Book Notes: Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal

Reading Time: 20 minutes

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal

Publisher : Bloomsbury (2019)

ISBN-13 : 978-1526619297

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

💡 3 Main Ideas

  • In the future, there will be two kinds of people in the world: those who let their attention and lives be controlled and coerced by others and those who proudly call themselves “indistractable.” (11) Being indistractable means striving to do what you say you will do. It means keeping promises to yourself, and to others. In short, being indistractable is about being a person of integrity who keeps his or her commitments.
  • Identify your values, and make time to act on them. Traction involves any action that moves you closer to achieving your goals. Distraction is its opposite; any action that takes you farther away from your goals. Traction enables you to act on your goals and values. By making time to act on what you value, it becomes clear what is and is not a distraction. You can’t call something a distraction unless you know what it’s distracting you from.
  • The antidote to impulsiveness and distraction is forethought. Planning ahead ensures you will follow through.Planning ahead is the only way to know the difference between traction and distraction. Timeboxing is a form of scheduling and planning ahead that is a particularly good way to ensure that your time is properly accounted for, and is used in the manner in which you intended.

🔑 Five Key Takeaways

  • Distraction stops you from achieving your goals. It is any action that moves you away from what you really want. Traction leads you closer to your goals. It is any action that moves you toward what you really want.
  • Distraction starts from within. Overuse or addiction to technology is only a surface-level symptom of a much deeper cause. We blame things like social media, video games, smart phones, television, etc for our distraction. But distraction is about more than our devices. These devices and technology are just proximate causes. The root cause is the human desire to escape pain or discomfort. We must separate proximate causes from the actual root cause, and try to understand the actual root cause of distraction.
  • Discomfort is a form of pain. The root cause of distraction, like all of human motivation, is a desire to escape pain or discomfort. Our brains try to handle pain by seeking distraction. But, evolution favors discontent over satisfaction. So, being unhappy or dissatisfied is actually the normal state of affairs for most humans. Feeling bad isn’t something to necessarily be avoided. Consequently, the only way to handle distraction is by learning to manage discomfort. Recognizing pain or dissatisfaction, and learning to rise above it, is the key to learning how to manage discomfort, and to becoming indistractable.
  • Four Step Model for Dealing with Distractions. To become indistractable, you must:
    1. Learn to deal with internal triggers
    2. Make time for traction, ie., the things you really want to do
    3. Remove harmful external triggers
    4. Use precommitments or pacts
  • You need to keep a schedule. Planning ahead is the only way to know the difference between traction and distraction.  (52) You can’t call something a distraction unless you know what it’s distracting you from.  (50). You need to have an action plan for whatever activity you’re supposed to be doing at any given moment. If you need to think every time you need to switch tasks or do something different, you’re more likely to be distracted in that liminal moment.

✍️ Top Quotes

  • The antidote to impulsiveness is forethought. Planning ahead ensures you will follow through. (12)
  • …distraction is always an unhealthy escape from reality. How we deal with uncomfortable internal triggers determines whether we pursue healthful acts of traction or self-defeating distractions. (25)
  • If we want to master distraction, we must learn to deal with discomfort. (31)
  • “Every desirable experience—passionate love, a spiritual high, the pleasure of a new possession, the exhilaration of success—is transitory.” (30) [David Myers, The Pursuit of Happiness]
  • Being indistractable is largely about making sure you make time for traction each day and eliminating the distraction that keeps you from living the life you want—one that involves taking care of yourself, your relationships, and your work. (52)
  • Is your schedule filled with carefully timeboxed plans, or is it mostly empty? Does it reflect who you are?…Are you letting others steal your time or do you guard it as the limited and precious resource it is? …By turning our values into time, we make sure we have time for traction. (52)

📒 Summary

There are two kinds of people: Those who let their attention and their lives be controlled and manipulated by others, and indistractable people, who are in charge of their attention and their lives.

