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How to become Indistractable: A Chat with International Best-Selling Author Nir Eyal!

We live in a world full of digital distractions. With easy access to technology, social media and our devices, we are constantly overloaded with distractions that control our attention and time. How do we make best use of technology without letting it take over our lives? Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Author Nir Eyal through his latest book “Indistractable” offers some valuable insights on how to master distraction.

Author Nir Eyal
Author Nir Eyal

Think about a time you made a promise to someone and kept your word. If we commit to something to someone, we follow it through. Right?

But what about the promises that we make with our own self?

To complete that unfinished book or incomplete project, to eat healthy, to be fully present with our loved ones, to run a marathon – whatever it may be.

Why is it so hard to keep our focus on the goal and follow through our best intentions?

Why does our attention get diverted so easily?

Photo by Van Tay Media on Unsplash

We live in a world full of digital distractions. So yes, it is hard to focus when we are constantly surrounded by technology, social media news feed, our digital devices buzzing with updates, email notifications, text messages. We are overloaded with distractions that control our attention and time.

But what if we would become Indistractable? If we can master distraction, then there will be nothing stopping us from reaching our goals. If we are completely focused and give our full attention to the task at hand, nothing can stop us from getting what we want.

That would be a superpower indeed.

In his latest book, “Indistractable”, International best-selling author, former Stanford lecturer and behavioral design expert Nir Eyal reveals the hidden psychology driving us to distraction.

He explains how distraction starts from within! He does not advocate us to dump technology or discard devices or go on a digital detox. Abstinence is not practical, and we all know that.

Instead of quitting technology or social media, Nir Eyal proposes a more balanced 4-step research – backed model to overcome distraction.

I recently had an opportunity to chat with Nir Eyal and learn all about his author journey and also his recommended model to master distraction.

Nir was gracious to offer his valuable insights and techniques to finally control our time and attention much needed to live the life that we chose to.

I also learnt a lot about his backstory, his inspiration and his though process behind his latest work “Indistractable”

Here is the summary of our conversation:

Ash: Tell me a bit about yourself – your story, interest areas and reasoning behind your latest work “Indistractable”

Nir: I am a writer, public speaker and a consultant. My core interest lies at the intersection of Psychology, Business and Technology.

Few years ago, I authored a book called “Hooked: How to build Habit-Forming Products” which went on to become a best seller and was voted as one of the best business books of the year by Goodreads readers.

This year 2019 on Sept 10, I am launching my new book –

“Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life”

This book is the result of a personal struggle that I went through.

Even though I had already written a book about how to build Habit-Forming Products – with the goal of helping people build healthy habits, I noticed there were some products or things that I used too much of.

So, I thought it would be helpful for readers to have an industry insider’s perspective which is why I wrote “Indistractable”.

This has been a long journey for me and helped me figure out how to put distraction in its place in a pro-tech and pro-human way. I want to share my learnings with my readers.

I want to emphasize pro-tech as I do not advocate, we dump technology all together. In fact, Technology is fantastic and definitely enhances our lives.

However, it is certainly important to know how best to use technology in a way that it does not control our lives.

This is the prime reason why I wrote “Indistractable”

I have myself learnt many of these techniques while teaching at Stanford Graduate School of business and at design school.

For the past several years, I have helped many people as well as companies build healthy habits.

My first book “Hooked” has been used by many companies in various industries ranging from education to healthcare as a guide to cultivate better habits.

Now, through my latest work “Indistractable” – I aim to help people handle distraction in a tech -positive way.

Ash: What inspired you to write “Indistractable”?

Nir: I remember one moment that just propelled me to explore distraction in its entirety.

I was with my daughter one afternoon and we had this book that listed activities for daddy-daughter time. The book had one particular question that caught our eye.

The question was “If you can have any superpower, what would you choose?”

My daughter answered that question, but I was not paying any attention to her answer. I was busy with my phone and I was distracted. When I looked up from my phone, she had already left the room. She got the message that she was less important than my phone. She just left me to play outside.

That moment I realized I had to do something. I had to understand what was going on in my own mind and why I was getting so distracted. I wanted to get to bottom to understand distraction

I started to ponder on several questions:

Why we cannot do our best work or lead our best life?

Why we go off-track even though we know the right course?

Why do we often resort to non-productive activities like checking emails too often or constantly browsing social media when we already know these drag us down from our goals?

We already know we need to work out regularly to stay fit. Yet we don’t. Why?

We know we need to eat healthy and yet we can’t resist junk food. Why?

The quest to seek answers led to a through research and analysis of various techniques to manage distraction which is led to the book ‘Indistractable”.

Ash: The book is definitely intriguing and promises to offer a solution to all of us living in this world of digital distractions. With our phones, computer, social media dragging down our productivity, it is a challenge to raise past the noise and do meaningful work.

Wanted to know your perspective and thought process for this book and what can one hope to learn by reading the book?

Nir: So, this book is aimed to help you do all the things that you have always wanted to do – in any aspect of life.

This book will help you become “Indistractable” – it will develop your integrity; it will unlock your superpower of accomplishing things that you strived for but haven’t achieved yet.

Just imagine if we could just accomplish everything that we thought? Everything that we are supposed to do but haven’t done yet

Eating right

Being present fully at the moment with your loved ones

Doing your very best at work

Whatever that you wanted to do.

Just imagine how powerful it would be if you master the power of not getting distracted. If you have this power, then nothing can stop you from becoming the person that you want to be.

Because if you think about it – We kind of already know what we need to do but somehow, we don’t get the things done.

So, this problem is not about knowledge gap but rather about follow- throughs.

This was my thought process as I wrote the book based on why we get distracted so easily and how to manage distractions.

Ash: Focusing just on the writing process, can you share your routine and any other advice for aspiring authors?

Nir: Distraction is a problem that many authors face. I have faced this problem too daily through my author journey.

One of the things that has helped me tremendously is the “Indistractable” model. This model has 4 key parts

  1. Master the internal triggers
  2. Make time for traction
  3. Hack external triggers
  4. Prevent distraction with pacts

These are the 4 simple steps which we can all take to become Indistractable. I use these strategies every single day.

There is lot more depth in these techniques that are detailed in the book. I recommend my readers to definitely explore these strategies further through the book

Ash: Any other interesting facts that you want to share with your readers?

Nir: I used to be clinically obese at one point- but am no longer obese now!

But weight has been something that I constantly struggled with.

My fascination with Psychology started at a very young age for me, especially about how products can change our behavior. In my case food was something that controlled my behavior in ways I did not like. I have come a long way since then!

Fun Facts about Nir Eyal:

  • Favorite Book: Lots of them most recent being “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari
  • Favorite Podcast: Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Favorite Positive Quote: “The Art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” – William James
  • Advice to Younger Self: Don’t take things so seriously. I spent too much time worrying about issues that did not really matter in the big picture of life. When I am overwhelmed, I now remember to say to myself “This too shall Pass” – a mantra which has got me through many tough times which I wish I knew sooner.

If you are looking for ways to master distractions to lead a focused purposeful life in a pro-tech way, then this book is for you!

You can order your copy HERE!

You can connect with Nir Eyal HERE!

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