Book Recommendations To Help You Make Time, Be Still & Indistractable

“How different would the world look if people spent as much time listening to their conscience as they did to chattering broadcasts? If they could respond to the calls of their convictions as quickly as we answer the dings and rings of technology in our pockets?”
Ryan Holiday, Stillness is the Key

Is completely quitting Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube or cable TV the right way to claim back the time that these new platforms stole out of your days?

Smart phones and applications on these phones are great technologies that help us live and connect with our world in unprecedented ways.

These three authors provide a balanced approach to handle the chaos of social media, notification distraction hell and the consumption of infinite content world that we live in.

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How can you be the digital monk living in the valley of addictive applications and platforms?

There are two parallel universes I am a part of — one, a high octane world of digital producers and consumers and two, a calm community of silicon valley sadhus who meet every week to meditate. These three books bring these two universes together.

Tech companies are constantly churning out products that hook you into using them multiple times a day. These products are designed like the slot machines of Las Vegas casinos, or the drug that gives you instant gratification and the adrenaline rush. Mea Culpa — I was responsible to create some of these products as a product owner trying to maximize growth and engagement.

These technology companies are now realizing the kind of monsters that they created with these applications and devices. Apple, Google and Facebook are now providing tools like Screen Time on iOS, Digital Well Being on Android and Activity Dashboards on Facebook.

There are some very specific tactics that you can use to make time, to be still and to focus your attention on the most important parts of your lives.

Stillness Is the Key

“All of humanity’s problems,” Blaise Pascal said in 1654, “stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday is a great author who is influenced by Stoicism and Buddhism. In this book, he talks about how slowing down and emptying your mind is crucial for your well being.

This book covers the three parts of your existence, your mind, your body and your spirit. He goes through some very practical tactics that will help you live your life day to day with all the digital noises around you.

Here is a great preview of this book in Ryan’s own words as discussed with Kevin Rose.

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

“We can cope with uncomfortable internal triggers by reflecting on, rather than reacting to, our discomfort. We can reimagine the task we’re trying to accomplish by looking for the fun in it and focusing on it more intensely. Finally, and most important, we can change the way we see ourselves to get rid of self-limiting beliefs.”
Nir Eyal

When I was working with one of the tech giants, we invited Nir Eyal to one of our product quarterly meetings. Nir taught us his framework called Hooked that allowed product teams like us to create addictive, habit forming products using the loops of triggers (external and internal), actions, rewards and investments.

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In this book, Nir is covering the other side of the coin. He is teaching how to hack these same external and internal triggers and make your life indistractable.

Again, Kevin Rose does a good job of asking some great probing questions to summarize the gist of this book with this podcast.

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day

“Every time you check your email or another message service, you’re basically saying, “Does any random person need my time right now?”
Jake Knapp

This book provides the most number of tactics (80 to be precise) to make time by saving time that you are wasting on your devices.

It is written by Jake Knapp who is a time management guru, creator of products like Gmail, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Encarta.

One example of a tactic that Jake suggests is to remove any application from your phone that has “infinite scrolling”, and that includes social applications, email clients and your browser using tools like Screen Time from iOS.

Here is Jake’s great interview by Kevin Rose on Apple Podcasts.

In my future posts, I will cover detailed reviews for each one of these books. Stay tuned.

Written by

Engineer, Product Builder, Investor

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