Conquering Chaos

Overcoming Distraction with Nir Eyal

January 14, 2020 Erin E Hooley Season 2 Episode 2
Conquering Chaos
Overcoming Distraction with Nir Eyal
Chapters
Conquering Chaos
Overcoming Distraction with Nir Eyal
Jan 14, 2020 Season 2 Episode 2
Erin E Hooley

In a world so full of distractions, how are we to get anything done? What would life be like if we could truly turn off all distractions and drive towards our goals with purpose and intent? Sound like a fairytale? Join host, Erin E Hooley and special guest, Nir Eyal to find out how to become truly indistractable.

Show Notes Transcript

In a world so full of distractions, how are we to get anything done? What would life be like if we could truly turn off all distractions and drive towards our goals with purpose and intent? Sound like a fairytale? Join host, Erin E Hooley and special guest, Nir Eyal to find out how to become truly indistractable.

Speaker 1:

The fact of the matter is you cannot call something a distraction unless you know what it distracted you from. So you have to plan your day or somebody else will. Somebody is going to eat up that time unless you decide in advance how you want to turn your values into time.

Speaker 2:

Um, hello and can I get a how Luhya I'm telling you, you just listened to an excerpt from today's episode all about distraction. Now I know I'm not the only person who struggles with this, so you're going to want to stop what you're doing. Turn off the distractions so you can learn about distraction and how to keep it at Bay. Tackle your goals and your day with a greater degree of impact and efficiency. I'm telling you this episode will change your life.

Speaker 3:

Welcome to the conquering chaos podcast. I'm Aaron E Hooley, executive coach, speaker and serial entrepreneur as well as mother of six. And this is the ultimate hangout where I share all the juicy details behind building to multimillion dollar eCommerce businesses, Bailey's blossoms, and Peyton. Bree, if you're looking to launch yourself to the next level in your personal professional growth journey, you're in the right place. Grab a pen and paper because we're about to redefine what success looks like. Hey guys, and welcome to a [inaudible]

Speaker 2:

episode of the conquering chaos podcast. Today's guest has been called the prophet of habit forming technology in an MIT technology review. He's taught at the Stanford graduate school of business and he's the author of hooked, how to build habit forming products and my personal new favorite read titled indestructable how to control your attention and choose your life. I'm speaking of none other than near ill and I'm so honored to have him here with me today. NIR, welcome to the show.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for the great introduction. That's very much appreciated. I'm glad you enjoyed it and distractable so much. It's been fantastic. I don't think I've marked up a book this much in a very long time. You know that is like catnip for authors. We love to hear that. That's a huge compliment.

Speaker 2:

That is awesome. Well before we just kind of jump into all of the good stuff that you've just been pouring into my brain through this good read. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your kind of, just your history, your back.

Speaker 1:

Sure. Yeah. So my background is I'm, I started two tech companies and the PR, the, the second was in the advertising and gaming space back in 2007. And this was back before apps meant, uh, iPhone apps or, or, or Google, uh, phone apps. They meant, uh, apps in the Facebook ecosystem. And so we were building apps back before anybody else really was. And we got a front row seat into how different products and services are designed to be engaging. Uh, many of these companies were my clients and I knew people at these companies who were my friends. And I learned the tactics of how various products and services are designed to be so engaging. And so after that company was acquired, I wanted to solidify what I had learned in order to, you know, steal the secrets, so to speak of company, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and WhatsApp.

Speaker 1:

And Slack. The idea was, you know, why is it just the social media companies and the video gaming companies that can make their products so engaging. What if we could use the same psychology to make all sorts of things habit forming. So I've worked with companies like Fitbit a, I'm sorry, fit bot, not that bitfit bot is a company that gets people hooked to exercising in the gym. Uh, I've worked with companies like Kahoot, the world's largest educational software to get people but get kids hooked onto in-classroom learning. I've worked with the newspapers like the New York times to get people hooked to reading the news every day. So the idea here was that we could use these technologies to help people form healthy habits in their day to day lives. But then, you know, the, the flip side, you know, back then the problem was that we had these technologies that people weren't using enough.

Speaker 1:

That was the problem. You know, people used to say how technology was only for geeks and nerds use it. Oh, how times have changed. Right now we have the opposite problem. Now we have the problem that technology is so well designed that sometimes we find it difficult to put these things in their place. And so that's what led me to write in distractible is that because I have such a deep background in the psychology of how habits are formed through these products, uh, I could, I could reveal the Achilles heel of how these products can, uh, how we can use them differently to make sure we get the best out of technology without letting it get the best of us. And one of the things that you said in your book that you just said, you know, I love sweets. I love social media and television, but as much as I love them, they don't love me back.

