Learn how to take back control of your attention span.
Walking back to your desk from a meeting, you quickly send a text to a friend, and as the “typing” bubble appears, an alert from Venmo comes through. Ah, your brother has paid you back. You open the app to see that you still owe a coworker for drinks last week, when … Ping!, the fire emoji appears from a friend reacting to your Instagram story. You shoot back a smiley face, then check email to read about the new team structure. Whoosh!, that reply text from your friend comes in. You look up, you’re back at your desk, and 10 minutes have gone by. You blame your smartphone and dive back into email.
Distraction is nothing new, though our dependence on smartphones and social media make more tempting than ever to toggle between tasks. In his new book, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, former Stanford GSB lecturer and member of the MBA Class of 2008 Nir Eyal argues that we can “hack back” our attention spans by slashing the idea that we’re addicted — and helpless — when it comes to technology.
“Unless we deal with the root causes of our distraction, we’ll continue to find ways to distract ourselves,” Eyal writes. “Distraction isn’t about the distraction itself, it’s about how we respond to it.”
Here, Eyal describes his journey in becoming “indistractable” and suggests some techniques for staying focused at the office and at home.