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As a person who values hard work, competence, and personal growth, I have studied lots of books, articles, and other media during my early adult years. I've read all the way from the classic works to the latest and greatest. Indistractable is the first book that gave me the aha moment about distraction: it starts from within.
I love technology, but I don't love when it keeps me from doing work that matters to me. In the past, I have taken drastic, Luddite measures to control its grasp on my attention. These techniques worked for a while, but eventually I always got back to the same place: my mind and my attention wanted to be elsewhere, not on the task at hand.
In Indistractable, Nir goes straight to the root of the problem of distraction. It hurts to read that the problem is you, but it's important to hear. For me, this was a "why didn't anyone ever tell me this before?" kind of moment. My struggles finally made sense.
Nir goes on to methodically lay out a model for managing both internal and external distractions. While the book does have some specific tactics, the most important takeaways for me were timeless messages. Managing distraction is more about managing pain and emotion ("time management is pain management", as one chapter says) than managing the notification settings on your iPhone. Sure, that helps, but not if you can't manage the pain and discomfort that's keeping you from doing what you care about.
While I'm still a work in progress, I have noticed a distinct difference in my attention and work in the month since I finished reading the book. Among many examples of improvement, what stands out to me is a new ability to catch myself right when an internal trigger for distraction goes off in my mind. Indistractable gave me an extra fraction of a second to catch myself, refocus, and get back to doing what I say I will do. That's subtle but important: in my case, it might be the difference that finally lets me keep the promises I've made to myself and others.
The first part tells you all about the problem. Often that's just constant repetition but this author thankfully avoided that trap, and instead presents original research and tons of interesting material about distraction, the nature of it, and why the human condition tends toward distraction. Good research and good writing, which gives us a number of clues as to how we can fight distraction or at least learn to live with it and keep it out of the way.
The second part is actionable advice, some new and some more on the classic side.
What's new? An interesting chapter on how culture and distraction are related in the office environment, with a case study on what to do about it. Another interesting chapter on how to train your children to be less susceptible to distraction.
The classic advice is what you'd expect: ways to tame social media and other electronic distractions, and so on. That's not new but it's certainly valid, and is repeated in the context of the research presented in the first part of the book, giving it a fresh aspect.
The idea of "pacts" is also introduced. These are often called "contracts" in other literature on this topic, but the idea is the same. You make a more or less formal commitment to do/not do something, with the idea that this will give you impetus to make improvements. Verdicts are mixed on this; it works for some people, not as much for others.
However, there is one type of pact introduced that I think is most unfortunate in that it unnecessarily reduces the credibility of an otherwise very credible treatise. The idea, in essence, is to make a money pact. If you fail to keep the terms of the pact, you have to set fire to a hundred dollar bill.
I've seen this idea before, and it just doesn't make sense. You haven't got the willpower to avoid distraction on your own, but you've got the willpower to burn a hundred dollar bill?
And therein is the one failing of the book: it never really pinpoints willpower as the problem with distraction. I think this was a bit of a missed opportunity. With all of the author's fine research, he could have attacked this issue head on.
So what's my bottom line on this book? It's absolutely worth reading and will give you tremendous insight into the nature of distraction. It will give you a plethora of ideas and techniques to help you avoid distraction (just ignore the money-burning thing), and those ideas are demonstrated in a number of environments. I'll go four stars on this book.
(This review revised 04 October 2019 as I believe my original review was too severe.)
Top international reviews
In today's world, everyone is using technology in some way or form. The problem people have is that Technology ends up using them. Nir Eyal knows how technology can be used to capture people's attention. His previous book - Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products is still a #1 Best Seller in the Amazon.co.uk Sales and Marketing Research Category even though it was written in 2014. It shows people how they can build habit-forming products and covers some great stuff on user psychology.
Whilst this is great for companies who want people to consume their products, it is not great for the individuals who just can't navigate this world of distraction. Enter, this book which is there to support in building skills that help become indistractable. This becomes and extremely important skill which people need but they haven't quite figured out how to.
This book has a different take and doesn't advocate a digital detox or even mindfulness and meditation. It helps you actually understand the triggers causing your behaviour and provides a very realistic way of being able to set the path to becoming indistractable.
The core of the book discusses the key methods of becoming Indistractable:
- Master INTERNAL Triggers
- Make time for TRACTION
- Hack Back EXTERNAL Triggers
- Prevent DISTRACTION with Pacts
Each chapter is easy to read and really helps you understand the key concepts.