Speaker 1:

And I guess let's talk a little bit about awareness. Do you see this as an issue or do you believe that most people are somewhat astute to their own, potentially destructive vices? You know, the, the interesting thing is that this is not a new problem. That when I started to explore this problem, I thought it was just a tech problem. Uh, and it turned out it's a much bigger problem than that. And I think a much more interesting problem that in fact, Plato talked about this very same problem 2,500 years before the iPhone. Plato said how distracting the world was back then. He called it a classy ad. Our tendency to do things against our better interest. And I would argue that that distraction is nothing new. And let's be honest, let's say tomorrow Facebook shutdown, you know, Mark Zuckerberg says, I've had enough of this.

Speaker 1:

That's it. I'm done. I'm taking my money and I'm shutting down Facebook. Do we really think people just stop getting distracted? Of course not. We'll find other things to distract ourselves, whether it's gossip or uh, what's going on in the news or spectator sports or you know, who knows what else. We will find ways to distract ourselves if we don't understand the deeper psychology of distraction. So I wanted to write a book that was very practical, was based in good research. It's about 20 pages of citations. Everything in the book is, is cited with peer reviewed studies and also tech positive because the fact of the matter is this stuff isn't going away, right? These, these technologies aren't going anywhere. If anything, the world is going to become a more distracting place. But that doesn't mean we can't do something about it. And so I really wanted to write a very empowering book that's not, you know, another book telling us how technology is melting our brain, how technology is so awful. And you know, I, I don't buy that. I think it's wonderful if we use it properly. Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And you even mentioned also in your book that you are prioritizing your distractions over the most important people in your life. And that was, man, that was like a little stab right to the gut for me where I'm going, Oh, guilty. Absolutely guilty. But I love that you call a spade a spade because yeah, it hurts, but it also kind of gets us on the path to be healed if we first are, have to be aware of it, we have to call it out. And then we have to ask ourselves, are we okay with this? And if we're not, okay, what's the alternative?

Speaker 1:

That's right. That's right. And so the, the, the idea behind the book is to help you do whatever it is you say you want to do. So it's maybe it's helpful to talk about what I mean by distraction and, and kind of get into the meat of, of what this term really means. I think the best way to understand what distraction is, is to understand what it is not. So the opposite of distraction. If you ask people what you know, what's the opposite of distraction, they'll tell you focus. But I don't exactly agree. I think that the opposite of distraction is not focus. The opposite of distraction is traction. That if you look at the entomology of the word, they actually both come from the same Latin root [inaudible] which means to pull. So traction is any action that pulls you towards what you want to do.

Speaker 1:

You notice both traction and distraction end in the same six letters, ACI, when that spells action. So traction is any action that pulls you towards what you want. The opposite of traction is distraction. Anything that pulls you away from what you plan to do, anything that you are not doing with intent. So this is really important for two reasons. Number one, anything can be a distraction. Yes. You know, I would sit down at my desk, I, I was patient zero for this. By the way, I wrote this book for me more than anybody else because I struggled with this problem. I would sit down at my desk and I would say, okay, now I'm going to do that thing I've been putting off. Now I'm going to do that thing that I'd been procrastinating on. I'm finally going to do the thing that I said I'm going to do.

Speaker 1:

Here I go. But first let me check some email. Yes, email feels productive. It feels like a work-related task. You've got to do that anyway, right? But I would argue this is how distraction tricks us. Distraction oftentimes makes us prioritize the urgent at the expense of the important. And that's really, really a pernicious threat to our productivity and our happiness in life because we keep reacting to whatever is in front of us as opposed to allowing time for reflection around what we really want to do with our time. So anything can be a distraction if it's not what you plan to do with intent. And conversely, I argue anything can be traction. So if you enjoy playing video games, if you enjoy watching a movie on Netflix, if you enjoy social media, there's nothing wrong with it, go for it. You know? But the PR, the difference is don't do it whenever you get a ping, ding, right?

Speaker 1:

Don't do it on somebody else's schedule. Use these products on your schedule with intent. There's no moral hierarchy that says that playing candy crush is somehow morally inferior to watching a football game on TV. They're both pastimes. There's nothing wrong with either of them, but again, do it according to your values and according to your schedule, not someone else's. And if that's the case, you know what I want to help people do is, is to do what ever they themselves want to do with their time. I think what the problem we often see today, you know, it used to be that you could claim ignorance that we could say, well, you know, I just don't know how right I would, but I don't know how. I don't, I don't know how to lose weight. I don't know how to be more productive at work. I don't know how to have better relationships with my family today.

Speaker 1:

We can't argue that anymore. Everyone has Google. You can wait and we, and frankly a lot of this is common sense, who doesn't know basically how to lose weight, who doesn't basically know that if you want to improve your relationships with your family and friends, you have to be fully present. Who doesn't know that? If you want to do better at your job, you have to do the work. Especially the hard stuff that other people don't do. So we know what to do. What we don't know how to do is how do we prevent doing the things we know we shouldn't do? How do we prevent getting distracted? I think that's the skillset that so many people like myself were missing. Absolutely. So how can people tell the difference between using something as a distraction versus using something to get them closer to their goal?

