Imagine being strapped into a powerful race car with the skills and expertise to drive it like you stole it. Vast reservoirs of power are instantly accessible to you and nothing can stop you. That’s what it feels like to be focused and indistractable. There’s a corresponding feeling of confidence and trust in yourself. Trust that you can achieve what you set out to achieve because it’s now in your power to do so.
That’s the effect the book ‘Indistractable’ had on me.
If you read it the book you’ll find that it’s a simple book with large print and easy readability. The intellectual within you might turn your nose at it. That would be a foolish thing to do. The book has the power to be life changing if you apply the concepts shared within it.
In this book review I’ll share the following:
- 3 themes the book explores
- 4 practical tips from the book
- Life after reading and applying the book
Three powerful themes explored in the book
Three themes that really stood out to me after completing the book are:
- Traction vs Distraction
- Distraction as a way of escaping uncomfortable emotions
- Escaping the tyranny of your phone.
Lets dive in.
Theme 1: Traction vs Distraction
What do you want?
It’s helpful to have an answer to this question. From moment to moment, from day to day, from week to week, month to month and year to year, know what you want.
If you don’t know what you want to build how will you ever build it? It will always be easier to hop on your phone and mindlessly scroll that time away, or fill it with inconsequential things that aren’t really aligned with your values.
When you know what you want and put in the time and focus to get it- that’s traction. It’s the opposite of distraction.
To be less distracted it really helps if you know what you want to create.
Theme 2: Distraction as a way of escaping uncomfortable emotions
Facing a problem or needing to be focused in the present moment requires focus and patience and can make you feel uncomfortable.
Checking out what’s in the fridge, or picking up a magazine, or picking up your phone, or talking to your co-worker…. all these are easier and more fun. These activities can be used as a tool to escape uncomfortable emotions. But facing the discomfort is what you need to do in order to achieve what you want to achieve.
I’ve found that knowing this has been helpful. When I’ve felt uncomfortable it’s been a signal to really stick with it and not leave the battlefield so to speak. I’ve also noticed at work, that in brainstorming meetings after it seems like we’ve exhausted all ideas I have a tendency to want to wrap things up neatly. But the top performers stay in the discomfort. They sit there, feeling mentally exhausted but willing to wait longer because they know that there are even more ideas waiting for them if they just stick it out.
Theme 3: Escape the tyranny of your phone
These are the three themes that really stood out to me when reading the book. It’s the prescriptions that the book provides that will help you become indistractable.
Our phones. I love my phone. It’s so useful to me that I could never go back to a basic phone like some people do. But something to be aware of is that the creators of your phone and the creators of apps that live on your phone don’t have your best interests at heart. It’s in their interest to keep you as engaged on your phone as possible. While you’re immersed on your phone, time is slipping by. If you escape the vortex of your phone you’ll find that there’s a lot of living to do.
Four badass recommendations to implement
There are four prescriptions the book recommended that I’m using, benefiting from and loving. They are:
- Use pre-commitments to lock yourself into excellence
- Schedule time for what’s important for you
- Make your phone dumb
- Use an app that rewards you for staying off your phone
Prescription 1: Use pre-commitments to lock yourself into excellence
When you were a kid you may have heard the Greek legend of Odysseus. He was sailing his ship and knew that his ship would pass by an island where the Sirens would be singing. The Sirens would sing beautiful songs and the sound of their music would be magnetic. Sailors would sail their ship to the island so they could hear some more. But when they did so their ship would hit the rocks and they would die.
So Odysseus pre-committed. He instructed his sailors to cover their ears with beeswax. He wanted to hear the music though, so he told them to tie him to the mast of the ship. The sailors wouldn’t hear the songs and wouldn’t be tempted, and he’d be tied to the mast and couldn’t steer the ship towards the island.
That’s pre-committing. That’s deciding what you want to do ahead of time, and setting things up so it is very difficult for you to back out of your commitment.
I LOVE pre-commitments and highly recommend you use them to transform your life for the better.
One pre-commitments that worked really well for me was around working out. if I didn’t workout Monday — Friday I had to pay my work colleague $20 cash the very next day. It was extremely effective at getting me to workout. Prior to this pre-commitment I’d say I did 20% of my workouts. My workout history was very inconsistent. NOW…. it’s my new religion. Monday to Friday I sacrifice myself to the workout gods and they reward me with strength, speed and warrior physique.
In the 8 months of having this pre-commitment I only missed three workouts. That’s 3 out of 96 workouts.
I think the tool of pre-commitment is really useful when there’s something you want to do but find it really easy to not do it and procrastinate on it a lot.
