How to be Indistractable in 4 Easy Steps with Nir Eyal

Posted on September 10, 2019

You know one of the most difficult challenges we have in growing our businesses? It’s doing the actual work!

It’s so easy to be distracted. We have so much technology that helps to enable it.

But is it the fault of technology, or do we need to take more responsibility about how we use our time?

We talk to best selling author Nir Eyal about his new upcoming book Indistractable, and how he wants to teach us all to be more productive.

– We cover Nir’s first booked, ‘Hooked’ and how it’s helped to democratize the secrets to creating habit-forming products.

– Nir talks us through his four-step model to be Indistratable and we walk through an example of how to use it.

– And, what can workers do to tune out all of the distractions we encounter working in an office, including Nir’s favorite tech products to help us become Indistractable.


Time Stamped Notes

[3:50] – Distraction is not the result of addictive technology. It’s instead caused by an internal trigger when we’re seeking to escape an uncomfortable emotion.

[5:45] – Nir’s first book, ‘Hooked,’ describes why some technology is exceptional at creating new user habits. He first started researching that topic in 2007 after launching a company at the intersection of gaming and advertising.

The purpose of hooked was to democratize the secrets of creating habit-forming products, so everyone was able to benefit from them.

Forming user habits is an essential component of growth. If you can’t keep users engaged with your product, no amount of new user acquisition will help.

[10:05] – Nir wrote his new book Indistracable because he feels distraction is a problem that’s much bigger than tech. Believing tech is the cause distracts us from the real issue.

[12:50] – Technology will only become an issue for us if we allow it to distract us and don’t create guardrails around how we use it.

[14:20] – When people say they’re addicted to technology, what they mean is they’re overusing it. Using the word ‘addicted’ makes us feel better because it means someone (technology) is doing this to us.

Using the word ‘overuse’ forces us to take responsibility for our actions.

[15:50] – The problem with most technology isn’t that it’s too addictive, it’s that no one cares about it. There are a lot of great companies, with great products, that would make people’s lives better, but those people won’t use them.

[17:35] – The opposite of distraction is traction. Both of these words end in action and are things we do vs. things that happen to us. Traction moves you towards your goal; distraction moves you further away from it.

There are four steps in Nir’s indistractable model:

1. Learn how to manage the internal triggers that cause you to become distracted.

2. Learn how to plan out your time, you can’t call something a distraction if you don’t know what it’s distracting you from.

3. Learn how to manage external triggers – email, meetings, social media apps, etc.

4. Learn how to use technology against itself to stop you from being distracted.

– Nir breaks down why the first thing Scott does in the morning is open Instagram, and why it’s the result of an internal trigger related to loneliness.

[25:00] – He introduces Scott to the ten-minute rule, instead of checking his Instagram, he surfs the urge and eventually the motivation around the internal trigger dissipates.

Scott then needs to add time for traction around his internal trigger. Adding time in his day for Instagram means he is dictating when he checks in on friends, not the app maker.

His third step would be removing all external triggers (notifications) from Instagram on his phone.

Lastly, Scott should plan to foil the distraction by using pacts. For example, he could ensure his iPhone isn’t within reach when he wakes up, i.e., charges it in a different room.

[33:35] – The third leading cause of death in the United States is from prescription errors. People misprescribed the wrong drugs.

Nir talks us through how hospitals solved that problem and how it can help people to be more focused when working in an office.

[37:40] – Creating a work environment that allows people to do focused work should be part of the culture companies want to create for their employees.

[39:30] – Nir gives us some of his favorite tools to block out distractions and to do focused work.


– Nir on Twitter / LinkedIn / Medium
– Kieran on Twitter / LinkedIn / Medium
– Scott on Twitter / Linked / Medium