Speaker 1:

I mean, in my mind I'm thinking, well first you have to even know what your goal is, right? Yeah, absolutely. So if there's one mantra for this book, I would love people to remember. It's that the antidote to impulsiveness is forethought. You know, our species has this amazing ability to do something that no other animal on the face of the earth can do, which is that we can see the future with greater fidelity than any other animal. We can predict what is going to happen better than any other creature. And so the, the fact of the matter is that distraction is an impulse control problem. It's when we in the moment get tricked by distraction. We think what we're doing is important that it's urgent and it's typically not. It's just something that, that we are doing out of impulse. But here's the thing, the antidote to impulsiveness is using that forethought, that amazing ability that we have to see into the future.

Speaker 1:

So if the chocolate cake is on the fork on its way to your mouth, you're going to eat it. It's too late. If is lit, you're going to smoke it. And if your cell phone is on your nightstand, and it's the first thing you see in the morning when you wake up, you're gonna reach for it before you even say hello to your loved one. Yes. Because you've already lost. And so, so many of us, we use willpower and self control and self discipline. And it turns out funny enough, the research suggests that that stuff doesn't work, that that's in the moment will fail. What doesn't fail is having tools in your toolkit is having a system in place to prevent distraction with forethought. So it's really about planning ahead and that's what becoming indestructable is all about. I love it. So let's talk about those tools.

Speaker 1:

What, what are they, how would you categorize them? Yeah, so we talked about traction is anything that you plan to do with intent, anything that pulls you towards what you want to do. The opposite is distraction. Anything that pulls you away from what you want to do. Now we have to ask ourselves another question. Why do we do either acts of traction or distraction? What prompts us to do what we do? And so if we're going to answer Plato's question of why do we get distracted, why do we do things against our better interests? We have to go a layer deeper to a more basic question of what drives human motivation and this, this is something that surprised me the more I did this research. You know, I thought like most people do that the nature of human motivation is that everything we do is about the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

Speaker 1:

We've all heard this, carrots and sticks, right? Right. Turns out that neurologically that is not what is going on. That neurologically, the way the brain gets us to do things is not for the pursuit of pleasure and the voidance of pain, but rather it's pain all the way down that everything we do is about the desire to escape discomfort. Even the pursuit of pleasure is itself psychologically destabilizing, wanting, craving lusting. There's a reason we say love hurts because in the brain we have these two neurocircuits. We have what's called the liking system and the wanting system. It's two separate brains systems. The liking system in codes, memories of pleasurable sensations that the wanting system uses to go to us with discomfort to make us go get that thing that felt good in the past. Remember, the brain doesn't do it, feels good. The brain gets us to do things that felt good in the past.

Speaker 1:

And so even pleasurable sensations we pursue because of this discomfort. And so we know this to be true physiologically. If you think about, uh, if you go outside and it's cold, well that feels uncomfortable. So you put on a jacket, if you walk back inside now you're too hot. That doesn't feel good. So you take it off. If you're hungry, you feel hunger pangs and that makes you eat. And if you eat too much now that doesn't feel good. You're stuffed. That's uncomfortable. You stop eating right. And so that happens in the body all day long. This is called a homeostatic response. But the same thing holds true for our psychological sensations. When we're feeling bored or lonely, let's say when we're feeling lonely, we check Facebook. When we're uncertain, we Google. When we're bored, we check the news, we look at sports scores, Reddit, Pinterest, all of these things cater to these uncomfortable emotional sensation.

Speaker 1:

So what this all means, and this is the most important first step to becoming in distractible. If all behavior is prompted by desire to escape discomfort, that means that time management is pain management. I love that. And if we don't fundamentally accept this fact that we are doing what we do to escape some sort of discomfort, that the reason we get distracted is because we are trying to feel something we don't want to feel. And of course we rationalize that after the fact and say, Oh yeah, but I really needed to do that thing, right? What we're really doing is to try to escape discomfort. So the most important first step to becoming indestructable, they're four steps. The most important first step is to master those internal triggers, to learn ways to cope with that discomfort in a healthier manner. What would you say, I mean with, I think there's so many things that can be overdiagnosed and add is one of them, right?

Speaker 1:

What would you say to people who struggle with that saying, Oh, I just, this isn't, this isn't viable for me. This isn't a solution for me because I have this problem. It's just who I am. So therefore I am going to be distractible forever and never reach my goals and never progressed to the, to the degree that I really want to. There's a chapter in the book called re-imagine your temperament. And the reason I talk about this is this falls under the section on how to master internal triggers. And I uncover some really interesting research, uh, that a lot of people have this, this uh, this notion that, uh, will power is a depletable resource. Uh, that, you know, if you, I used to do this everyday I would come home from work and I would say, Oh, I am spent, I had such a tough day.

Speaker 1:

I've got no willpower left. Give me that Ben and Jerry's, I'm going to sit on the couch. I'm watching this. That's for three hours. And many of us say this and we believe that that willpower runs out like gas in a gas tank. The after a while you've just run out of it. And so there was actually some research that, that validated this and it got utter, it got a, a a a moniker. It was called ego depletion and ego depletion was this idea that you run out of willpower, like gas in a gas tank. And a few psychologists had this, this is a show that there was some kind of magical properties around ego depletion that you could replenish it by drinking sugar sweetened lemonade. And you know, until a group of psychologists, this is what's happens in the psychology community every few years, you know, we, we retest studies that seem too good to be true and it turns out that people couldn't replicate these studies that either it was a statistical fluke or there was something shady going on, but it turns out that ego depletion looks like it's not real, that it doesn't really exist except except for one group of people that the work of Carol Dweck at Stanford university found that one group of people really do exhibit ego depletion and everybody else doesn't.

Speaker 1:

One group of people really does run out of willpower like gas in a gas tank and those people and only those people were people who believed in willpower. Okay? The only the people who believe that ego, that ego depletion really exists, that you do really run out of it. Those were the people who exhibited it. This is a really powerful idea because what this tells us is that the way we view ourselves, the way we account for our temperament is oftentimes a self limiting belief, right? By adding certain labels to ourselves. Sometimes that can serve us and it's interesting because in the book I actually talk about how you can use labels and identity to help you, but many times we have to ask ourselves, wait a minute, is this label helping me or hurting me? Is the fact that I think I am a certain thing that I think I am a morning person or I have that particular temperament or I am always this way.

Speaker 1:

You know, our personalities are much more flexible than we might think and so I'm not saying that people aren't one way or the other. Clearly people do have defining traits. However, what I would, what would argue is that we should question whether those labels serve us or whether we are serving those labels. Just like this label of, Ugh, I've spent my willpower. I have no willpower left. How could I possibly resist? Temptation didn't serve people because it was a myth. It was just something they believed and then of course they acted according to those beliefs. What would you say to people who struggle with self awareness and this is a new idea, this concept of being so self aware that you can get context to what exactly we're doing to set ourselves on a path either for success or potential failure. So this is a very, very important step in the path to becoming a distractible is noting the uncomfortable sensation.

Speaker 1:

So if we agree that all behavior is prompted by a desire to escape discomfort, then psychologists tell us that one of the first steps is to become aware of that sensation. Why can't you sit still with your family without checking your phone? Why when you sit down at work, can you not help it go check email as opposed to working on that big project? Why do you skip the exercise that you know? You said you wanted to go get w the the deeper emotions here, there is always what we call an internal trigger. There's always some kind of discomfort that we are looking to escape. And so the first step has to be to note that sensation. Simply writing it down. In my book, I give people with what I call a distraction tracker. Simply writing down what it is that you're feeling in that moment.

Speaker 1:

And then what we want to do is use what I call the 10 minute rule, and this has been around for a long time. I didn't invent this. This has been around for decades from the acceptance of commitment therapy community. And what we find is when we tell ourselves that we can give into a temptation in just 10 minutes, this is a very effective technique. What we do is we just tell ourselves, I can have that piece of chocolate cake. I can, you know, go check email when I know I want to work on a big project. I can do that stuff in just 10 minutes. Now, why is this technique so effective? It's way better for, for for thing, for temptations that we can't escape completely for sometimes you know, certain temptations are okay to abstain from completely right. Certain things for certain people we want to abstain from completely, but other things, you know, food for example, you can't abstain from food completely.

Speaker 1:

You have to eat or you'll starve. And technology is the same way. If you don't use email, you're going to get fired from your job. You can't just abstain completely. Right? And so the reason that abstaining often backfires is because it's kinda like pulling on a rubber band. When you pull a rubber band, you pull, pull, pull, pull pole. Eventually you can't pull anymore and you have to let go. And when you let go, the rubber band doesn't just stop where you started to pull it. No, it ricochets even farther, right? Yes. And that's exactly what happens when we tell ourselves not to do something. When we say don't do something. For example, if I say whatever you do right now, don't think about a white bear. Don't do it. Don't think about a white bear. Right? Of course. What are you thinking about? You can't think about anything.

Speaker 1:

So when you tell yourself, don't do it, don't do it, don't do it. Don't, don't, don't do it. Okay, fine. I'll give in that release of the tension of telling yourself not to do something is actually registered in the brain. Remember we said earlier about how all behavior is prompted by a desire just to escape. Discomfort will, you've escaped discomfort and now it feels good, right? Because you've relieved the tension and so strict abstinence oftentimes backfires. So what we want to do instead is to use this 10 minute rule where you say to yourself, look, I can give into that temptation. I can get distracted with that thing that I know I shouldn't do in 10 minutes. And what I want you to do for those 10 minutes is to do one of two things. You can either get back to the task at hand or you can explore that sensation with curiosity rather than contempt.

Speaker 1:

So many people we find when it comes to distraction, they fall into one of two categories. They're either what we called the blamers, the blamers say, Oh, it's the technology that's doing it. To me, it's that damn chocolate cake. It's Facebook, it's the ice on there are doing it to me, the blamers. Then we have what we call the shamers. The shamers say, Oh, there's something wrong with me. I'm an imposter. I'm not very good. At my job. Maybe I'm broken somehow I'm lazy. They shame themselves. Of course, that makes the problem worse. This is the category I used to fall in because I would go down this shame spiral and I beat myself up and then I'd feel even worse. And so what did I do to escape that bad feeling? More distraction. Right? Right. I was even more primed to look, to distract myself.

