Indistractable by Nir Eyal

The thing about new age authors is that rather than harping on fancy themes and the hoi polloi, they focus on everyday matters that impact common people. A large number of authors have based their works on the human psyche and hence these books become relevant for the times and the ideas much more practical. Take Nir Eyal’s book ‘Indistractable’. His earlier book ‘Hooked- how to build habit-forming products’ was a bestseller and hence the next one was eagerly awaited. His work required him to focus on the psychology of users and it kindled an interest in the human psyche in general.



Author : Nir Eyal
Originally Published :2019
Publication :BenBella Books
Pages : 300
Genre(s) : Non-Fiction, Self-Help, Time Management

Indistractable was published in 2019, a good 5 years after the first one. Its subtitle says ‘How to control your attention and choose your life’. Well, attention, it is that keeps losing from us all the time, isn’t it? The book takes over from where the earlier one (Hooked) left, ie. talking about habits. Eyal emphasizes how our habits take away our sense of judgment about the time we spend on doing things that are not related to our core work. Like binge-watching web series. Or eating sweets. Or checking the emails and messages that swarm over our devices every moment. In an urge not to be left out, we lose out on magical moments in our lives that are happening right before us. We get distracted, and very easily at that.

What distracts us

We are fond of blaming technology for the distractions- the gadgets and messages. But try to remove them altogether and you’re still distracted. By the books on the shelves, by the sounds of the vehicles passing by or worse, by your own thoughts that keep floating. So as Eyal says, it’s not doing the right things that is enough, but not doing the wrong things is equally important.

Eyal correctly points out that most people do not realize that distraction is always an unhealthy escape from reality, from discomfort, things that you really don’t want to focus upon. Anything that stops discomfort from persisting, is potentially addictive and hence we can’t stop at that. Coming back to what distracts us then- everything that allows us to escape from discomfort- shopping, celebrity gossip, food, tv shows, messages, the street overflowing with traffic. Except for the work, we’re supposed to do. Managing distractions is as simple as managing time.

So can mental abstinence work? Not really. Because Eyal tells us that the more we resist, we get attracted more till we finally give in. It’s time to ‘reimagine the mental triggers’.

What next? The second step by Eyal is to make time for traction. What you do with your time decides what you become in life. Boxing in time for yourself, work and relationships is crucial but more important is making time for things that just don’t make the cut in the list.

Hacking back external triggers comes next. The brain which is trained to respond to stimulus does its work dutifully. Even when not required to.

Seeks help to avoid distractions. Create distraction-free zones. Regulate lights. Use apps that block out other apps on your computer while you’re working on a task.

Make a pact with yourself and reward if you keep your word. Sounds easy? Till the next distraction arrives. There ought to be no scope to cheat in any way.

This books allows us a peek into something we all do but feel embarrassed to admit- that we do get distracted easily and frequently. It shows us the triggers and the ways and means to deal with them You cannot eliminate distractions, but you can definitely control the way you respond to them.

Key takeaways

  1. Distractions affect our work and relationships in a big way
  2. Habits that negatively impact our lives can also be changed to positively help us from staying away from distractions. Make it a habit to focus, to concentrate and not to give in to temptations.
  3. Being aware that you can and will be distracted, the root causes and the toll it will take can help restrain your mind
  4. More work and better work gets done when you’re focused. It’s not just what you do right but also what you avoid doing that’s wrong also matters

Why I recommend this book

Because for one, it opens your eyes to some harsh realities that you refuse to admit- that you do get distracted and that it does impact your work and relationships. You cannot give justice to two things at a time and more often than not, the thing that distracts you wins.

I would urge you read and jot down things that distract you. Have a plan for dealing with them like you would in risk mitigation (yeah, I mean it). When you put everything on paper, you realize how much time is being wasted in responding to distractions. It’s all a mind’s game after all. Mind, which is a good servant but a poor master.

If you are looking for a book with actionable advice on improving your time management skills, this is the one you should go get next.

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