Review: Indistractable

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A friend advised me to get the book Indistractable by Nir Eyal, a guide to productivity and effectiveness. My take is you should buy it and read it.

There, done. Ok, not quite, but still – this is the rare “must buy” book on productivity that warrants a mention.

Eyal’s idea is that we have two things in our life – Traction (gets us where we want to go) and Distraction (yanks us away from where we want to go). By understanding what triggers our behavior, how to avoid distraction, and how to address specific life concerns, we can be more effective and happier. This summary doesn’t address just how far Eyal goes.

Eyal acknowledges that humans aren’t made to be happy all the time – discomfort and disatisfaction is part of evolution. With this semi-Buddhist acknowledgement of suffering, he’s able to zero in on why we’re distracted – discomfort. We get distracted as something feels bad.

Knowing this is powerful, because then we don’t have to chase the distraction. We can see it, acknowledge it, sit with it, understand it, and avoid feeling bad about it. We can give ourself some compassion and then figure how to adapt productively.

It may seem simple, but ask yourself how many distractions you have that are just trying to avoid something because you feel bad. Probably a lot.

With this thesis Eyal explores triggers that set us off, how we build Traction, and then specific triggers and parts of our lives to address. It’s hard to explain all his ideas or do him justice without recapping the entire book.

Fortunately he’s not just analysis and advice. He gives serious methods and techniques to use, often highly specific ones, to address Distractions. From keeping a distraction diary to see what’s happening to visual reminders, he’s got something for everything. Trust me they work.

I don’t just say they work because I’m using them (though I am), I’m saying that because some of them are things I’ve seen or used before. I was surprised to see some of his advice were things I’d used anyway, with success. That only further confirmed he knows what he’s talking about.

Finally, one of the best parts of the book is that unlike some books, I found you can get use out of either the text format (which I got) and the audio format (which I ended up listening to during workouts). Rare is the advice that works in both formats, but there you go.

So, simply, buy it, use it. You’ll find it gels with all the advice I’ve given very well.

Steven Savage