Speaker 1:

So we don't want to be blamers. We don't want to be shamers. We want to be claimers claimers claim responsibility for their actions because we can't control how we feel. We don't have control over our feelings. We only can control how we respond to our feelings. And so this stuff isn't your fault. Distraction is not your fault, right? You didn't invent email, you didn't invent the chocolate cake, you didn't invent these things. They're not your fault, but they are your responsibility, right? So how you respond to these things is where we can be responsible. So by instead of impulsively grabbing our phone, getting distracted, doing something will later regret. We want to sit with that sensation for just 10 minutes of doing what psychologists call surfing. The urge, just feeling that sensation like a surfer riding a surfboard. You're surfing the urge because it turns out that emotions tend to crest and then subside just like a wave.

Speaker 1:

Right? And what you'll find is nine times out of 10 by the time that timer runs out, you know, many times I'll just take out my iPhone, I'll say, set a timer for 10 minutes. And my job is to just surf that urge for 10 minutes of contemplation with curiosity rather than contempt. And nine times out of 10 that feeling is gone by the time the timer has has wrong. And I'm back to work on what I said I would be doing. Hmm. I love that. Let's talk about a support system really quick. So is a support system for something like this for implementing these changes? Is it necessary or can you do it in lieu of that support and how do you communicate this to your network? Yeah. Yeah. So half the book is about things that you can do by yourself. Okay. And that's where there's these four steps of becoming indestructable.

Speaker 1:

We've only really talked about one of them, which is to master the internal triggers. The second step is to make time for traction when we can talk about how to do that. The third step is to hack back the external triggers, all the pings and dings and rings in our environment that can lead us to distraction. And then finally, the last step is about preventing distraction with PACS. How we can make a pre-commitment a promise to ourselves or to other people to keep us on track. Now that's what half the book is about. The other half of the book acknowledges that, look, we operate in various environments that shape our behavior, right? If you work in a workplace where your boss is constantly interrupting you, it's not the pings and dings on your cell phone, that's the problem. It's the fact that your colleagues are interrupting you and in fact, in workplace studies, it turns out that the number one source of distraction when they ask office workers, what is the most common source of your distraction?

Speaker 1:

It's not their tech, it's their coworkers. That's most common source of distraction. And so the idea here is that we can Institute various practices to help ourselves do what's called hacking back the external triggers, uh, and, and so simple things like for example, one of the things that I put in the book itself is what I call a screen sign. It's a piece of card stock that you pull out of the book. It's bright red, you fold it into thirds and it makes like a little triangle, like a eye that you put on your computer monitor and you put it on your screen and you can't miss it. So it's, you know, sitting on top of your computer screen and it tells your colleagues, I'm in distractible right now. Please come back later. Right? It's a very simple way to send that message to your colleagues that look for the next 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, whatever it might be.

Speaker 1:

I need time to think. I need time to focus. I need my time to be in distractible. And that's one way to hack back this external trigger of your colleagues coming by your desk and saying, Hey, you won't believe this bit of awesome office gossip or you know, let me just tell you this one thing real quick. Um, so that's one way that we can hack back. Another thing we can do, by the way, back to that second step of making time for traction, is to keep what I call a timeboxed calendar. And this, this is a life changing practice. It's something that you do on your own, right? So you sit down once a week and you plan out your week ahead, right? And I want you to fill in every minute of your day. You don't have to plan out the minute, but you need to account for how you want to spend your time.

Speaker 1:

Now why is this so important? When I interviewed hundreds of people for this book over the past five years, a common trait among every single person who had a problem with distraction was that didn't, they couldn't tell me what they got distracted from. Interesting. So on their calendar, they, you know, they would tell me, I'm so distracted I can't get anything done. I'm, you know, my boss wants this and my kids want that and did you see what happened on Twitter and I can't get anything done. And then I would say, well what did you plan to do today? And they would take out their calendar and there'd be like a dentist appointment or maybe a meeting, right? Maybe they plan a few work tasks, but they'd beat this white space in their day. And of course the fact of the matter is you cannot call something a distraction unless you know what it distracted you from.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. So you have to plan your day or somebody else will, somebody is going to eat up that time unless you decide in advance how you want to turn your values into time. Then after we do that, after we have this time box kiss, we'll worship the ground you walk on. It's so true, right? The bosses love this. They won't ask you to do it because they don't want you to think that you're being micromanaged, but they would love for you to do it. And this is how we manage our managers. This is how we manage up. We sit down with them when we say, look, it takes 15 minutes. By the way, this practice, we say, here's my schedule for the week. Here's how I'm going to spend my time based on all the things you've asked me to do this week. Now there's this other list of things that I can't fit in my calendar.

