Traction draws you towards what you want in life, distraction pulls you away
Distraction, it turns out, is not about the distraction itself; rather, it’s about how we respond to it. Indistractable offers fantastic insights into the mechanisms of distraction and a systematic approach to creating behaviours that can help people avoid distractions and maintain traction.
In Part 1 of this book summary, we explored how Eyal & Li’s ideas around ways to cope with internal triggers. They highlighted the concept of reducing sources of discomfort and suggested that if we don’t control our impulse to escape uncomfortable feelings, we’ll always look for quick fixes to soothe our pain. In Part 2, we are going to explore their ideas that will allow us to enjoy time for traction.
Challenging the To-Do list
Eyal & Li identify serious flaws in the traditional To-Do list approach. The main problem is these lists get longer and longer and things keep getting pushed back day after day. Instead of thinking ‘what’ we are going to do they advocate starting with ‘why’ we’re going to do it.
Eyal & Li identify the act of unintentionally spending too much time in one area of our life as detrimental to the quality of other areas of our life.
A quick look at Timeboxing
Eyal & Li identify this technique as an ideal strategy for creating traction. They explain the psychological term for Timeboxing as ‘setting an implementation intention’, in other words ‘deciding what you’re going to do, and when you’re going to do it’. They feel that keeping a timeboxing schedule is the only way to know if you’re distracted; ‘if you’re not spending your time doing what you’d planned, you’re off track’. You can’t call something a distraction unless you know what it is distracting you from.
Our three life domains
Eyal & Li identify three life domains – You / Relationships / Work. They quote Russ Harris (The Hapiness Trap) where he suggests that values are, ‘how we want to be, what we want to stand for, and how we want to relate to the world around us’, which form guidelines for our actions. They go on to suggest that skilfully living by your values will maximise your traction while eliminating distraction.
You – Controlling the inputs
You are the most critical person to helping you live the kind of life you want. To support you, Eyal & Li suggest that inputs such as exercise, sleep, eating healthily and time spent reading or listening to an audiobook are all ways to invest in ourselves. Other inputs such as mindfulness, spiritual connection or reflection (prayer/meditation) are effective value driven activities. Eyal & Li suggest three key points:
- Schedule time for yourself first
- Show up when you say you will
- Input is much more certain than outcome
Focus on relationships
The importance of relationships with family and friends is well documented. Eyal & Li identify that essential relationships help us to live our values of connection, loyalty and responsibility. They highlight the need to schedule fun activities to combat neglecting the essential focus on relationships and they go on to suggest that a lack of close friends may be hazardous to our health. As we grow older, they suggest that our ability to initiate and develop relationships is more difficult than when we were young. They conclude:
‘The time we spend with our friends isn’t necessarily just pleasurable – it’s an investment in our future health and wellbeing.’
Synchronising your professional life
Eyal & Li remind us that work probably takes up more of our waking hours than any other domains. Therefore, the importance of aligning this time to our values, such as being collaborative, industrious, and persistent, is viewed as desirable.
They empathised by acknowledging that many of us find that our workday is a hectic mess, plagued by constant interruptions, pointless meetings, and a never-ending flow of e-mails. In response to this, Eyal & Li recommend spending ‘value driven time’ when working, which will reinforce the central quality for a positive working life.
‘Studies have found that workers who spend more than fifty-five hours per week on the job have reduced productivity.’
- Syncing your schedule with colleagues at work is critical for making time for traction in your day.
- Undertake this syncing as frequently as your, and your colleagues, schedules change.
Gain traction skilfully
What would you rate your current daily traction rates, in the three areas of your life (you/relationships/work), out of 100? Would exploring a logical system of mental fitness activities, that gave you huge gains in daily traction rates, be worth exploring? Could skilful management of distractions enormously enhance your life enjoyment? I’m asking these questions because we have consistently experienced positive outcomes, to these questions, as a result of helping people.
Whether working with individuals, or teams of people, Get Mentally Fit aim to professionally support the embedding of sustainable, positive, effective thinking. Our programs and services are customised to achieve every client’s identified outcomes. This often includes learning skills to minimise the disruptive effects of distraction.
CONTACT US to pro-actively explore how you can take the first step to being ‘Indistractable’.
Zoe Chance, ‘How to Make a Behaviour Addictive’, TEDx talk at TEDxMillRiver (2010)
Timothy D. Wilson et al., ‘Just Think: The Challenges of the Disengaged Mind’, Science 345, no. 6192 (2014), 75-77.
Lea Winerman, Suppressing the “White Bears”, Monitor on Psychology 42, no. 9 (October 2011),