Eyal writes, “living the life we want requires not only doing the right things; it also requires we stop doing the wrong things that take us off track.  (14)”

In order to lead the lives we really want, according to our values, we must not only do the right things, but we must also stop doing the wrong things. Distraction is any action that moves you away from what you really want. Distraction stops you from achieving your goals. Traction leads you closer to your goals. It is any action that moves you toward what you really want.

Distractions have always existed throughout the history of human society. From the introduction of books, telephones, radios, televisions, computers, smartphones and so on, technological innovations have always prompted a cultural panic about the societal and behavioral consequences. So, distractions are nothing new, and will always be with us. It is our responsibility to manage how we deal with distraction.

Distraction is an attempt to escape from pain or discomfort. Although there are two types of distractions –  internal and external, the root cause of all human behavior is the desire to escape pain or discomfort. Distraction is an attempt to escape from reality.

But pain or discomfort is an inevitability of life. Furthermore, we are evolutionarily hardwired to never be permanently content. Without dissatisfaction, we would never seek to invent, build, explore, or improve our situation.

“If satisfaction and pleasure were permanent, there might be little incentive to continue seeking further benefits or advances.”  (28) [ Review of General Psychology]

So, we are eternally discontent, and all human motivation and behavior stems from that discontent. So, if we want to master distraction, we must learn to deal with discomfort.

Consequently, being indistractable is about finding the root cause of distraction, rather than blaming proximate causes. It’s about learning to master our urges and desire to escape discomfort or dissatisfaction, and channeling them towards more productive ends, towards traction, ie. our own stated goals and values.

To become indistractable, there is a four-step model to follow. You must:

  1. Learn to deal with internal triggers
  2. Make time for traction, i.e., the things you really want to do
  3. Remove harmful external triggers
  4. Use precommitments

The first half of the book, parts 1 – 4, contains the most useful strategies and systems for becoming less distracted and more intentional with your time. The second half of the book, parts 5 through 7, is more about tactical approaches to dealing with distraction in the workplace, helping children to manage distraction, and reducing distraction in our relationships. Those sections are slightly more repetitive variations of the four-part model to deal with distraction that is already outlined in the first half.

It’s a useful book, though. It provides insight into understanding the psychological reasons behind distraction, and learning productive techniques to address the root causes, as opposed to the surface symptoms.

🏗️ Structure

  • Introduction: From Hooked to Indistractable
    • Chapters 1 – 2
  • Part 1: Master Internal Triggers
    • Chapters 3 – 8
  • Part 2: Make Time for Traction
    • Chapters 9 – 12
  • Part 3: Hack Back External Triggers
    • Chapters 13 – 21
  • Part 4: Prevent Distraction with Pacts
    • Chapters 22 – 25
  • Part 5: How to Make Your Workplace Indistractable
    • Chapters 26 – 28
  • Part 6: How to Raise Indistractable Children (And Why We All Need Psychological Nutrients)
    • Chapters 29 – 33
  • Part 7: How to Have Indistractable Relationships
    • Chapters 34 – 35


💡 Lessons

1 ) Traction vs Distraction

Eyal writes,living the life we want requires not only doing the right things; it also requires we stop doing the wrong things that take us off track.” (14). Any action that helps you do the right things is pulling us towards traction. Any action that draws you away from doing the right thing is a “distraction”. Distractions prevent you from achieving your goals, while traction leads you closer to achieving those goals. Distraction, the opposite of traction, is any action that leads you away from what you really want. 

2) Identify Your Values

You can’t call something a distraction unless you know what it’s distracting you from. Your values help you identify what is important to you. A value is a guiding star; the fixed point we use to help us navigate our life choices. (48) Values help us to better align our actions with what’s important to us.

Our values can help us live lives we can be proud of in the three major life domains: you, your relationships, and your work. These 3 life domains provide a framework for how we plan our days so that our actions are aligned with our values. They provide a framework to align how we spend our time with our values.


  • You are at the center of the three life domains. If you don’t take care of yourself, the other domains (your work and your relationships) falter. Consequently, you need to invest in yourself, so that you are mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually healthy and can operate at peak capacity.
  • Take time to rest, exercise, eat healthy, read books, meditate, pray, reflect, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature, listen to music, etc
  • You need to prioritize and make time for these renewal activities in your schedule: allow enough time in your schedule for sleep, proper hygiene, exercise, and healthy eating.

