Indistractable - Nir Eyal

Indistractable - Nir Eyal

Video Book Summary

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Book Summary Notes


“The fact is, in this day and age, if you are not equipped to manage distraction, your brain will be manipulated by time-wasting diversions."

"In the next few pages, I’ll reveal my own struggle with distraction, and how I, ironically, got hooked. But I’ll also share how I overcame struggle and explain why we are much more powerful than any of the tech giants. As an industry insider, I know their Achilles’ heel—and soon you will too."

"The good news is that we have the unique ability to adapt to such threats. We can take steps right now to retrain and regain our brains. To be blunt, what other choice do we have? We don’t have time to wait for regulators to do something, and if you hold your breath waiting for corporations to make their products less distracting, well, you’re going to suffocate."

"In the future, there will be two kinds of people in the world: those who let their attention and lives be controlled and coerced by others and those who proudly call themselves ‘indistractable.’ By opening this book, you’ve taken the first step toward owning your time and your future."

"But you’re just getting started. For years you’ve been conditioned to expect instant gratification. Think of getting to the last page of Indistractable as a personal challenge to liberate your mind."

"The antidote to impulsiveness is forethought. Planning ahead ensures you will follow through. With the techniques in this book, you’ll learn exactly what to do from this day forth to control your attention and choose your life.”

Are you being manipulated by time wasting diversions?

I think as Nir says here if you aren't you are an outlier..

Being an industry insider Nir has a first hand look at how Big Tech has crafted their platforms to be time sucking addiction creating machines! 

But it's also a great relief that we have access to someone like him who can help us navigate this new world..

How much time are you and your peers wasting?

People I've worked with have used a time tracking spreadsheet and found they might be wasting up to 10 hours a day!

Some of the top performers found they were wasting 6 hours..  

6 hours over a full year is almost 2200 hours.. That's a scary amount!

The contents of this book are going to change your life..

Think that's too strong a statement?  Think about the 10,000 hour rule..

By adopting some of these techniques you might be able to claw back half that time..  1000 hours a year!

Meaning in 10 years you could be an industry expert in any NEW chosen field!  That's crazy..

Some of you might just have a similar story to Nir where he was just spending too much time on tech and not with his family..  Something even more valuable!


“Imagine a line that represents the value of everything you do throughout your day. To the right, the actions are positive; to the left, they are negative."

"On the right side of the continuum is traction, which comes from the Latin trahere, meaning ‘to draw or pull.’ We can think of traction as the actions that draw us toward what we want in life."  

"On the left side is distraction, the opposite of traction. Derived from the same Latin root, the word means the ‘drawing away of the mind.’ Distractions impede us from making progress toward the life we envision.

"All behaviors, whether they tend toward traction or distraction, are prompted by triggers, internal or external.” 

What is the opposite?

So many of us feel distracted..  But what's the opposite of distraction?

  • Nir has pointed out here that it's actually traction..  Doing things that move us towards what we really want!
  • That means that distraction isn't just surfing the internet.. It's the act of doing things that move us away from what we really want!

Great question to ask yourself..  Why am I choosing distraction over traction?

Often times traction can be difficult: 

  • Stress
  • Fear of Failure
  • Mental Energy

No wonder we tend towards distraction!

It's interesting to think how we create the optimal environment for distraction..

  • Are the tools really the cause of the distraction?
  • Or are they feeding into something that we actually want?

Root Cause

“Consider the game of pool. What makes the colored balls go into the pockets? Is it the white ball, the stick, or the player’s actions? We understand that while the white cue ball and stick are necessary, the root cause is the player. The white cue ball and stick aren’t the root causes; they are the proximate causes of the resulting event."

"In the game of life, it’s often hard to see the root cause of things. When we’re passed over for a promotion, we might blame that cunning coworker for taking our job instead of reflecting on our lack of qualifications and initiative. When we get into a fight with our spouse, we might blame the conflict on one tiny incident, like a toilet seat left up, instead of acknowledging years of unresolved issues. And when we scapegoat our political and ideological opponents for the world’s troubles, we choose not to seek to understand the deeper systemic reasons behind the problems."

