Nir Eyal Shares How to Focus On Your Work and Ignore Distractions

What you pay attention to is what grows. So if you want to grow your business, being able to focus on your work and ignore distractions is critical to your success. It can also make you happier.

Nir Eyal

Not just because you make more money, but because you are more present in the present moment. A Harvard study found that people spend about 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind wandering usually makes them unhappy.

Do you want to make more money and be happier? Wall Street Journal bestselling author Nir Eyal is here to help you become undeterred. Nir has a unique ability to bring together expertise in psychology, technology and business. He’s passionate about exploring how we can define what good work looks like without distractions, so you can set yourself up for success both personally and professionally

I recently interviewed him for my podcast, Start your businessand will share some of the key takeaways below.

As a special bonus for listeners, Nir would like to give away some copies of his book Undistractable: How to control your attention and choose your life. Just share one of your key takeaways from this episode on Instagram and tag me and Nir. We’ll pick some winners and send out some free books!

And yes, it’s okay if you share some of the key takeaways below. Great minds think alike!

Debunking the Myth of Distraction

Stop me if you’ve heard this phrase before: “Would you like to be more successful? Stop watching Netflix!” That’s just lazy advice and depending on what you’re watching, Netflix could actually be considered market research.

To become undistractable, Nir says, we need to be aware of the opposite of distraction. Most people would say that the opposite of distraction is focus, but the opposite is actually traction. I’ll let Nir explain in more detail why this distinction is so important.

“Traction, by definition, is any action that pulls you toward what you promised. Things you do on purpose, things that bring you closer to your values ​​and help you become the kind of person you want to be. The opposite distraction is any action that takes you away from what you intend to do, further from your goals, further from becoming the kind of person you want to become. So this is extremely important as any action can be based on traction or distraction on a word. And that one word is intent.”

So if you’re intending to watch Netflix because you’ve blocked that chill time, enjoy! It only becomes a problem – or a distraction – if it takes you away from what you were about to do at the time.

Nir goes on to warn us that the most dangerous distractions are the ones that tempt you to focus on the urgent, quick tasks instead of focusing on the deeper work you really need to do to reach your goals.

That’s why it’s beneficial to have a virtual assistant who can handle these tasks while you focus on deep, high-impact work.

Identify the cause of the distraction

There are three common distractions that we can all easily control.

Pings, Dings and Rings.

As you probably already know, disabling your notifications can help you improve your focus, but it still won’t make you undistractable. In fact, external triggers make up only 10% of our distractions. So, a quick math will tell you that the majority of triggers are internally caused. And I should note that about 3% of people have ADHD and it’s important to acknowledge that.

For everyone else, Nir is about to dive into why some people have trouble dealing with these internal triggers.

“You just don’t have the ability to manage discomfort in a way that leads to traction rather than distraction. What we find is that high achievers use those internal triggers, the uncomfortable states, to propel them into traction like rocket fuel… They use boredom, insecurity, fear, stress, anxiety, they use it like rocket fuel. During low performers, when they feel discomfort, boredom, anxiety, stress, they escape it. You escape him with emails. They evade it with control the message for the hundredth time, they evade it with a drink, they evade it with distraction. Distraction is a desire to escape from discomfort, which is why we have to admit that time management is pain management.

The truth hurts, and this one hit pretty hard, but it wasn’t done yet. Nir goes on to emphasize the need to start with and master your internal triggers and ailments, or they will end up mastering you.

Four steps to becoming undeniable

So now that we have a better understanding of what distraction is, realized that most of it is all our fault, now what? Nir gave a general overview of the four strategies for not getting distracted.

1. Master the internal triggers

As Nir said, time management is pain management. Sure, challenging tasks can be uncomfortable, but that’s where growth happens, both on a personal and professional level.

2. Make time for traction

As you’ll hear below, Nir strongly believes that to-do lists aren’t nearly as effective as they could be. You must add these action items to your calendar. He says, “If you don’t know what traction is, you don’t know what distraction is. If you didn’t plan it out in your day, what got you distracted?” Blocking out time on your to-do list is key to actually getting that work done and spotting distractions as they arise.

3. Hack back the external triggers

We’ve already discussed the pings, dings, and rings; but those are just the basics. Nir continues that we need to dig deeper: “What about all these stupid meetings we have to go to that are nothing more than a distraction? What are you doing about it? What do you do with your children? Many of us have to work from home. They can be a big distraction, right?”

Yes. She. Allowed to.

Fortunately, Nir goes on to explain that we are not powerless to solve this problem, and he shares more in his book.

4. Prevent distractions with pacts

The last step is to prevent distractions with pacts. A “prior commitment”—the removal of a future choice—to overcome distractions. There are four different pacts to consider.

An Effort Pact is a type of upfront commitment that involves increasing the effort required to do something you don’t want to do. For example, remove distracting apps from your phone.

A price pact puts money at risk. If you stick to your intended behavior, you keep the money. If you get distracted, you’ll lose your money. One of my business partners bet me $1,000 that he would have part of our project ready by the next day. The project was never completed, but I still made $1,000.

An identity pact is another way to change how you respond to distractions. If you identify as a vegetarian, it doesn’t take much willpower to avoid meat. I’ll see how that works as I identify as a patient parent and follow up with you.

What’s next?

Those were a few key takeaways from my conversation with Nir. To hear the full conversation and access additional resources, tune in to this week’s episode of the Launch Your Business podcast. Don’t forget to share your key insights to win Nir’s book!

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