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  • Have you ever noticed that your attention and ability to focus seems to have a mind

  • of its own? Maybe you're frustrated with how little you get done on some days. If you

  • can relate, this video is for you.

  • Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com.

  • Most of us, myself included, strive to continuously improve our productivity and effectiveness,

  • and we know that in order to accomplish our goals, we need to stop wasting time and do

  • the actual work. But the hard part isn't knowing what to do - it's resisting distractions.

  • Living our ideal life, then, isn't just about doing all the right things, but also

  • not doing the things you'll regret, like checking your Instagram for the 37th time

  • today.

  • Nir Eyal is an expert on habit-forming technology, best known for his book Hooked, which teaches

  • companies how to build apps that you simply can't resist. Now he's using his expertise

  • to help the little guys with his new book, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention

  • and Choose Your Life. This is how to reclaim a hold on your attention, ability to do deep

  • work, and become indistractable in a new age of the attention economy.

  • While many of us vilify technology as being the cause for our distractions, Nir emphasizes

  • that distraction is nothing new. Rather than blaming technology for our inability to stay

  • on track, we must take responsibility and understand the root causes if we have any

  • hope of reclaiming our attention.

  • Master Internal Triggers Let's begin with internal triggers, which

  • are cues arising from within, like feeling hunger or cold. External triggers, on the

  • other hand, are those arising from the environment, like a notification on your phone.

  • Nir argues that the root cause of all our behavior is simply the drive to relieve discomfort

  • even the drive caused by desire is there to free ourselves from the pain of wanting.

  • You can think of a root cause as the underlying reason, and the proximate cause as what is

  • immediately responsible for a problem. In other words, it what allows you to deflect

  • responsibility onto something or someone else.

  • This distinction is important, as addressing the proximate but not the root cause doesn't

  • actually fix the problem. Distractions are often the result of proximate causes like

  • our cell phones that we think are the culprit, but the root cause remains hidden.

  • Or as Nir puts it, “solely blaming a smartphone for causing distraction is just as flawed

  • as blaming a pedometer for making someone climb too many stairs.”

  • Therefore, to most effectively deal with distraction, we need to learn to deal with discomfort.

  • There are 4 steps to mastering your internal triggers.

  • Step 1 - look for the discomfort that precedes the distraction, and focus on the internal

  • trigger. What emotions and thoughts come up prior to engaging with the distraction?

  • Step 2 - write down the internal trigger. Note the time of day, what you were doing,

  • and how you felt when you noticed the internal trigger.

  • Step 3 - explore your sensations with curiosity, not with contempt. Think of this as an extension

  • of the mindfulness practices we've discussed on the channel.

  • Step 4 - be extra cautious during liminal moments. Liminal moments are the transition

  • instances from one task to another throughout the day. For example, let's say you open

  • a tab in a browser, but it's taking long to load, and then you open up another while

  • waiting. These are critical moments that can determine whether you stay on task or get

  • off track and go down a 2 hour YouTube binge.

  • I love Nir's take on fun. Fun doesn't require enjoyment. Rather, by reimagining

  • difficult work as fun and rewarding in its own way, you'll find yourself empowered

  • to do more. Have you ever noticed that you derived deep satisfaction, even maybe some

  • fun, after working through a challenging assignment or problem? That's the beauty in enjoying

  • the process and noticing the nuances and the hidden beauty beyond the surface level monotony.

  • One should also be careful to not to overlook the importance of identity and temperament.

  • If you label yourself as having poor self-control, guess what, you'll act in ways that are

  • more aligned with lacking self-control. When you inevitably fall short on your goals, don't

  • beat yourself up, but rather approach the failing with self-compassion. Paradoxically,

  • self-compassion makes you less likely to deviate in the future compared to being strict with

  • yourself because you break the vicious cycle of stress that so often accompanies failure.

  • Remember, obstacles and setbacks are part of the growth process, not a hindrance to

  • it.

  • Make Time for Traction If distraction pulls you away from your goals,

  • traction is what brings you closer to them. And unless you plan ahead, it's difficult

  • to know the difference between traction and distraction.

  • As Seneca wrote, “People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it

  • comes to squandering time, they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be

  • stingy.”

  • While we may idolize the perks of freedom, we actually perform better under constraints.

  • Limitations give us a structure, while a blank schedule and a lengthy to-do-list torments

  • us with too many choices.

  • Nir is a strong advocate of timeboxing, where you closely schedule out your day in advance.

  • Ideally, you should eliminate all white space from your calendar so you know how you want

  • to spend your time each day. That way, if you're not doing what you're supposed

  • to be doing, then you're off track.

  • Although your aim is to follow the time boxed schedule as closely as possible, understand

  • you'll never achieve perfection. Rather, each week, reflect on where your schedule

  • didn't work out in the prior week so you can make it easier to follow the subsequent

  • week. Over time, your schedule, and ability to stick to it, will improve.

  • When first approaching timeboxing, start with your personal time, meaning at the most basic

  • level, what are the things you need to do? Sleep, hygiene, meals, and the like. After

  • that, focus on how spending your time would reflect your values. For some people, that

  • translates to carving a few hours every night for friends or family. For others grinding

  • through medical school, it may be important to schedule different types of study sessions

  • around a daily exercise routine.

  • Remember, you will never be perfect at this, but don't beat yourself up when you miss

  • the mark. Think of yourself as a scientist, experimenting and tweaking your schedule and

  • refining it week after week. Remind yourself that showing up is the most important part.

  • Not showing up guarantees failure. You can't always control what you get out of a work

  • session, but you can always control whether or not you'll show up and how much time

  • you put into a task.

