Let me tell you about a book which I have no intention of buying. I will also tell you why.
Currently, it is ranking #4 in the Workplace Culture books category on Amazon.
It’s got a typically long title “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” by Nir Eyal. (This is not an affiliate link).
It teaches you all about how to lead a distraction-free existence and so you will become indestructible — sorry, couldn’t resist that one!
I have just read the reviews and comments and based on this “scientific analysis”, I have decided the book is not for me.
I will also explain how we can easily deal with distractions and more importantly why we need them.
Worried about all those emails?
Distracted by emails in your box and an iPhone which take far too much of your attention so you get nothing done? This book is not for you because I will show you a few easier ways.
If you are worried about emails, rest assured that about 50% of these either don’t need any response from you or should never have been sent to you in the first place.
For all other emails, press#4. Seriously, all you need to do is to turn off notifications and schedule about 5 minutes an hour just to check for those nasty urgent ones. Those are the ones that if you do not answer will get you labeled as a slow communicator!
The rest of the time you can use to get on with your day and life.
Have you heard about timeboxing?
This is one of the main methods to get round distraction mentioned in the book. All you have to do is to plan your day rigorously so that every minute is accounted for.
Yes, you read that right — every minute. Now that is scary.
This micro-planning is simply a way to identify what we should have been doing the moment we were distracted!
That will spur us on to do it or make us more alarmed at our procrastination and so on.
The author seems to have forgotten one important fact about the human attention span. It only lasts for about 12 -14 minutes. We cannot really focus for any longer than that and we will automatically zone out.
High-tech companies have made billions and trillions of dollars by satisfying our craving for distractions. Apps are addictive and they make money for their creators.
Go for black and white on your smartphone.
An easy way to stop all distractions caused by your smartphone is just going to “Settings” and switch on the black and white mode. This is sometimes called gray-scale.
You will be less attracted to the lack of color and you will use your phone much less.
You might even go out and enjoy some real colors in nature for a change.
Honestly, would you buy a black and white packet of cookies? I doubt it.
Big brother or sister is watching you work.
The book mentions how you can actually invest in Focusmate. This “great” tool allows you to work together with a total stranger and you can keep an eye on each other via the webcams. This, apparently will keep you on your toes and you will get more done, faster.
Can you imagine the conversation when you get up to go to the bathroom or simply want a coffee?
It is also like inviting a total stranger or weirdo into your home and they are watching you all the time while you write that wonderful post for Medium. Not for me!
Why we need distractions and downtime
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” — Pascal
Why do you think Bill Gates goes off to a forest cabin just for thinking time and switching off? He does that twice a year for two weeks each time.
Most people are uneasy about being left alone and just having time to sit and think. In one experiment, men and women were left alone in a lab and their only “entertainment” was the chance to give themselves an electric shock, just in case they got too bored.
The results show that 67% of the men and only 25% of the women opted for the shock treatment because they were so uncomfortable being left alone with their thoughts!
Now we know why apps, phones, and computers are so successful. There is a subtle message telling us that we are missing out or even being lazy if we just sit down and switch off in every sense of the word.
We need to be distracted and we cannot be constantly on the go all the time. We need naps too. Why do you think forward-looking companies have encouraged their employees to take a nap when they need one?