"These proximate causes have something in common—they help us deflect responsibility onto something or someone else. It’s not that the cue ball and stick don’t factor into the equation, just like the coworker or toilet seat, but they certainly aren’t responsible for the outcome. Without understanding and tackling the root causes, we’re stuck being helpless victims in a tragedy of our own creation."

"The distractions in our lives are the result of the same forces—they are proximate causes that we think are to blame, while the root causes stay hidden. We tend to blame things like television, junk food, social media, cigarettes, and video games—but these are proximate causes of our distraction.”

What is the root cause of distraction?

Well..  Surfing the internet, scrolling on social media and watching YouTube are the proximate causes!

  • They are the ball and the stick.. 
  • They are what we see as 'the problem' but infact they are the symptom of a deeper underlying problem..

What is that problem?

  • Well Nir calls it in the book Internal Triggers..
  • Really it's the inability to deal with emotional discomfort!

Some example of internal triggers..

  • Boredom?  Surf the internet..  
  • Uncertainty?  YouTube for the answer..
  • Loneliness?  Social media scrolling..


“Recently, however, scientists have examined the theory [that willpower is finite] more critically, and several have soured on the idea."  

"Evan Carter at the University of Miami was one of the first to challenge Baumeister’s findings. In a 2010 meta-analysis (a study of studies), Carter looked at nearly two hundred experiments that concluded ego depletion was real."

"Upon closer inspection, however, he identified a ‘publication bias,’ in which studies that produced contradictory evidence were not included. When factoring in their results, he concluded there was no firm evidence supporting the ego depletion theory."

"Furthermore, some of the more magical aspects of the theory, like the idea that sugar can increase willpower, have been thoroughly debunked.”

How many times have you heard 'willpower is finite'?

Seems like that's stated in every 'wake up early book'

  • While waking up early might still be a great way to get a lot done..  It's not for the reasons we initially thought!
  • Willpower is not finite!  It doesn't drip out of the bucket as the day goes on.. 

Well..  Except for one group of people!

  • The ones who believe it does!  
  • What does that mean for you?

Stop telling yourself that you have a finite amount of willpower..

Because it's simply not true unless you think it is!

Instead..  Let's think about the fixed vs growth mindset!

  • Think..  I don't have the ability or energy to do this now! 
  • But eventually I will..  And today I can take a step in the right direction.

Make Time

“Whatever our values may be, it’s helpful to categorize them into various life domains, a concept that is thousands of years old. The Stoic philosopher Hierocles demonstrated the interconnected nature of our lives with concentric circles illustrating a hierarchical balance of duties." 

"He placed the human mind and body at the center, followed by close family in the next ring, then extended family, then fellow members of one’s tribe, then inhabitants of one’s town or city, fellow citizens and countrymen next, finishing with all humanity in the outermost ring."

"Inspired by his example, I created a way to simplify and visualize the three life domains where we spend our time... you, relationships, and work."

"These three domains outline where we spend our time. They give us a way to think about how we plan our days so that we can become an authentic reflection of the people we want to be.”

Does your calendar reflect your values?

Now..  We know that the opposite of distraction is traction!  

  • That means that if we're to live a less distracted life we need to make time for it!
  • There are a lot of applications and techniques of doing this..  Including a simple calendar.  Check out Nir's website for more on that!

But..  Here is an interesting point!  What should we make time for?

  • The three most important things Nir talks about (in order) are ourselves, relationships and work!
  • Think about this:

How are you creating time for yourself?

How are you creating time for your relationships?

How are you creating time for your best work?

Something I see with all my clients..

  • Almost inevitably when I work with entrepreneurs I see this section flipped!
  • Their most important priority is work and then their relationships and finally themselves..  
  • How are you going to possibly bring your best to all areas when the values are flipped in the wrong direction?
  • Often when I work with these people they don't even have a schedule!  They just allow things to come to them.

Quite simply..  

You will not make time for exercise unless you plan it!

You will not have healthy relationships during hard times unless it's a habit..

You will not create your best work unless you set aside time for it!