For me, a very powerful concept was actually getting to the root cause of distraction. Sometimes we blame the devices. Nir helps us identify the key differences between Root causes and Proximate causes. This becomes really important to help understand the distraction. It's all about being able to deal with the distraction from within. I found that this book has explained this much better than other books have around this subject.
He goes into concepts such as understanding your values and whether your calendar reflects those values. Turning your values into time becomes really important and you then control the inputs and not the outcomes
There are lots and lots of useful ways to hack external triggers, whether it is work interruptions, email, chat, meetings, phones, computers, online articles or feeds.
There is a whole concept around pacts to prevent distractions.
The book also covers some very useful ways of raising indistractable children. This would also be very powerful for those with children who want to support them in not getting consumed in this world of distraction.
This is a great, practical book that can help support you in building the skill to be indistractable. You can't just become that by reading the book but the hacks and activities it provides will help you map out that journey. It comes with companion online resources like a workbook which asks very powerful questions and helps you embed this learning and thinking.
I highly recommend this book as something that will reclaim your focus and attention and help you navigate this world of distraction.
I am a chef, try telling hungry customers that they have to wait because "you need to focus on something" I haven't tried but I can tell you it wouldn't go down well with them or your seniors and I am sure it's the same in other industries. Like every other book I have partially read (then gave up on for similar reasons) similar to this it MAYBE works if you work in a office or similar environment but for most probably useless or offers limited benifits in my opinion.
The main message is: figure out what you want to do, schedule that, and don't be distracted.
What you want to do can include critical tasks like taking medicine, necessary tasks like writing a report, or fun tasks like watching a movie. But when you are doing that task, do not get distracted by other thoughts or triggers. For example, don't browse social media at work, don't write work emails at a family dinner - don't even think about those things in the wrong setting.
He then offers a well organised discussion of things that distract you - your own mind and the world around you. He describes in brief how to deal with these, preferably before they happen. He spends a lot of time on technology and cultural settings and norms.
There is nothing new in this book. But reading it will give you the chance to reflect on how you prioritise your life, how you get distracted, and how you will refocus on what matters. Since the fundamentals of what he writes are probably known to you already, it is the refreshing of your memory and the act of reflecting on your situation as you read that would make the book worth your time. Since the book is short and easy to read, I think reading it was worth my time.
Consider the authors Cal Newport and James Clear for deeper discussions of the value of scheduling our work and how we can create powerful methods to stick to our plans.
What I love most about Indistractible is that it pokes holes in the usual scapegoat excuse we all blame our lack of focus on...technology. Tech isn't the problem. There's something deeper going on. Until you acknowledge that, you'll keep incessantly checking Facebook in search of a temporary escape from life's discomfort.
This is by far the best book I've read on the topic of becoming more productive. Since implementing what I've learned I'm better able to "surf the urge" to check email constantly or mindlessly scroll IG the minute I'm mentally challenged in my work. The strategies inside work both long and short-term and while I've yet to implement all of them, even the shift in mindset that I've had around WHY we're driven to distraction has made a huge difference in my ability to do the work, fight against "the resistance" as Pressfield calls it, and feel good about what I've accomplished at the end of the day.
I strongly recommend this book to all the professional who really wants to work with focus and greater productivity to achieve outstanding results and to enjoy happy life.
I am pleased to report I have not wasted my time & the tips in the book are in application. Thank You.
Overall, I enjoyed it.
Bei SEHR großen Seiten und Zeilenabständen, 35 Kapiteln mit je 3 Seiten unbeschriebenenem Platz und vielen unnötigen Bildern, wäre der gesamte Text auf 120 Seiten PDF zu komprimieren möglich gewesen. Mit den ganzen Produktplazierungen hinterlässt es leider den etwas bitteren Nachgeschmack, dass hier einfach Geld mit verdient werden sollte...
Empfehlenswerter wäre eher eins der Interviews mit Nir Eyal, kompetent ist er ja. Bessere Bücher wären : Irresistible, make it stick, The Art of Learning, Atomic Habits, Essentialism oder jedes Buch über Meditation...
The book is written in a comfortable, flowing style that treats the subject matter with appropriate seriousness without being dry. It is summarizes the concepts well also, so the take home messages are clear and concise.
Overall great book, adds much to the area, and well worth reading. I will be purchasing a physical copy to lend out to my colleagues.