Prescription 2: Schedule time for what’s important for you
“My father has a bumper sticker on the back of his car that says, ‘This is your life, not a dress rehearsal.’ Now is the time to take action toward accomplishing whatever dreams, ideas or aspirations may be lingering in the back of your mind.” Joshua Rosenthal — Founder of IIN
If something’s important to you — put it in your calendar 😃
If something’s not important to you — cut it off without mercy. It is killing you. It is stealing time away from what’s important to you.
When you do this- you realise you’ve got way more time than you think.
Before scheduling my time I used to think I couldn’t get anything done Monday — Friday as that’s when I’m at my job. I thought and felt the only proactive thing I could do was go to the gym, and even doing that was a stretch. But I was a king at scrolling on Instagram. And I was really up to date on Netflix. But didn’t have the time or energy for my dreams 😢
Now that I schedule my time I’ve found there’s so much I can do in a day it’s bloody f**ing awesome. I’ve got time to: work 8hrs, write for 2hrs, read for 90 mins, workout for an hr, journal, chat and chill with my wife and play with the dog. That’s just on a regular workday. Imagine what you could do by scheduling what’s important for you and making it a must.
Prescription 3: Make your phone dumb so you can focus more
Imagine you’re running a race. You’re on a running track and thousands of people are cheering you on. Your body is gliding through the air as your feet make effortless rapid contact with the ground, each step propelling you forward.
Then a wasp lands on your shoulder. It doesn’t bite. It just lands on your shoulder. You brush it off. Then a random dog jumps out of the crowd and runs towards you. What the hell!?! Then another wasp lands on you.
You’re not in the zone as much anymore are you?
Your focus has been taken away by random distractions.
That’s what notifications on your phone are like. Random ‘what the hell’s’ that take you out of your flow.
Turn your notifications off and you’ll find its easier to be indistractable.
Even better — turn your phone off when you want to be focused and in the zone.
Prescription 4: Use an app that rewards you for being indistractable and focused
Using this app changed my world. It gamified focusing and made it fun. The app is called Forest.
Here’s how it works. The app rewards your focus by creating a virtual forest. It punishes your lack of focus by killing the trees in your forest.
After a while — you get a forest full of beautiful trees. And a few dead ones if you touch your phone when the app is on. This is what my forest for 2020 looks like so far.
You tell the app how long you want to focus for and what tree you’d like to plant. Then in the time that you’re focusing your tree grows from a small sapling into a beautiful tree. If you touch your phone at any point, your tree dies and a dead tree can be seen.
It’s a great way to pre-commit to focusing on whatever you want to focus on and not be distracted by your phone.
I immediately found the benefit of Forest by switching it on first thing in the morning. I used to spend about 30 mins of bouncing between FB, IG and Gmail. Time would just evaporate. But then I used Forest. It kept me off my phone and focused on my life and won that time back.
Forest is like training wheels for your focus. After about 6 weeks of using it I find I don’t really need to use it as much. Because I’ve scheduled my time and have several pre-commitments in place I don’t have that much time to mindlessly surf on my phone. But when I feel I’m being pulled back into my phone and not focusing i know I can flick the app on, and boom. Focusing again. I’m super glad the author shared this recommendation.
If this sounds too gimmicky to you, just turn your phone off and put it in a hard to reach location when you need to focus and be in the zone.
Life before and after reading the book
I’m writing. Painting. Spending more time in nature. Reading. Studying. Being who I want to be.
Life is more full and joyful for me. The things I’ve been wanting to do for years — I’m actually doing them now. I’m in the drivers seat and it is bloody exciting. I’m not a spectator watching life pass by in social media. I’m engaged with my life and making progress on what’s meaningful to me.
My relationship with technology has drastically improved for the better. My phone’s on airplane mode 90% of the time and I like to switch on Forest at points where I know I’m vulnerable to wasting my time scrolling on social media.
What I’m very grateful for is that this attitude has spread into my homelife. When we’re at home Brea asks me to hide her phone so she can focus on painting, drawing, writing and reading. Our old defaults used to be passive consumption of Netflix, YouTube and Instagram. Our new defaults are creating, making things, deeply engaging with the world around us.
Surfing the exponential wave
What strikes me as a little crazy is I read the book a month ago. Four weeks later, my life is very much the same, but it’s very much different as well. I’ve begun to accrue little wins, like Sonic running through gold coins. These little wins aren’t much right now but they’re going to compound. I’m only on the flat line of an exponential growth curve, but despite that I’m already feeling the surging power and potential of the wave I’m surfing.
What I’m experiencing for myself is what you can experience as well. I wish this for you just as I always wished it for myself. The author of the book wishes it for you too. Get the book, read it, implement it and watch your life change for the better 🚀💪