Hacking Back

“In 2007, B.J. Fogg, founder of Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab, taught a class on ‘mass interpersonal persuasion.’ Several of the students in attendance would later pursue careers applying his methods at companies like Facebook and Uber. Mike Krieger, a cofounder of Instagram, created a prototype of the app in Fogg’s class that he eventually sold for $1 billion."

"As a student at Stanford’s business school at the time, I attended a retreat at Fogg’s home, where he taught his methods of persuasion in more depth. Learning from him firsthand was a turning point in my understanding of human behavior. He taught me a new formula that changed the way I viewed the world."

"The Fogg Behavior Model states that for a behavior (B) to occur, three things must be present at the same time: motivation (M), ability (A), and a trigger (T). More succinctly, B = MAT."

"Motivation is ‘energy for action,’ according to Edward Deci, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. When we’re highly motivated, we have a strong desire, and the requisite energy, to take action, and when we’re not motivated, we lack the energy to perform a task."

"Meanwhile, in Fogg’s formula, ability relates to facility of action. Quite simply, the harder something is to do, the less likely people are to do it. Conversely, the easier something is to do, the more likely we are to do it."

"When people have sufficient motivation and ability, they’re primed for certain behavior. However, without the critical third component, the behavior will not occur. A trigger to tell us what to do next is always required. We discussed internal triggers in a previous section, but when it comes to the products we use every day and the interruptions that lead to distraction, external triggers—stimuli in our environment that prompt us to act—play a big role.”

What external triggers are you paying attention too?

Big Tech wants you to be paying attention to their triggers..

  • Push notifications 
  • Email notifications 
  • Texts and etc

They want you to pay attention to those things simply because their #1 revenue resource is your attention..

  • They understand that in order to get you to do something they need to give you a trigger!
  • But we can use this to our advantage..  See tech isn't all bad!
  • Some of those applications are actually additive to our lives..  But what is bad is them controlling our actions instead of us controlling them!

That's where hacking back external triggers comes in!

  • Turn off all the non-essential notifications on your smart phone..  
  • Don't leave email or IM open 24/7
  • Block websites or applications that are easily distracting when you won't be using them..
  • All simple things..  That so few of us do!  Let them go.. They don't add to our lives!

How can we use B=MAT to our advantage?

  • Think about how the formula works..  
  • Can you find a way to get a higher level of motivation?
  • Can you find a way to become more competent?
  • Finally what triggers can you setup to get you started?

Final Level

“With that in mind, what identity should we take on to help fight distraction?"

"It should now be clear why this book is called Indistractable. Welcome to your new moniker! By thinking of yourself as indistractable, you empower yourself through your new identity." 

"You can also use this identity as a rationale to tell others why you do ‘strange’ things like meticulously plan your time, refuse to respond to every notification immediately, or put a sign on your screen when you don’t want to be disturbed. These acts are no more unusual than other expressions of identity, like wearing religious garb or eating a particular diet. It’s time to be indistractable and proud!”

Identity is a powerful way to change your habits..

James Clear says in Atomic Habits

  • "The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first."
  • That is what Nir is showing us here..  Create the identity of someone who isn't distractable!

Identity pacts as a way to train your identity..

"By making identity pacts, we are able to build the self-image we want. Whether the behavior is related to what we eat, how we treat others, or how we manage distraction, this technique can help shape our behavior to reflect our values. Though we often assume our identity is fixed, our self-image is, in fact, flexible and is nothing more than a construct in our minds. It’s a habit of thought, and, as we’ve learned, habits can be changed for the better.”

How can you setup your life so that your identity is related to a habit you want to create?

Simply by creating a pact..  There are many different ways to do so lined out in the book!

Pact: "a formal agreement between individuals or parties."

YouTube Channel and Coaching

One of the reasons I started this YouTube channel is because I wanted to read more..  

But I could never get myself to continue reading or at the very least have real information to take away from the books!

But by creating this pact to create one video a week I'm ethically forcing myself to be the person who creates these videos and therefore reads these books..

Content creation is a great way to create a pact..  Once you have an audience expecting content from you you're much more likely to work on it more vigorously.

This is hacking your motivation as we talked about in the B=MAT formula!

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