  • Hack Back External Triggers If you're anything like me, you have issues

  • with external triggers. You're not alone. Even in healthcare, external triggers can

  • be a cause of medical errors. At Kaiser South San Francisco, nurses wore brightly colored

  • vests to let others know that they were dispensing medications and not to interrupt them. With

  • this simple intervention, there was a 47% reduction in errors.

  • Email is a commonly misused tool, and there are several reasons it tends to go so wrong.

  • First, it's a variable reward system. As we know from the most basic of psych studies,

  • the uncertainty of variable reward results in a much stronger draw. We often find ourselves

  • checking email impulsively multiple times a day, waiting for new messages.

  • Second, reciprocity, whereby humans are more likely to respond in kind to the actions of

  • another, pushes us to feel like we should respond to the messages we find in our inbox.

  • And third, necessity in our current student and work environments. If you wanted to get

  • away from email, good luck navigating college, medical school, or even your job.

  • Luckily, addressing the issues with email is relatively straightforward. To receive

  • fewer emails, we need to send fewer emails. Nir suggests that if it's not an urgent

  • email, tell the sender that you have office hours every week on a certain day at a certain

  • time, where they can swing by to ask the question. This has two benefits. First, they are able

  • to come up with an answer for themselves. And second, difficult questions are best handled

  • in person or via a phone call anyway rather than email. While this is most appropriate

  • for those who are working corporate jobs, you can still apply a similar approach as

  • a student. For those questions that are less urgent and less conducive to email, don't

  • be afraid to suggest speaking about it in person the next time you see them.

  • Delaying your email delivery is also a sneaky trick that is surprisingly effective. If you

  • respond quickly to someone's email, you are reinforcing that email is a great way

  • to get a quick reply from you. Don't be surprised if they respond again quickly soon

  • after. As Med School Insiders grew, I learned this the hard way and was soon overrun with

  • emails. By instead writing the email but scheduling it to send later in the week, which is possible

  • to do with most modern email clients, you'll break the chain and slow the rate of communication.

  • Lastly, batching your emails is far more efficient than the constant checking throughout the

  • day. A big part of this is due to the time it takes our brain to switch between tasks.

  • I batch at the beginning and end of the work days, allowing myself to be more intentional

  • during the middledoing what is on my task list, not serving someone else's.

  • Now let's talk about your biggest distractionyour smartphone.

  • First, remove apps you no longer need. I removed games from my phone back in college and I've

  • never looked back.

  • Second, replace functions where appropriate. If you use your phone to check the time, why

  • not replace the time function with a watch? You can also remove your social media apps

  • from your phone and use them from your computer at predetermined times in your timeboxed schedule.

  • Third, rearrange your apps. He suggests three categories - primary tools, for apps that

  • help you accomplish defined tasks that you do frequently. For example, getting a ride

  • or finding a location. Slot machines, for apps like email, Twitter, Instagram, and other

  • social media. And third, aspirations, which is for apps that encourage you to do things

  • you want to do more of, like meditation, journaling, yoga, reading, or podcasts.

  • Fourth, reclaim your attention, which translates to disabling most notifications. As sound

  • notifications are the most intrusive, you should be highly selective with soundNir

  • recommends sounds on for only text and phone calls. Visual notifications are the second

  • most intrusive, and for those he primarily relies on badges.

  • Prevent Distractions with Pacts Pacts are pre-commitment devices, whereby

  • you remove a future choice in order to reign back your impulsivity. There are a few different

  • types.

  • Effort pacts are a precommitment that increase the amount of effort required to do an undesirable

  • action. By making unwanted behaviors more difficult to perform, you're adding friction

  • to becoming distracted. For example, I talk about focus apps on your computer like Freedom,

  • Focus, or SelfControl, which prevent you from being distracted away from work while on your

  • computer.

  • A price pact is where you put money on the line. This takes advantage of loss aversion,

  • whereby people are more motivated to avoid losses than they are to seek gains. Nir uses

  • a “burn or burncalendar. Either he burns calories with exercising, or he burns the

  • $100 bill that he has taped to his exercise calendar if he misses a day.

  • Last, identity pacts are a function of your perception and beliefs about yourself. This

  • can prove tremendously powerful in behavior change. For example, when I went on a plant-based

  • diet in medical school, avoiding meat was surprisingly easy simply because my identity

  • around what I did and didn't eat had changed. And the beautiful thing about identity change

  • is that the more we stick to our plans and our new formed identity, the more we enforce

  • it.

  • How to Have Indistractable Relationships Becoming indistractable isn't a solo task

  • distraction is contagious. When your friend pulls out her phone at dinner, it acts as

  • an external trigger, prompting you to become more likely to pull yours out as well. We

  • call this social contagion, whereby we copy the behavior of others around us.

  • Paul Graham, famous Silicon Valley entrepreneur writes about social antibodies, which are

  • social norms that act as defenses against new harmful behaviors. For example, in the

  • mid-20th century, smoking indoors, around kids, and just about any place was considered

  • more or less normal. But now in 2020, norms have drastically changed, and we've adopted

  • social antibodies to discourage and shun such behavior. If we develop new norms to make

  • it taboo to check one's phone when in the company of others, it'll be a strong force

  • in the fight against distraction.

  • Remember, being indistractable means striving to do what you say you will do. It does not

  • mean you'll be perfect or never fail. We all do, and will continue, to struggle with

  • distraction. The game isn't to beat distraction, but to constantly get better at managing it.

  • If you enjoyed this video, pick up the book, link in the description. I also had an awesome

  • conversation with Nir Eyal about Indistractable and other topics. Click here to check it out,

  • or watch my other book summaries here. Much love, and I'll see you guys in that next

  • one.

Have you ever noticed that your attention and ability to focus seems to have a mind

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Indistractable - How to Control Your Attention & Overcome Distraction | Book Summary

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    Summer posted on 2020/09/05
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