Your relationships

  • Too often, we take our loved ones for granted, and we don’t make time in our schedules for them. The people we love get whatever is left over in our schedules from our work and “you” domains. They become residual beneficiaries of our time.
  • You need to make a conscious and deliberate plan to make time for your relationships in your weekly schedule. This allows you to live up to your values of being a good spouse, partner, father, mother, friend, daughter, etc.You need to make time for the ones you love. If someone is important to you, make regular time for them on your calendar. Make time for your children, your significant other (this includes both date nights and equitable division of household chores).
  • Satisfying friendships need 3 things: “somebody to talk to, someone to depend on, and someone to enjoy.” pg. 60
  • Socially disconnected people are…“less happy; their health declines earlier in midlife; their brain functioning declines sooner; [and] they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely.” ….“It’s not just the number of friends you have . . . It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.” pg. 60 [Robert Waldinger, Harvard Study of Adult Development]

Your work

  • Your work doesn’t exclusively mean paid labor. It also includes your hobbies, volunteer work, side projects, activism, etc

3) All Actions are prompted by Triggers

Triggers are what come before thoughts, feelings and behavior and can lead to a response or change in emotion and behavior.

A trigger can be internal or external. An internal trigger is a cue that comes from within. Examples include feeling cold, tired, sick, happy, angry, happy, etc. External triggers are cues that come from the external environment. Examples include alerts, bells, phone notifications, or even other people.

Triggers can either lead us to traction (actions aligned with our goals and values) or distraction (actions that fail to help us accomplish our goals)

The Fogg Behavior Model (created by Stanford professor B.J. Fogg).

The model states that for a behavior (B) to occur, three things must be present simultaneously: motivation (M), ability or the ease of the action (A) and a trigger (T).

The formula: B=MAT

  • Motivation
    • “the energy for action,”
    • When we’re highly motivated, we have a strong desire, and the requisite energy, to take an action (69)
  • Ability
    • The relative ease of an action.
    • The harder something is to do, the less likely you are to do it. The easier something is to do, the more likely you are to do it.
  • Trigger
    • A trigger to tell us what to do next is always required. Without the trigger, the action will not occur.

External triggers are very important in the B=MAT formula. Without a trigger, an action will not occur.

When a trigger occurs, the most important question to ask, in terms of distraction, is “Is this trigger serving me, or am I serving it?” (72)

4) Distraction Has a Price

The cost of distraction is a loss of attention and focus, which are the foundations of human creativity, innovation, and autonomy. We become unable to do the things we really want to do, and it prevents us from living the lives that we would like to lead according to our own values. A loss of attention and autonomy is the price we pay for distraction.

And although distractions have always been present throughout human history, the current pace of technological innovation via the introduction of the internet and smartphones has rapidly accelerated the potential for distraction.  “The amount of information available, the speed at which it can be disseminated, and the ubiquity of access to new content on our devices has made for a trifecta of distraction. (18).

Consequently, and presciently, in 1971, psychologist Herbert A. Simon foretold the price of distraction, “The wealth of information means a dearth of something else . . . a poverty of attention.”  (18)


5)Motivation comes from Avoidance of Pain

Motivation isn’t really driven by pleasure or punishment. It’s mostly driven by the desire to free ourselves from the pain or discomfort of wanting. “The drive to relieve discomfort is the root cause of all our behavior, while everything else is a proximate cause.” (23)

Unfortunately for us, dissatisfaction is behind the success of the human race. It powers everything we do. Evolution favors dissatisfaction over contentment, so we have evolved to be constantly restless and unsatisfied.

“It is our dissatisfaction that propels us to do everything we do, including to hunt, seek, create, and adapt….Dissatisfaction is responsible for our species’ advancements and its faults.”  (30-31)

For humans, satisfaction is temporary; we quickly develop new desires. If humans were permanently satisfied and content with our current situation, there would be no drive to create, to improve, to invent, to build.

