Distraction vs traction


For a while I used to think that the cure to a distracted mind is to switch off all the possible online notifications / tools and try to focus on bigger blocks of time when I can get work done. Web surfing and chats/emails are my biggest attention issue since I don’t get other to hangout with other mind hackers - kids, a pet or noisy work environment.

This morning, while working out, instead of the usual Spotify music playlist I decided to try combining the exercise routine with podcasts. I listened to the SPI interview with Nir Eyal focused on his new book “Indistractable - How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” and found it quite interesting.

The key take-away for me is that technology is not the one to blame, it’s our own internal triggers that take our attention away and make us seek “quick-pain reliefs”. Technology - from fire to written word, radio and later TV and Internet, were used to leverage internal human flaws to package entertainment experiences.

Nir suggest 4 steps to get back your attention:

  1. Mastering internal triggers (find what creates discomfort and takes your attention away);

  2. Make time for traction (your calendar should reflect your values);

  3. Hack external triggers (Devices, co-workers, work environment);

  4. Create pacts to maintain attention (put in place systems and commitments to keep your discipline running)

You can listen to the episode here.