Indistractable by Nir Eyal: Summary & Notes

Rated: 5/10

Available at: Amazon

ISBN: 194883653X

Related: Deep Work, Atomic Habits

Summary

A book about how to reduce the impact of distractions throughout your life, with tactical advice on reducing the impact of your phone, how to better focus at work, how to raise ‘indistractable’ children, and more.

The book has a wide scope, covering a combination of habit advice and reducing the impact of devices in our lives. 

Unfortunately, I think this is to the detriment of depth and clarity on each subject, and I didn’t find much new content.

Similar to Digital Minimalism, I’m not sure this warranted a full book.

Skim this and Digital Minimalism for the tactical advice. Read Atomic Habits for building lasting habits.

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Notes

Introduction

  • Chapter 1: Living the life you want requires not only doing the right things but also avoiding doing the wrong things.
  • The problem is deeper than tech, and the solution isn’t about being a Luddite.
  • Chapter 2: Traction moves you toward what you really want while distraction moves you further away. Being indistractable means striving to do what you say you will do.

Part 1: Master Internal Trigger

  • Chapter 3: Motivation is a desire to escape discomfort. Find the root causes of distraction rather than proximate ones. Distractions are a result of us seeking to relieve discomfort.
  • Chapter 4: Learn to deal with discomfort rather than attempting to escape it with distraction.
  • Satisfaction is temporary due to 4 things: boredom, negativity bias, rumination (tendency to keep thinking about bad experiences), and hedonic adaptation (tendency to return to baseline level of satisfaction, no matter what happens to us in life.
  • Chapter 5: Stop trying to actively suppress urges—this only makes them stronger. Instead, observe and allow them to dissolve.
  • Chapter 6: Reimagine the internal trigger. Look for the negative emotion preceding the distraction, write it down, and pay attention to the negative sensation with curiosity rather than contempt.
  • Beware liminal moments: transitions from one thing to another throughout our days.
  • Use the “ten-minute rule”. If you want to check your phone, tell yourself it’s fine to give in, but note right now–in ten minutes.
  • Chapter 7: Reimagine the task. Turn it into play by paying “foolish, even absurd” attention to it. Deliberately look for novelty.
  • Chapter 8: Reimagine your temperament. Self-talk matters. Your willpower runs out only if you believe it does. Avoid labeling yourself as “easily distracted” or having an “addictive personality.”
  • Willpower ebbs and flows in response to what’s happening to us and how we feel, like emotions.
  • Talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend.

Part 2: Make Time for Traction

  • Chapter 9: Turn your values into time. Timebox your day by creating a schedule template.
  • Book time in your calendar each week to reflect and refine your calendar to reduce distraction.
  • Chapter 10: Schedule time for yourself. Plan the inputs and the outcome will follow.
  • Chapter 11: Schedule time for important relationships. Include household responsibilities as well as time for people you love. Put regular time on your schedule for friends.
  • Chapter 12: Sync your schedule with stakeholders.

Part 3: Hack Back External Triggers

  • Chapter 13: Of each external trigger, ask: “Is this trigger serving me, or am I serving it?” Does it lead to traction or distraction?
  • Chapter 14: Defend your focus. Signal when you do not want to be interrupted.
  • Chapter 15: To get fewer emails, send fewer emails. When you check email, tag each message with when it needs a reply and respond at a scheduled time.
  • Chapter 16: When it comes to group chat, get in and out at scheduled times. Only involve who in necessary and don’t use it to think out loud.
  • Chapter 17: Make it harder to call meetings. No agenda, no meeting. Meetings are for consensus building rather than problem solving. Leave devices outside the conference room except for one laptop.
  • Chapter 18: Use distracting apps on your desktop rather than your phone. Organize apps and manage notifications. Turn on “Do Not Disturb.”
  • Chapter 19: Turn off desktop notifications. Remove potential distractions from your workspace.
  • Chapter 20: Save online articles in Pocket to read or listen to at a scheduled time. Use “multichannel multitasking.”
  • Chapter 21: Use browser extensions that give you the benefits of social media without all the distractions. Links to other tools are at: NirAndFar.com/Indistractable.

Part 4: Prevent Distraction With Pacts

  • Chapter 22: The antidote to impulsiveness is forethought. Plan ahead for when you’re likely to get distracted.
  • Chapter 23: Use effort pacts to make unwanted behaviors more difficult.
  • Chapter 24: Use a price pact to make getting distracted expensive.
  • Chapter 25: Use identity pacts as a precommitment to a self-image. Call yourself “indistractable.”

Part 5: How to Make Your Workplace Indistractable

  • Chapter 26: An “always on” culture drives people crazy.
  • Chapter 27: Tech overuse at work is a symptom of dysfunctional company culture. The root cause is a culture lacking “psychological safety.”
  • Chapter 28: To create a culture that values doing focused work, start small and find ways to facilitate an open dialogue among colleagues about the problem.

Part 6: How to Raise Indistractable Children (And Why We All Need Psychological Nutrients)

  • Chapter 29: Find the root causes of why children get distracted. Teach them the four-part indistractable model.
  • Tech panics are nothing new, and tech isn’t evil.
  • Chapter 30: Make sure children’s psychological needs are met. All people need to feel a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. If kids don’t get their needs met in the real world, they look to fulfill them online.
  • Chapter 31: Teach children to timebox their schedule. Let them make time for activities they enjoy, including time online.
  • Chapter 32: Work with your children to remove unhelpful external triggers. Make sure they know how to turn off distracting triggers, and don’t become a distracting external trigger yourself.
  • Chapter 33: Help your kids make pacts and make sure they know managing distraction is their responsibility. Teach them that distraction is a solvable problem and that becoming indistractable is a lifelong skill.

Part 7: How to Have Indistractable Relationships

  • Chapter 34: When someone uses a device in a social setting, ask, “I see you’re on your phone. Is everything OK?”
  • Chapter 35: Remove devices from your bedroom and have the internet automatically turn off at a specific time.