“If satisfaction and pleasure were permanent, there might be little incentive to continue seeking further benefits or advances.”  (28)

Our brains try to handle pain or dissatisfaction by seeking distraction. But because evolution favors discontent over satisfaction, satisfaction is temporary, and the only way to handle distraction is by learning to manage discomfort.

Feeling bad shouldn’t be something to necessarily be avoided. Recognizing pain or dissatisfaction, and learning to rise above it, is the key to learning how to manage discomfort, and to becoming indistractable.


6) Four Step Model for Dealing with Distractions

To become indistractable, you must:

  • Master internal triggers
  • Make time for traction
  • Hack back harmful external triggers
  • Use precommitments or pacts to prevent distraction

7)Master Internal Triggers

  • Learn how to deal with discomfort.
  • Observe urges and allow them to dissolve.
  • Reimagine the trigger or task.
  • We need to manage distractions that come from within by changing the way we think about them. We can “recondition our minds to seek relief from internal triggers in a reflective rather than a reactive way.” (38)
  • Tactical Strategies:
    • Avoid suppressing your urges or impulses
    • Calmly observe the trigger (in a detached, observational manner)
    • Be curious, not furious, about the sensation, explore your emotions, and stay with the feeling before acting on the impulse. “surf the urge”
    • Beware of liminal moments (transitional moments between tasks, e.g. waiting in line, being stuck in traffic, etc)
    • Reimagine the task and make it fun. Use games to make a task more fun and interesting (create challenges, mysteries, or seek novelty)
    • Use self-talk to label yourself as indistractable. Mindset matters. The way we talk to ourselves matters. Your willpower runs out only if you believe it does, and Labeling yourself as having poor self-control actually leads to less self-control. Avoid labeling yourself as “easily distracted” or being “a quitter.”

8) Make Time for Traction

  • Turn your values into time
  • Schedule time for yourself and important relationships
  • Sync your calendar with stakeholders so they’re less likely to distract you.

“People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time, they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” (48) [Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher]

  • Only 30% of Americans keep a daily schedule.
  • Constraints (via keeping a schedule) can actually provide freedom. We actually perform better under constraints.
    • …limitations give us a structure, while a blank schedule and a mile-long to-do list torments us with too many choices. (50)


  • The most effective way to make time for traction is to keep a schedule. And an effective technique called timeboxing helps you decide what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. (in psychological language, timeboxing is an implementation intention)
  • In timeboxing, you divide your day into boxes or blocks of time. The goal is to account for every minute of your day, so that you have clarity on exactly how you intend to spend your time each day.
  • What you actually do with your time isn’t that important. “Success is measured by whether you did what you planned to do.” (50)
  • Keeping a timeboxed schedule is the only way to know if you’re distracted. If you’re not spending your time doing what you’d planned, you’re off track. (50)
  • Planning ahead is the only way to know the difference between traction and distraction. (52) You can’t call something a distraction unless you know what it’s distracting you from. (50)
  • Most people find that a weekly review is sufficient.

How to Create a Weekly Timeboxed Schedule

  • Timebox your day. Start by creating a weekly calendar template for your perfect week.
  • Use “timeboxing” to make time for each of your life domains (you, your relationships, your work).
    • It’s similar to Habit 3, from Steven Covey, “Put First Things First”. You need to plan ahead and make time for the things that are important to you in each domain.
    • Your work doesn’t exclusively mean paid labor. It also includes your hobbies, volunteer work, side projects, activism, etc
  • Regularly make time in your calendar each week to
    • Reflect: on how you spent your time at the end of the week
    • Refine: and improve your schedule for the next week based on your reflections.

Don’t Worry Too Much about Results

  • When it comes to our time, we should stop worrying about outcomes we can’t control and instead focus on the inputs we can. (55)
  • With timeboxing, the one thing we control is the time we put into a task. So making sure you allocate time to living your values is the only thing you should focus on. After all, not showing up guarantees failure. But if you dedicate enough time to a task, you’ve given yourself a better chance of success. You can’t necessarily control the output during a timebox, but you can control the input, ie. how much time you dedicate to a task during it.
  • Often the real problem is that we don’t give ourselves enough time to do what we say we will. By timeboxing “you” time and faithfully following through, we keep the promises we make to ourselves. (55)


9) Hack Back External Triggers

  • defend your focus
  • send fewer emails
  • Spend less time in meetings
  • get in and out of group chats at scheduled times
  • turn off desktop and mobile notifications.
  • Triggers aren’t always harmful. They’re simply tools. “We must ask ourselves: Is this trigger serving me, or am I serving it? Then we can hack back the external triggers that don’t serve us.” (72)
  • The more we respond to external triggers, the more we train our brain in a never-ending stimulus–response loop. We condition ourselves to respond instantly. Soon, it feels impossible to do what we’ve planned because we’re constantly reacting to external triggers instead of attending to what’s in front of us. (70)

Defend your focus

  • Use some kind of sign, signal or device to make it clear to other people when you are engaged, and do not want to be interrupted.


  • Total Time spent on email per day (T) is a function of the number of messages received (n) multiplied by the average time (t) spent per message:
    • T = n × t
  • To reduce the total amount of time we spend on email per day, we need to address both the n and t variables.

Spend less time (t)

  • Reduce the time you spend checking email by scheduling time to process them in batches (once or twice a day). It’s more efficient and less stressful to process your emails in batches. Stop rechecking email constantly throughout the day.
  • Spend less time on each message by only touching an email twice. The first time you open an email, label it by when it needs a response. Respond to that email for the 2nd (and last) time you open it during the assigned response time.

Send fewer emails (n):

  • Schedule regular office hours to address complex issues in person to avoid misunderstanding.
  • Delay when messages are sent
  • Unsubscribe from irrelevant newsletters, marketing emails, and other time-wasting messages


  • Reduce the number of unnecessary meetings in the workplace by requiring agendas and briefs ahead of time (i.e. make it harder to schedule meetings).

Hack Back Group Chat

  • Treat group chat like a sauna. Get in and get out. It’s unhealthy to stay too long. Schedule time in your day to catch up on group chats, just as you would for any other task in your timeboxed calendar. Don’t keep continually checking in.

Four Steps To Hacking Back Your Smartphone

  • Remove
  • Remove apps we no longer use or need.
  • Uninstall apps that don’t align with your values.
    • e.g. keep apps for learning, health, & fitness
    • e.g. remove news apps and games
  • Replace
    • Replace when and where you use problematic services. Shift distracting apps from your phone to your desktop. Just because your phone can do everything doesn’t mean it should.
    • Remove distracting apps like Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram etc, from your smartphone, and check them on your desktop or laptop computer instead.
    • Use a wrist watch or analog clock so you don’t need to look at your phone to check the time.
    • Set aside a timeboxed part of your schedule to check social media.
  • Rearrange
    • Aim to make your phone’s home screen less cluttered and distracting.
    • When you unlock your phone, there should be nothing immediately visible on the home screen that is able to pull you away from traction
    • Put only the most primary, less distracting apps on the home screen.
    • Move any distracting apps away from your home screen.

Essential Home Screen

    • Sort your apps into 3 categories: “Primary Tools,” “Aspirations,” and “Slot Machines.”
      • Primary Tools “help you accomplish defined tasks that you rely on frequently: getting a ride, finding a location, adding an appointment. There should be no more than five or six.” pg. 93,
      • Aspirations “the things you want to spend time doing: meditation, yoga, exercise, reading books, or listening to podcasts.” pg. 93
      • Slot Machines as “the apps that you open and get lost in: email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.” pg. 93
    • Rearrange your phone’s home screen so it only displays your Primary Tools and your Aspirations.
    • Instead of swiping from screen to screen to find an app you need, use the phone’s built-in search function more often to reduce your chances of bumping into a distracting app.
  • Reclaim
    • Adjust each app’s individual notification permissions to your preferences.
    • Be very selective about which apps can send you alerts and notifications.
    • Become familiar with your phone’s Do Not Disturb features (Apple iPhone) and customize them to eliminate unhelpful external triggers, notifications, alerts, banners, sounds, etc


  • Clutter imposes a psychological toll on your attention. Clean your desktop. Delete obsolete files, folders, icons, etc. Create a good filing system, and regularly file things away. Don’t let things pile up on your desktop screen.
  • Disable all desktop notifications to ensure that various unhelpful external triggers (like new message alerts) can no longer interrupt you when doing focused work.

Online Articles

  • Online articles are full of potentially distracting external triggers. You may end up with multiple open tabs that pull you off-track, and suck you down into a time-wasting rabbithole.
  • Save interesting online content to read later by using an app like Pocket or InstaPaper, or any other Read-it-Later service.

How to Use Pocket

  • Install an app called Pocket on your phone, along with its browser extension on your laptop.
  • Click the Pocket extension button in your browser every time you see an article you’d like to read.
  • Pocket then pulls the text from the web page and saves it (without ads and any other superfluous content) to the app on my phone. (101)
  • Timebox your article reading time, i.e. make time in your schedule to read your saved articles.
  • You can also pair your article reading with other activities such as taking a walk or working out (using the speech to text audio function many read-it-later apps have)


  • Feeds, especially social media feeds, take advantage of the human penchant for novelty, and are designed to keep you engaged and constantly scrolling.

Take Back Control


    • Use free browser extensions like News Feed Eradicator for Facebook (replaces the feed with an inspirational quote), and Newsfeed Burner (blocks the feed on Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube) to remove the feed and use the social media services more mindfully.


    • YouTube deploys similar psychological hacks to keep us watching.
      • suggested videos and ads along the side of the screen
    • Use free browser extensions like DF (Distraction Free)Tube to remove the suggested videos so you can watch only what you want to watch without being tempted down a rabbithole of algorithmic suggestions
    • I allocate time on my calendar to check Facebook almost every day, but without the unwanted external triggers in the News Feed to tempt me down a rabbit hole of frivolity; I’m in and out in less than fifteen minutes. (105)
    • By avoiding the feed, I’m much more likely to use social media mindfully while still allowing time to connect with others proactively. (106)

10) Prevent Distractions with Pacts

  • Plan for when you’re likely to get distracted,
  • Make unwanted behaviors more difficult
  • Give yourself a label/self-identity. Call yourself “indistractable.”
  • Pacts harness the power of precommitments, which are agreements we make when we’re clear headed and are intended to make us less likely to act against our own best interests later.
  • Precommitments remove a future choice in order to overcome our impulsivity and help us stick with decisions we have made in advance. They create a constraint intended to help us avoid distraction in the future.
  • A “Ulysses Pact” is an example of a precommitment. In Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses resists the Sirens’ song by making a precommitment and successfully avoiding the distraction.
  • Examples include setting up advanced healthcare directives in case we later become incapacitated, investing money in retirement accounts with early withdrawal penalties, pre-paying for gym memberships, getting married, etc.
  • Precommitments should only be used after the other three indistractable strategies have already been applied. Don’t skip the first three steps. (111)

3 Types Of Pacts:

  • Effort Pacts
    • An effort pact makes an unwanted behavior or distraction more difficult to do.
    • Adding a bit of additional effort forces us to ask if a distraction is worth it. (112)
  • Price Pacts
    • A price pact imposes a cost or price to unwanted behavior. They assign a cost to distraction. By making unwanted behaviors expensive to do, we are less likely to do it. There’s now a real cost or price to pay for distraction, so we tend to stick with our decisions to avoid the pain of losing money.
    • Price pacts take advantage of a human behavioral quirk: We hate to lose more than we love to win. (Loss Aversion Theory)
    • “…People are typically more motivated to avoid losses than to seek gains.” (116)
  • Identity Pacts
    • The goal of an identity pact is to commit to a self-image that aligns with our preferred behavior. Identity greatly influences our behavior. People tend to align their actions with how they see themselves. If a distraction conflicts with our self-image about who we are, we’re less likely to do it.
    • For instance, we behave differently if we identify as a runner, versus simply someone who runs. Having an identity as a runner makes you more likely to engage in running related activities.
    • By aligning our behaviors to our identity, we make choices based on who we believe we are. (122)
    • Label yourself with the behavior you wish to achieve.
      • Call yourself “indistractable”; that identity will empower you to behave in ways that aligns with someone who is indistractable.

