I review Nir Eyal’s Indistractable, a quick read that took me less than a week. I found valuable advice for improving my concentration and attention, and I’m excited to apply some of these ideas to my life.
Being indistractable means striving to do what you say you will do.
This, more than any other sentence in the book, is the most important lesson. Every action that we take can contribute to what we’re trying to do, or detract from it. (Some are neutral, I guess, but I think that’s rare.)
Another key word is “striving.” Being indistractable doesn’t mean never being distracted, despite what the word suggests. Instead, it means consciously removing triggers, internal and external, and understanding how you react (and don’t react) to them.
Above all, it means being intentional about your time (there’s an excellent chapter on values-based scheduling) and being honest about how you spend it. Despite Eyal’s disdain for mindfulness, this goes hand-in-hand with being mindful about your actions.
I hope to apply some of Eyal’s advice by timeboxing my schedule a little bit more. Each morning, I will try to create a plan for that day. I prefer to have a set of (reasonable) goals, instead of strictly timeboxing a schedule.
My plan today was to finish #republic and Indistractable (which had around 50 and 30 pages left, respectively), and then to play Pokemon Shield. I stuck to it, and once this post is done I’ll make dinner and relax for the rest of the evening.
Tomorrow, I’ll read a paper and start another book. And then I’ll probably play Super Mario Odyssey, which (embarrassingly!) I still haven’t finished.
I enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, made easier by the bite-sized chapters and the “remember this” cards at the end of each section.
The section on removing external triggers, while understandably essential to the rest of the book, felt out of place. Eyal went from discussing psychology and human attention to listing strategies for reducing the time you spend on emails or setting ‘Do Not Disturb’ on iOS.
But that’s fine. I’m sure others will find that advice useful, and I can’t fault a book for not precisely aligning with what I was hoping to get out of it.
My other major critique is that Eyal is too kind on Silicon Valley. He’s right that they’re not solely to blame for our distractability, but they’ve certainly contributed. Recognizing that popular apps and websites are designed to keep us hooked is an important step in fighting back.
With those caveats aside, I can confidently say that I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t too difficult to read, and I think Eyal struck the right balance of drawing upon relevant research without bogging the casual reader down with it. This was good.