The Currencies Of Time And Attention
Nothing vast enters the lives of mortals without a curse – Sophocles
This time condensed wisdom from a very wise man (not me 😊). Nir Eyal is the bestselling author of Hooked (2014) and Indistractable (2019) and I came across a very good podcast of Nir and Shane Parrish (Farnam Street) discussing Mastering Indistraction. While I have tried my best to summarise the key points, I would encourage you to check out the podcast episode yourself, link at the end of the blog.
The timing was particularly apt as I have been wrestling with the question of screen time and how much of it is good, both for us and our kids. Like most things in life, there is no correct answer and the truth is always nuanced, but the podcast does offer a very balanced view and helps provide a good perspective.
Many of us cannot choose to be away from our phones. Technology is a great enabler for us to lead better lives, get more done and expand our horizons. However some of the same technologies also lead us to be less productive and hold us from being our best. So how does one deal with this?
Most of the distractions beings from within. It is not dependent on external factors but internal factors. Boredom, fatigue, uncertainity, anxiety. Time management requires pain management. All human behaviour is driven by avoiding discomfort. We can choose to avoid discomfort in a healthy or unhealthy way.
Addiction and distraction are different things. We need to gain back control. Traction is the opposite of distraction. Any distraction can be converted into traction by scheduling time for it so that we can do things as per our agenda.
We need to make choices. We can choose to spend 1 hour on social media or 2 hours on the play station. That is not distraction. Distraction is what takes us away from what we are doing and what we want to do.
We pay attention. We spend our time. No wonder we have been always told that time is money. No it is not just a saying. This is real. Spend your time wisely on things that are important to you.
If something is really important and needs to be done, it needs to be on your calendar, not on your to do list. Putting time against a task helps to finish it by actually spending time on it. Tip – filling up your calendar with things is not good either.
Blamers – social media is addictive, my boss/spouse/kids. Shamers – I have a short attention span/there must be something wrong with me. Claimer – while we can’t change how we feel, how do we react to an emotional trigger can be changed, with practice. The podcast has some very good tips on dealing with external and internal triggers.
Indistractible is not about never getting distracted. It is about realising the triggers that lead to distraction and doing things to get the control back. External triggers, internal triggers, lack of planning.
Work is Reflective or Reactive. Reactive time keeps you busy responding to triggers. Reflective work is difficult and is a big competitive edge. It is a good idea to keep time throughout the day to respond to mails and messages. It is not such a great idea to keep looking for the latest mail and message to respond to.
This is in no way a template. Please pick up and implement what works for you. And while I haven’t read the books yet, I plan to correct that very soon 😊