Reinforce Your Identity by:

  • Sharing with others
    • Teaching others solidifies your commitment, even if you’re still struggling.
  • Adopting rituals
    • Repeating mantras, keeping a timeboxed schedule, or performing other routines reinforces your identity and influences your future actions.
    • Evidence of the importance of rituals supports the idea of keeping a regular schedule, (124); The more we stick to our plans, the more we reinforce our identity. (124)
  • By making identity pacts, we are able to build the self-image we want. (125)
  • Though we often assume our identity is fixed, our self-image is, in fact, flexible and is nothing more than a construct in our minds. It’s a habit of thought, and, as we’ve learned, habits can be changed for the better. (125)

11) Reduce Distraction at Work

  • Job Strain: found in environments where employees were expected to meet high expectations yet lacked the ability to control the outcomes. (128)
  • Effort-Reward Imbalance: in which workers don’t see much return for their hard work, be it through increased pay or recognition (128)
  • Job strain and effort-reward imbalance both stem from an employee’s lack of control.
    • Jobs where employees have high expectations and low control have been shown to lead to symptoms of depression.
  • Technology facilitates a vicious “cycle of responsiveness,” but the actual root cause is a dysfunctional work culture, which is the real culprit of many distractions in the workplace.
  • Psychological safety is “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.” (135)

Tactical Techniques to Reduce Workplace Distraction

  • Companies should strive to develop an environment of psychological safety, and provide a place for open and honest discussions about important issues and concerns
  • Leaders should exemplify the importance of doing focused work.
  • Knowing that your voice matters, and that you’re not stuck in an uncaring, unchangeable machine has a positive impact on well-being. (135)

12) Help Kids Manage Distraction

  • Distractions have always been with us. New technologies (books, radio, television, video games, etc) have often been followed by moral panics.
  • It’s far too easy to blame behavior parents don’t like on something other than themselves. But blaming devices is a surface-level answer to a deep question.
  • Technology isn’t evil. If used correctly, it can even be beneficial. Balance and moderation in the use of technology is essential.
  • The human psyche needs 3 things to thrive: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
  • If any of these psychological nutrients are lacking for a child, they become more prone to anxiety, restlessness, and distraction. When children’s psychological needs aren’t met in the real world, they go looking for satisfaction elsewhere, often in virtual environments.

Tactical Techniques to Raise Indistractable Children

  • Stop deflecting blame for our children’s behavior. We need to stop making convenient excuses for ourselves and our children.
  • Help kids to take responsibility for their choices. Involve them in setting family routines, schedules, and commitments.
  • Encourage unstructured play to help teach focus and build social skills.
  • Regularly schedule device-free time with your children, at meal-times and beyond, to engage in some activity together.
  • The four-part Indistractable Model is valuable for kids as well. Teach children to:
    • understand their internal triggers
    • make time for traction
    • manage external triggers
    • make their own pacts

13) Reduce Distraction in Relationships

  • Distractions hurt our relationships; they prevent us from being fully present and engaged with important people in our lives.
  • Distraction is a form of social contagion.
  • One person’s use of a device can trigger a cascade among others.
  • Interruptions prevent us from being able to form close social bonds.

Tactical Tips to Be an Indistractable Friend/Partner

  • Make time for your friends.
    • Develop new social norms among your friends that make it unacceptable to use devices in social situations.
    • One phrase you can use to call out a distracted friend: “I see you’re on your phone. Is everything OK?” (170)
    • Spend quality time with your friends.
  • Make time for togetherness with your spouse or partner.
    • Remove devices from your bedroom.
    • Purchase a device to automatically turn off the internet at specific times at night.

⭐ Recommended Reading

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