Speaker 1:

You see all these things that need to get done that I can't put in my day. Help me reprioritize what's important, what's not important. So now you know how we all have heard how important is to say no, right about how if we want to do what we have to say, no. Here's the thing. Now you don't have to say no. Your boss is the one telling you, you know what? I see why you don't have time to do X, Y, Z, but this ABC thing I want you to do, that's much more important. Please prioritize that over something else. So now they're saying no, it's not you saying no. So that is how we and to spread this practice. I love that and I love the fact that you're saying timebox calendar because I think so many people get so overwhelmed with the concept of breaking down their calendar, because I think it needs to be by the five minutes, every single task.

Speaker 1:

I planned to go to the bathroom here and then I'm going to eat lunch there. I'm like, Oh my goodness. It does not need to be that intense at this whole time. Boxing concept really simplifies the fact that you can lead your day out with intention without having to get so finite on the details that it's overwhelming. Right? Exactly. So the idea is to just block out in general how you want to spend your time. It doesn't have to be the by the five minute increments, you know if it's 30 minutes or an hour. But the important thing is to do this practice for one reason, the most important reason to do this practice is so that you can tell the difference between what is traction and what is distraction for every minute of your day. Right. Okay. So that when you say, Oh let me just check email real quick. Well if that's not what you plan to do, it is just as much of a distraction because you plan to work on that big report. You plan to do that other thing that is more important then than the thing that just feels urgent at the moment. Right. It's funny that you mentioned a tag that you have in your book cause we actually got and we have are in a new office and we were having the same thing. Now all of a sudden I felt like I was getting all the

Speaker 2:

time and I was having the same conversations with everybody else and they were feeling the same way and it was to the point where people were saying, well I'm so much more productive when I'm at home. I'm so much more productive when I can work off site and I'm not in the office and I was feeling the same way as well. So I ended up getting a bunch of signs that says I'm in a meeting. And I said, here's the thing, if you need to schedule that meeting with yourself just so that nobody else comes in and that is your indestructable time, then do it. There's no shame. I have meetings with myself every single day and it is the most productive time of my day.

Speaker 1:

Let me tell you, this is a huge competitive advantage. We are so busy reacting all day long. When I do workshops or seminars, I'll ask people who schedules time to think maybe two, maybe two hands in a room of 200 people will go up.

Speaker 2:

Wow. But then I asked, well, who's job requires them to think, right? Every hand goes up, right with the irony, the irony, right? And so what we are doing all day long is reacting to stuff and we have no time for reflection. But look, just making the time to sit and think, to reflect, to strategize. That is a huge competitive advantage these days because nobody's doing it right. And if you care about your career, if you care about your, your, your personal fulfillment, your psychological wellbeing, making that time to focus and think and strategize and plan ahead is incredibly important. Absolutely. There's one example, there's one story Tantalus is curse that you put into this book that I want to go over because it was such an aha for me and I, I just need everybody to hear this because it is. Oh man. Well you kind of go over what that is and why you included it in here.

Speaker 1:

Slowly. So there's this, uh, there's this Greek, uh, story from Greek mythology about Tantalus and, and his name is why we call something tantalizing, something that is desirable but just out of reach. So the story of Tantalus goes like this. Tantalus was cursed by Zeus. He was sent to the underworld where he found himself waiting in a puddle of water and above his head was ripe fruit. And when he got hungry, he would reach for the right fruit, but the fruit tree would recede. It would pull away. So that it was just out of reach. He couldn't reach the right fruit. And when he became thirsty, he would reach down and try and drink and the water would recede away. He couldn't drink. And so his curse was to spend all eternity reaching for things he could not have. He was tantalized by these things that were just out of reach, right?

Speaker 1:

So many people interpret this story as kind of an, uh, a metaphor for the human condition that we constantly want more as human beings, right? That, that the folly of, of mankind is that we want more money, more status, more stuff. But I actually argue that there's a deeper meaning here, that the real meaning of this story is to ask ourselves why was Tantalus reaching for these things in the first place? After all, he's right happen. It's in the underworld. Why? What would happen if Tantalus one day woke up and said, I don't need the fruit and water because I'm dead? What's going to happen? Right? And so that's the lesson for us. What would happen if we didn't respond to every Facebook message? If we didn't answer every email in 30 seconds, if we didn't feel like we needed to know every breaking news story all the time, what would happen, right?

Speaker 1:

Nothing would happen. Nothing bad would happen. And so I think that's the deeper lesson is to ask ourselves, you know, really, are we serving these things or are they serving us? And what we have to ask for all of these various technologies or distractions in our life, no matter what shape or form they take, is to truly ask ourselves, am I serving it or is it serving me? Yes, I love that though. This word, why just keeps coming up over and over and over again. And there's so much power behind it because it gives us the opportunity to put some context behind the actions that we do and the distractions that we partake in and the root cause of all of it. So I absolutely love this now. Okay, so I need to know obviously with your book, and I think it's really easy for people to, to read something like this and to consume this content and to say, wow, nears.

