Book Review – Indistractable by Nir Eyal


It is indeed exciting experience to read this book from author who wrote book “Hooked”.

Being indistractable according to Author is about understanding the real reasons why we do things against our best interests.

The Five Big Ideas elaborated/ discussed in the books are,

1. Being indistractable is about learning to channel master feelings of dissatisfaction pto make things better.

2. To master internal triggers, learn how to deal with discomfort, observe urges and allow them to dissolve, and reimagine the trigger or task. 

3. To make time for traction, turn your values into time, schedule time for yourself and important relationships, and sync your calendar with stakeholders.

4. To hack back external triggers, defend your focus, send fewer emails, get in and out of group chats at scheduled times, and turn off desktop and mobile notifications.

5. To prevent distractions with pacts, plan for when you’re likely to get distracted, make unwanted behaviours more difficult, and call yourself “indistractable.”

Master Internal Triggers

We can be indistractable by learning and adopting four key strategies:

1. Mastering internal triggers; 

2. Making time for traction;

3. Hacking back external triggers; and 

4. Preventing distractions with pacts

Four psychological factors make satisfaction temporary:

1. Boredom;

2. Negativity bias;

3. Rumination; and

4. Hedonic adaptation. 

According to Eyal being indistractable is not about escaping from discomfort through distraction. Rather, it’s about learning to channel master feelings of dissatisfaction to make things better.

Resisting an urge can, ironically, trigger rumination and make the desire grow stronger.

As author explains further, we can manage distractions that originate from within by thinking differently about the trigger, the task, and our temperament. Furthermore, by reimagining an uncomfortable internal trigger, such as an urge to google something, we can disarm it. 

The following four steps help handle intrusive thoughts:

1. Look for the emotion preceding distraction;

2. Write down the internal trigger;

3. Explore the negative sensation with curiosity instead of contempt; and

4. Be cautious during liminal moments. 

To reimagine your temperament, Eyal advises:

1. Avoiding believing willpower is limited;

2. Labelling yourself as having self-control; and

3. Practicing self-compassion.

Make Time for Traction

To make traction, we need to examine how we spent our time. One effective way to make time for traction is through “timeboxing” which involves setting an “implementation intention.”

Eyal recommends revising your schedule regularly but committing to it once it’s set. Once you schedule time for yourself, synchronize your calendar with stakeholders to ensure they don’t distract you with unneeded tasks.

Hack Back External Triggers

Contrary to belief, external triggers aren’t always harmful. Of each external trigger, ask: “Is this trigger serving me, or am I serving it?” Does it lead to traction or distraction? If it’s the former, it serves you.

“Time spent communicating should not come at the sacrifice of time spent concentrating,” writes Eyal.

To minimize mobile distractions, Eyal suggests:

1. Uninstalling the apps you no longer need;

2. Shifting where and when you use potentially distracting apps to your desktop instead of your phone;

3. Moving any apps that may trigger mindless checking from your phone’s home screen; and

4. Changing the notification settings for each app.

When reading online, save interesting content for later using an app like Pocket. Or, use “multichannel multitasking,” like listening to articles while working out.

Prevent Distraction with Pacts

Pre-commitments keep you from feeling distracted by removing a future choice. However, they should only be used after the other three indistractable strategies have already been applied.

There are three kinds of pre-commitment you can use to keep yourself on track:

1. Effort pact;

2. Price pacts; and 

3. Identity pacts.

An effort pact prevents distraction by making unwanted behaviours difficult to do. For example, using a Chrome extension like StayFocused to block unwanted

A price pact adds a cost to getting distracted. However, you need to be aware of the following three pitfalls:

1. Price pacts aren’t good at changing behaviours with external triggers you can’t escape (e.g. nail biting);

2. Price pacts should only be used for short tasks; and

3. Entering a price pact is scary.

An identity pact is a precommitment to a self-image.

Further author deliberates on “How to make your workplace indistractable” wherein important point is that “An ‘always on’ culture drives people crazy” and sometime overuse of technology creates major issue.

In sections “How to Raise Indistractable Children” and “How to have Indistractable Relationships”, important tricks are shared by Author.

While in today’s techno savvy and connected world it is indeed difficult to have planned in distraction, however working towards it will navigate us towards “choosing our life

Leave a Reply