Nir Eyal is the bestselling author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products (2014) and Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life (2019). He started and sold two tech companies and he has taught at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Design. He has been studying and writing about behavior design and habit formation for many years and he became fascinated with how technology persuades people to do things they normally wouldn’t do. This is ultimately what led him to write his bestselling booked Hooked.
Nir’s newest book came about as a result of his search for a solution to a problem he had with staying focused and getting things done. Nir says, “Hooked is about building good habits, Indistractable is about how do we break bad habits.”
Being distracted is not a new problem. These days we tend to place the blame on technology, social media, smartphones, etc… But as Nir points out, “People have always been finding ways to escape boredom. So it’s not a new [being distracted]… I don’t think that it’s necessarily a technology problem. I think that what’s changed is that if you are looking to escape, it’s easier than ever, that you can find that escape because it’s just sitting here in our pocket.”
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Since the beginning of time people have been distracted by the news, by gossip, sports, movies and so on. Technology is something to turn to when we want to be distracted, but it is not the cause of our problem.
For example, during Nir’s 5 years of research for the book he found that one of the root causes for distraction in the workplace is a toxic corporate culture. When people are unhappy at work, when they feel like they have no say, when they feel like the work they do is meaningless they turn to distractions, and a lot of times they not only distract themselves, but they distract everyone around them.
Nir says that there are three attributes of companies who have an indistractable workplace culture. They are:
They give people psychological safety
They give employees a forum to talk about problems and issues
The management exemplifies what it means to be indistractable
“When people do work in these type of toxic work environments with high expectations and low controls, the reason they get more distracted and get less done is because of that workplace culture that, in fact, by giving people agency and control over their time, ironically, they become way more productive because what are we doing, we’re increasing their agency, that characteristic that’s missing, the low control.
Now we have high expectation with high control. That’s a great work environment…The first step is to lead by example, follow the tactics in the book. There are hundreds of things that you can do, one at a time, you don’t have to do everything all at once, but one at a time, you can start instituting these practices to become indistractable yourself to lead by example.”
What you will learn:
A look at the root cause of distraction in the workplace (hint: it’s not technology)
The three qualities of a company that has an indistractable workplace culture
How to balance important things and urgent things
Four steps to becoming indistractable
Why Nir hates to-do lists
Nir’s simple advice for leaders
How to overcome distractions in the workplace