Speaker 1:

Got it all figured out, but I heard you say earlier, I wrote this book for myself, which is what I, I hear a lot of authors say things like that. Man, I was working this out. I just worked it out on paper. I worked it out on stage. So I have a mentor by the name of Gretchen Ruben. You may have read some of her books. She's written some amazing books, like the happiness project, etc. And so she told me research is me-search and I couldn't agree more. I mean, I definitely wrote this book for me more than anyone else and I'm glad other people, you know, I've heard from a lot of people who say, Oh my goodness, it seems like you wrote the book for me. And that's great, because I figured a lot of people, well, I love that. So what is your typical day or week look like now in comparison to what it did before?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Oh my goodness. My life is changed. So dramatic amount. I'll tell you the reason. The book took me five years to write a for the first three years it was because I kept getting distracted. It took me so long. It wasn't until I boil down the most fundamental important techniques and strategies around mastering distraction that I could actually see my productivity accelerate, my, uh, my sense of wellbeing and happiness as much better. I am in better shape now at 41 than I've ever been in my entire life. I exercise consistently. I eat right. I spend quality, more quality time with my daughter, with my wife. My relationship with my wife of 18 years now is better than ever. It's awesome because I've instituted these practices because here's the thing, being the kind of person who lives with personal integrity, someone who does what they say they're going to do, that's the kind of person that people want to hire.

Speaker 1:

It's the kind of person people want to want to work with. It's kind of person that people want to love. People gravitate to those who are dependable and of course to ourselves, right? It's time we stop lying to ourselves. We don't, I wouldn't lie to my daughter. I wouldn't lie to wife, I wouldn't lie to my friends, but I lied to myself every day. I would say I would do one thing and I wouldn't. And that feeling, that guilt, carrying that weight on my shoulders every day and getting to the end of my day and feeling like Ugh, another day, and I didn't do what I said I was going to do. Right? It's a horrible feeling. And that weight's been lifted. Uh, and because of, because I use these four techniques every single day. So I use these techniques to master my internal triggers so that when I feel this discomfort, I respond to it in a healthier manner, leading me towards traction rather than distraction.

Speaker 1:

I plan my day, I turned my values into time, not just by planning my work meetings, not just by planning what I'm going to check, email, et cetera, but also planning the time for the other domains of my life, time with my wife, time with my daughter, time with my friends. That time is in my calendar as well. And time for me. Right? If you value, and I'm not saying what your value should be, right? Values are the attributes of the person you want to become. And I'm not telling you what your values should be, but if you value your health well, do you have time in your schedule for exercise, for proper nutrition, for proper rest? It's not just going to happen. Uh, and, and so that stuff has to be planned for as well. And then hacking back to external triggers. Oh, I've definitely implemented these techniques.

Speaker 1:

I don't sleep with my cell phone anymore. Right? It's in another room. That's a very simple tactic. Very few people do it. Uh, changing the notification settings on your phone. I mean, that's kindergarten stuff. Even though two thirds of people with a smart phone, believe it or not, never change their notification settings. Insane. How can we say that this technology is so addictive and it's hijacking our brains? Really? You haven't, you know, all those news alerts and superfluous, um, uh, triggers all the time and, you know, hacking back meetings, hacking back a group chat. I mean we, I talk about in the book for every single one of these things, how we can make all of these various environments, uh, uh, more distractable, how we can make sure we can hack back those external triggers and then preventing distraction with packets, which is the last step and it has to come last.

Speaker 1:

You can't jump that to the last step. Uh, but you know, one of the, there's, there's three types of packs, three types of pre-commitment that we can make. Uh, one of them is an effort packed where we have some bit of friction in between what we do and the potential distractions. So something that makes it a little bit more difficult to do. So something I did in, in my household, um, uh, you know, my wife and I found that day after day we would go to bed later and later, right? And this was impacting our relationship. It was definitely impacting our quality of sleep. And so we decided to use this, what we call an effort packed, uh, by buying this $10 outlet timer at the house hardware store. And we plugged our internet router into this outlet timer so that every night at 10:00 PM, our internet shuts off.

Speaker 1:

Hmm. Now I could of course go fiddle with it, right? I could go turn it back on, but that requires a bit of effort. And so now choice. Exactly. So now I have to be mindful as opposed to doing this behavior in a mindless fashion. And so, so that's, that's very, very helpful. This effort packed. And now, you know, of course they come with these routers. Now come with as many, uh, come with this feature built right in so you can turn off some devices, not others. So that's one example of an effort pack. There are all kinds of others, uh, other, uh, uh, packs that are effort packs that we can make. There's also what we call price pact where we have some kind of financial disincentive to do something we don't want to do. But my favorite of the three packs is what we call an identity packed.

