Achieve More Every Day – Here’s How…
A few weeks ago, I had the most puzzling day.
It was a Friday, so I woke up a little later than normal, but not much. I picked up my phone off of my night stand and read a few news stories.
I got up and went about my morning process. As I waited for the coffee maker, I scrolled through a few more articles and chatted with my sons as they ate breakfast.
At the office, I knew I had deadlines to meet, but for some strange reason, I wasn’t making much progress. It felt like I was moving through quicksand, and even though I was aware that time was slipping by, I couldn’t move forward quickly enough…
Team members came in for quick chats….
And the emails kept popping up….
And the phone kept ringing….
And the messages kept coming in.
Next thing I knew, it was the evening – approaching time to go home – and when I reviewed what I’d accomplished that day, it was almost nothing. This was so frustrating, and yet, I couldn’t pinpoint one exact thing that made the day go sideways.
After thinking about it for awhile, it hit me. It wasn’t waking up late or taking a few extra minutes to chat while making coffee, or responding to the growing pile of emails that robbed me of my productive day…
It Was All Of These Little Distractions Put Together
Because of each little thing that robbed me of my focus, I spent very little of the day in work mode… and a whole lot of the day in distracted mode.
I’m sure you’ve had a day like this before. We all have them from time to time – and some of us have them more than others.
Maybe you have a coworker or family member who’s like that – always the last one to get their work in, slow at anything you give them, the least likely to get an important task accomplished…
Or maybe it’s even you.
Either way, wouldn’t it be great if we could all gain focus and clarity whenever we wanted?
Just think of how much we could achieve together if we just because “indistractable”…
OK, so indistractable isn’t really a word yet – but it soon will be if my recent guest Nir Eyal has anything to say about it.
Nir is a lecturer, an investor, and a New York Times best-selling author, and his work examinesthe hidden psychology driving us to distraction.
He was named The Prophet of Habit-Forming Technology by the M.I.T. Tech Review, and his work has been featured in TechCrunch, the Harvard Business Review, and Psychology Today.
Indistractable – How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life is the title of his latest book, and the skill taught within is being called “the most important skill of the new century”.
When he visited me on London Real, Nir explained that the best way to stop distraction from taking control is to prevent it before it ever starts with one of three different methods.
You see, no matter what it is you’re trying to do – whether it’s accomplishing a full day of work like I was trying to do, or something else like losing weight, writing a book, or even just playing a game of Monopoly with your kids – the key is not to force yourself through with willpower.
Willpower Works For A While, But It’s Hard And Eventually, It Fails
Instead, the key is to make it easy to succeed by limiting your distractions before they get in the way – and you can do that with planning ahead and using one of three simple precommitments or “pacts”.
Nir explains, “The antidote to impulsiveness is forethought…. There is no distraction that we can’t overcome with forethought… We can plan today to make sure we don’t get distracted tomorrow.”
And you do that planning by making a pact with yourself.
The first kind of pact is an effort pact.
In an effort pact, you put friction or effort between you and the thing you don’t want to do. If you’re a habitual sit-on-the-couch and drink beer kind of guy, and you’ve decided to quit drinking, that means you just don’t keep beer in the house. You’ll have to drive to the store and buy beer any time you want one…
Even if the store is just a few miles away, that extra bit of effort will stop you from drinking again and again. After all, you’ll have to put on your shoes, get in the car, drive, go into the store, make the transaction, and then come all the way home before you even get to crack open your first beer. Sure, it might be worth all the effort some of the time, but most of the time? It just won’t be, and the next thing you know, your drinking habit will become a not-drinking habit.
The next kind of pace is a price pact.
A price pact is when there’s a monetary disincentive attached to doing the thing you don’t want to do. Nir’s example comes from the most effective smoking cessation study ever. In this study, there were three groups of smokers. The first group could have as much of the information about smoking and complete access to conventional methods of quitting smoking like nicotine gum and patches. The second group was told if they quit smoking entirely for six months (and follow that up with periodic testing), they would receive $800. For the third group, they did something different – group three could also win a prize, but that prize was a little less at $650, and in order to participate, they had to pay $150. If they made it through, they’de get their $150 back and then $650 on top of it.
Group three was far and away the most successful – seven times more successful, in fact -because they had some “skin in the game”. They didn’t want to lose their money, so they had effectively made a price pact that kept them from smoking.
And the final – and perhaps most powerful – kind of pact is an identity pact.
An identity pact is basically the pact you implicitly make with yourself when you identify yourself as something. You could think of yourself as a runner, or a Mormon, or a manager – all of these identities come with a set of rules you’ll implicitly follow.
Take vegetarians for example. When someone is a vegetarian, they’re not constantly worried that they’re going to mess up and eat ham tonight, nor are they focused on how much they miss hamburgers. Those thoughts never cross their minds because they identity as vegetarians.
They are people who don’t eat meat – period – so they never have to struggle with these dilemmas. By assuming the identity of whatever it is you aspire to be, you’ll instantly have an easier time following the rules that will get you to that point.
What would you like to change about your life? And which of these three pacts could you use to change it?
Once you’ve got that figured out, you’re well on your way to living a better, more fulfilling life – all by becoming indistractible.
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored