I quite enjoyed “Indistractable” by Nir Eyal. It was an insightful analysis on determining and spending time on what is important, theories around how to do so, and practical tips on how to accomplish your goals.
Most people don’t want to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that distraction is always an unhealthy escape from reality. How we deal with uncomfortable internal triggers determines whether we pursue healthful acts of traction or self-defeating distractions.
It is essential not only to focus on the right things but also to determine triggers and take actions to stop doing the wrong things. Often doing the wrong things is driven by the need to lower discomfort rather than intentionally choosing them. It can also significantly help to label yourself as having and being able to have a high amount of self-control (avoiding the self-fulfilling prophecy). Our time is often unguarded. Protect it from unwanted internal and external influences!
What have I already done?
Many of the recommendations to be indistractable have historically been a part of my daily life. However, I definitely picked up some new ideas to employ.
I have already reorganized my phone so that the home screen has only apps I want to spend time on. This has really helped me to focus.
My phone now has these applications pinned so that I am encouraged to use them most often based on my goals.
- Balance Meditation
The primary apps on the home screen are things I want to spend more time:
- Netflix (which is not a big distraction for me though it may be for many)
- Google Keep
- Google Calendar
- Words with Friends (which I only play with family and close friends to stay in contact)
- Roku (remote control)
- Forest (focus time)
- ISS Spotter (which tells me when the space station going to be visible)
- Spacer (upcoming rocket launches to watch on YouTube)
I purged the home screen of applications such as news, email, instant messaging, games, etc. I also removed work accounts from my phone for email and Slack.
I have also updated notifications settings to remove notifications that are not productive for my overall goals, which is nearly all notifications. I now only have enabled notifications for:
- ISS Spotter
- Messages (to stay in contact with friends and family)
- Screen time
Most importantly, I have reached out to friends and family to set up recurring times to meet on video to catch up. Friendships definitely wither if not actively maintained.
I set up daily time limits for apps on the phone. I find myself generally ignoring the warnings, but I am being conscious that I am doing so. This is an area I plan to improve.
I also installed the Forest app to spend more time focused and not on my phone. If I break my own rules, I kill (virtual trees). This has been surprisingly effective!
What am I planning to do?
I am planning to read and respond to email and Slack for 30 minutes intervals. I will do this at the beginning of the day, after lunch, and before finishing work for the day. I will close them entirely at other times.
I also plan to use a tool like FocusMate to create or other methods to create “focus time pacts” with another person periodically. If anyone knows of a good Slack application that facilitates this, please let me know!