7 Exercises for Becoming Indistractable

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Indistractable" by Nir Eyal. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you trying to become indistractable? How can these exercises from Insidstactable help you to focus on what’s really important in life?

In his book Insdistractable, Nir Eyal teaches readers how to focus on their goals and stop getting distracted by external triggers. Eyal says that distractions start internally, which is why you need to start driving your life instead of letting its distractions drive you.

Keep reading for exercises on becoming indistractable that you can apply to your own life.

How to Become Indistractable

In today’s tech-dependent, app-centered, notification-ruled world, it’s easier than ever to get distracted from what’s really important—your values, your relationships, and your work. In Indistractable, Nir Eyal develops a four-part model for gaining the modern-day superpower of “indistractability.” 

Here are exercises on becoming indistractable inspired by Nir Eyal’s book:

Think About the Consequences of Your Distractions

Reflect on the distracting, unimportant activities that take your time away from goal-supporting and productive actions. 

  • Think about your day-to-day activities. What do you consider your most distracting habits? (For example, checking social media on your phone or binge-watching Netflix.) 
  • What are the important things these habits are distracting you from? (For example, social media is distracting you from studying, and Netflix is distracting you from getting a good night’s sleep.)
  • What do you believe you could accomplish if you learned to be indistractable? (For example, less procrastination and stress in school, more time focusing on your family without thinking about work, or less dependence on your smartphone.)

Reflect on the Feelings Driving Distraction

One of the keys to stopping and preventing distraction is paying attention to the internal triggers that usually drive you to undesirable behaviors.

  • Describe the situations where you find that you’re most easily driven to distraction—pay attention to both the activity and details such as time of day or who’s usually with you. (For example, you might feel most distracted at work right after lunch or when you’re trying to study alone in your room.) 
  • What are the feelings—physical and mental—that usually precede giving in to a distraction? (For example, you experience restlessness, chest tightness, anxiety, or boredom.) 
  • How does giving in to distracting activities usually make you feel? (For example, you might feel relief, or you might feel more anxious.)

Reframe Your Situation

Adding challenges to everyday activities makes them engaging and interesting—reducing your need for a distracting “escape.”

  • Describe an activity that often makes you feel bored, restless, or otherwise in need of escape. (For example, practicing an instrument or writing article pitches.) 
  • How can you “dive deeper” into this activity—that is, break it down into smaller parts and examine them closely? (For example, you might research each of your instrument’s chords and which chord combinations work best, or go through old, accepted pitches to identify “best practices.”)
  • How can you create a challenge within this activity? Keep in mind that engaging challenges usually set limits. (For example, you challenge yourself to learn one new song per week or make a goal of sending three pitches in two hours.) 

Build Your Ideal Self and Relationship Schedule

Building a schedule that prioritizes what’s truly important depends on being clear about your values. 

  • What are your personal values? (For example, your values may include challenge, variety, and learning.)
  • What value-aligned activities can you schedule into your week? (For example, you might timebox several hours per week for advancing in your hobby and an hour on the weekend for exploring a new part of town.) 
  • What are some non-negotiable timeboxes you can create for your family and friends? (For example, you read to your kids for 30 minutes every night, cook dinner for your spouse one night per week, and have a standing appointment for Sunday night drinks with your friends.) 

Reduce Your External Triggers

Left unchecked, external triggers can easily break your focus and pull you off task throughout your day. 

  • What external trigger(s) do you find most distracting? (For example, audio text notifications, your email, or recommendations at the bottom of articles.)
  • Why do you think this particular trigger is so distracting to you? (For example, your audio notifications grab your attention even when your phone is put away, email always has something new to look at, or recommended articles give you something easy and interesting to browse.)  
  • Describe your plan for diminishing this trigger’s ability to distract you. (For example, you turn off text notifications, unsubscribe from unimportant emails and tag incoming emails to be processed later, or save your recommended articles to an app so you can read them later.)

Create an Effort Pact

You can help yourself avoid undesirable behaviors by making them harder to perform.

  • What’s an undesirable behavior that you’d like to perform less? (For example, skipping the gym or going on social media when you should be studying.)
  • How can you attach an effort pact to this behavior to make it more difficult? (For example, finding a gym buddy so you have to call and cancel on them if you want to skip a workout or using a site-blocking browser extension that you must undo before visiting social media.) 

Commit to Indistractability With Friends

When friends spend distracted time together, they miss out on important moments and conversations that deepen their relationships.

  • Describe situations where you and your friends often become distracted. (For example, you always end up looking at your phones while at dinner together or your children often wander into your get-togethers and derail your conversations.) 
  • How can you minimize these distractions? (For example, calling out inappropriate phone use or agreeing not to let children interrupt your conversations.) 
7 Exercises for Becoming Indistractable

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Nir Eyal's "Indistractable" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Indistractable summary :

  • How to become indistractable in a world full of distractions
  • Why your schedule should be based on your values instead of tasks
  • How to start driving your life instead of letting its distractions drive you

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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