In a Medium post about his new book Indistractable, Nir Eyal, a design expert and Stanford lecturer, shares an anecdote that will be instantly familiar to any modern parent--and to you, as a business owner who faces distractions at every turn.
"If you could have any superpower, what would it be?" Eyal asks his daughter. But before she can answer, Eyal's phone buzzes and an email distracts him from the conversation.
"I wish I could tell you what she said in that moment, but I can't. While she was telling me her dream superpower, I was busy staring at my phone," Eyal recalls. "By the time I looked up, she had left the room. I'd blown a perfect daddy-daughter moment because I was distracted." At that moment he decided on his dream superpower. Forget flying or X-ray vision, Eyal wanted to be indistractable. Eyal wrote a whole book to figure out how to get there. Here are some insights from the book that can help you get there, too.
Schedule your day to become indistractable.
The fact that concentration isn't an everyday skill, but a full-on superpower, says a lot about how we've designed our modern world. One of Eyal's suggestions to improve your focus is already popular with some of the world's most productive people, including Elon Musk and Bill Gates.
It's called timeboxing, or a zero-based calendar, and it boils down to scheduling literally every minute of your day, even periods you devote to daydreaming or eating breakfast.
That might sound like a level of organization only required of billionaire moguls, but Eyal offers a version of the technique that anyone can use. Startup RescueTime has a helpful in-depth explainer. Here are the basics:
Reflect on your priorities. Why are you doing this? Knowing what your goals are will help you decide what to schedule and how you'll put it into your day.
Start with your routine. Most basic tasks--meals, exercise, spending time with loved ones--follow a daily rhythm. Start filling in your calendar with those activities, such as "Eat breakfast and get ready" every day from 6 to 7 a.m.
Schedule your most focused tasks. Now that you have a basic framework for your day, schedule in the most complex and meaningful tasks that demand unbroken blocks of concentration.
Block out "reactive" time. Deep work is important, but that's not your entire day. You need time to react to stuff and put out fires, so block out reactive time each day.
Add a daily to-do list. What's left? All the little minutiae of day-to-day life. "Write out your tasks for the day and fit them into the appropriate slots," instructs RescueTime.
Is this time consuming? Sure, timeboxing demands real effort. But Eyal suggests if you want to tame your distractions and control how you spend your time (and your life), you should take the time to schedule every minute.