort.
Rather than fighting the urge from a distraction, use these 4 steps to handle intrusive thoughts:
1. Look for discomfort that proceeds the distraction focusing on the internal trigger.
2. Write down the trigger.
3. Explore your sensations with curiosity rather than contempt.
4. Beware of the little moments (ex: the urge to pick up your phone while at a stoplight.)
You can’t call something a distraction if you don’t know what it’s distracting you from.
If it’s not a priority — something else will always come up. Prioritize your relationships or they’ll starve to death.
For a non-urgent question try responding with something like, “I’ve held some open time on Tuesday and Thursday from 4–5, if this is still a concern, please stop by and let’s discuss further.” This gives someone time to solve the problem themselves or set up a discussion in person.
Meeting organizers must do two things to make meetings more effective, they must circulate an agenda of what problem will be discussed and second they must give their best shot of a solution in the form of a brief written digest no more than a page in length.
Brainstorming should happen individually before coming together as a group.
People are more likely to vote when voting is represented as an expression of self, as symbolic of someone’s character rather than just a behavior.
Studies have shown that teaching others can have a greater impact on changing our future behavior than learning from experts when we admit our own struggles. We are empowered by helping others prevent the same mistakes.
Higher risk for clinical depression in the workplace if:
1. High job strain. There are high expectations but employees lack the ability to control the outcome.
2. An environment with an effort/reward imbalance. This is an environment that doesn’t provide much return for their work in either pay or recognition.
The five key dynamics that set successful teams apart:
2. Structure and clarity
3. Meaning of work
4. Impact of work
5. Psychological safety — more important than all other 4. This is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.
Indistractable organizations foster psychological safety, provide space for open discussions about concerns, and most importantly have leaders who exemplify the importance of doing focused work.
Without sufficient amounts of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, kids turn to distraction for psychological nourishment. American children (as middle schoolers and high schoolers) are subjected to twice as many restrictions as United States Marines and incarcerated felons. They also realize early on that the educational environment is not intrinsically rewarding.
When children can’t find those three things (autonomy, competence, and relatedness), they must get them elsewhere.