Speaker 1:

And identity packed is when we use some kind of moniker, some kind of identity to help us stay on track. And this comes from the psychology of religion, that when someone calls themselves an observant Muslim or a devout Christian, or even a a vegetarian, you become much more likely to do what you say you are. So a vegetarian doesn't wake up every morning and say, Oh, I wonder if I'm going to eat a a bacon sandwich today. No, a vegetarian doesn't eat meat. It is who they are. So this is why the book is called indestructible. Because what I want to start is this movement of people who say to themselves as well as others, I am in, this is the kind of person I am now. We've been here before and I know it's uncomfortable for a lot of people, but I, I wanna I wanna take you back a few years. Uh, I'm not sure how old you are, but I remember when I was growing up, some of my first memories, I remember people coming over to my home in the early eighties sitting in our living room and we had ashtrays in our living room. Even though my parents didn't smoke because people expected when they came to visit, they would just light up a cigarette. That's just what people did. Whether they didn't care whether you smoked or not, they expected to smoke in your home. Can you? Can you imagine if someone did that today?

Speaker 1:

And so that's, that's that. How did that behavior change? Right? What happened? Was it because of legislation? No, there's never been a law that says you can't smoke in someone's private residence. What changed was the norms. People stood up and said, no, that's not what I do here. Why? Because that's not who I am. So my mother, she hated people when people smoked in the home. But for years she just sucked it up because that's what people expected. And then one day she said, you know what? We are not smokers. If you want to smoke, go outside. Right. I'm telling you, she lost friends over this. Wow. People thought this was so weird, so rude to ask someone to go outside to smoke that she lost friends. Wow. But of course today everybody does this and nobody would have even imagined that they would smoke in your living room without asking them, and so that's what we need to do that our relationship right now with this current breed of distractions that come in the form of your technologies, we need to stand up and say, look, I am in distractible.

Speaker 1:

This is the kind of life I want to live. I want to be the kind of person who lives their life with intent, who does what they say they're going to do. I don't want my life constantly interrupted with all these pings and dings and does that mean I do a few weird things? Yeah. Do I schedule every minute of my day? Yeah. That's what it requires. Do I put this screen sign on my computer monitor? Yeah. That's what being in distractible is about. Is it any more weird than someone who wears unusual religious garb or someone who eats an unusual diet? I don't think so. And so we can use this moniker, this identity of saying this is who I am in order to make us much more likely to do what we say we're going to do as well as affecting the social change that we need to spread what we call social antibodies.

Speaker 1:

That this is what happened with smoking. And I think this is what's happening today when it comes to the appropriate or inappropriate use of technology. My goodness, I could talk to you all day long because you have just such a fantastic mind of a thank you. I mean there's a, there's a quote that says the, I can't remember who said it, so I may butcher it, but the essence of it says that the, uh, the cure for boredom is curiosity. There's no cure for curiosity. I love it. I really love that. Right? So the reason I write my books, the reason I do what I do is because I'm looking for the answer. Yes. That's why I keep searching and writing and processing is because I have a problem in my life that, you know, I typically, if I have something that I'm struggling with, I'll think about it myself and I'll, you know, nine times out of 10, I'll figure it out.

Speaker 1:

If I still can't figure out, I'll go buy books about it. I'll see what others have researched and written about it. Uh, and you know, most of the time then I find my answers if I still haven't found the answer, you know, if I, and this is what happened when it came to distraction, I read every book on the topic. They all said it was about a, the technology's fault. Stop using technology, a bunch of professors without social media accounts and email accounts telling me not to use these technologies, that wouldn't work for me. So eventually I said, you know, I've got to figure this out for myself. And so that's why I dove into the, you know, five years of research all these citations to make sure that I could figure this out for myself. So I think it's really about following your curiosity.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And do you make it a very intentional effort to surround yourself with people who feel the same way? Yeah, so, so some of, one of my favorite authors is Carol Dweck who did her own research around growth mindset. It's a, she, she's done some fantastic work. If you get a chance to, you know, if anybody listening hasn't read her her books, it's fantastic. It's mindset. Uh, and so my wife and I always talk about when we, when we, uh, think about, you know, friends we want to add to our life, we always ask ourselves, is this someone with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Is this someone who says I am what I am? Or is this someone who says I can be better if I try? I love that. Well this is fantastic near thank you so much. This has been absolutely wonderful.

Speaker 1:

There's so much value in this and I hope that all of our listeners will come back to it again and again. Cause I think this is the kind of episode that you can learn from multiple times over. For all of those people who are going to want to know more about you, find more about you. Obviously you've got your, your books and distractible, you have hooked, um, where else can they find more of you? Yeah, so my website is near and far.com but near a spell like my first name and I are, and if you want more information about indestructable specifically the book again is called indestructable, how to control your attention and choose your life. It's available wherever books are sold. And if you go to indestructable.com there is a complimentary 80 page workbook that you can get totally free. Uh, and if you do end up buying the book, if you send me your order number@indestructable.com there's a form to do that, I'll give you access to a video course as well. That's a great compliment to the book. Awesome. NIR, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it. Uh, my sincere pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for joining me today on the conquering chaos podcast. I'd love to know what you thought of this episode. So take a quick screenshot and tag me on social at Barony Hooley or leave me a review so I can share the love. Thanks again. I hope you're leading, feeling empowered to get out there and conquer some chaos.