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How to Be Productive Working from Home (and anywhere else)

Based on the Indistractable Framework

Dan Brodovich
Mar 16 · 6 min read

As coronavirus continues to spread, many of us are forced to work remotely to help reducing contagion. At first, working from home sounds like the dream: pajamas all day, working from the couch, slacking off… But it can quickly get unproductive if you are not indistractable enough.

What is indistractable? — it is a framework introduced by Nir Eyal in his newest “Indistractable” book that helps to become the kind of person who’s striving to do what they say they’re going to do despite external and internal distractions.

Dan Brodovich & Nir Eyal in San Francisco
  1. Your ability to focus becomes the most important skill of the century
  2. Creative and high productive work only comes from focused work
  3. Where the focus goes the energy to achieve all your dreams flow

In other words, you’ll have the power to do the right things and ignore the wrong once you are on your journey towards the life you really want by becoming indistractable using 4 simple steps.

  1. Master Internal Triggers — move from reacting to things to proactively controlling your attention
  2. Make time for traction — set up actions that move you towards what you really want
  3. Hack Back External Triggers — stop serving notifications, messages, newsfeeds and make them serve you
  4. Perfect Distractions with Pacts — stick with decisions you’ve made in advance with precommitments

To make the process of transformation easier we’ve created a detailed infographic based on a conversation with Nir and his book that allows keeping in mind the most important action items to successfully complete these 4 steps.

If you are more into text version than into infographic, we’ve made these crucial notes in the written form as well:

  1. How to Master Internal Triggers

1.1 Understand what motivates you

  • Accept that we are all motivated to escape pain/discomfort.
  • Remember that anything that stops discomfort is potentially addictive, but not irresistible
  • Understand your internal root cause of distraction rather than proximate ones

1.2 Reimagine the internal trigger

  • Look for the emotional discomfort that precedes the distraction
  • Acknowledge the trigger by writing it down (if it is noticed it can be managed)
  • Explore your distracting sensations with curiosity instead of contempt

1.3 Reimagine the task

  • Reduce the influence of internal triggers by “playing” and enjoying dreary tasks we are working on
  • Make your task interesting by including some variability, discovery and challenge (even the most boring task can be enriched by making a “game” out of it)
  • Look for novelty in anything you do and pay hyper attention to details

1.4 Reimagine your Temperament

  • Accept and keep in mind that your willpower is an infinite resource
  • Control your negative judgments about yourself
  • Talk to yourself in a supportive compassionate manner, just like you would talk to your best friend

2. How to Make Time For Traction

2.1 Turn your values into time

  • Start planning ahead your days (you can’t tell if something is a distraction unless you know what it distracts you from)
  • Put into your calendar activities that reflect your values and the person you want to be
  • Timebox your day for you, relationship and work-related activities
  • Refine your schedule regularly, but commit to it once it is set

2.2 Control the inputs, not the outcomes

  • Schedule time for yourself first so you can be in the best shape for other commitments
  • Show up when you say you will even if you don’t feel like it
  • Focus on your time allocation, not the end results

2.3 Schedule Important Relationships

  • Allocate regular time on your calendar for people who you love
  • Put domestic chores on your calendar to make sure you contribute enough
  • Maintain important relationships by scheduling regular get-togethers

2.4 Sync with stakeholders at Work

  • Make time for alignment with stakeholders at work to inform about your tasks and schedule to avoid work-related distractions
  • Sync as frequently as your schedule changes or on a weekly basis

3. How to Hack Back External Triggers

3.1 Hack back email

  • Reduce the time you spend on emails by sending fewer messages and spending less time responding
  • Label emails according to when you need a response and reply only during the scheduled time on your calendar
  • Spend less time responding to emails by having office hours, delay sent time and set up filters

3.2 Hack back group chat

  • Treat chat like a sauna — it is unhealthy to stay too long
  • Schedule time in your day to catch up on group chats
  • Invite to your chat group only necessary people
  • Don’t use chats for important and emotional topics

3.3 Hack back meetings

  • Make sure that the organizer has an agenda and briefing document
  • Use very small groups for problem-solving and meetings for consensus building
  • Be fully present to keep the meeting at a high-quality
  • Leave any other, but presenting laptop outside (use only conferencing app)

3.4 Hack back your smartphone

  • Delete the apps you no longer need
  • Keep distracting apps only on devices you would want to use them on
  • Remove apps that might distract you from your home screen
  • Manage notification settings for each app

3.5 Hack back your desktop

  • Clear your desktop from clutter
  • Turn off all desktop notifications

3.6 Hack back online articles

  • Don’t read articles on your web browser
  • Save interesting content for later to read on mobile devices
  • Listen to articles and podcasts when you work out or commute

3.7 Hack back feeds

  • Newsfeeds are designed to keep you distracted
  • Use software and settings to disable news feeds on social media

4. How to Prevent Distractions with Pacts

4.1 Prevent distraction with pacts

  • Work next to a colleague, friend or strangers in co-working spaces to increase social pressure to stay on track
  • Use tech to stay off tech with apps like SelfControl, Forest, Focusmate

4.2 Prevent distraction with price pacts

  • Overcome your fear of price pact by understanding that this is really what you want to do anyway
  • Make sure the chosen task is a short term goal or achievement
  • Get some skin in the game with real money that you have to burn or give away if you don’t achieve the goal by a set date
  • Turn off all the external triggers and turn your attention towards achieving the goal

4.3 Prevent distractions with identity pacts

  • Create a new self-image that correlates with your intention of becoming indistractable
  • Call yourself “indistractable” to identify yourself with one and therefore behave like one
  • Adapt rituals like scheduling to reinforce your internal identity and influence your future actions
  • Share your commitment with others so that you can get external confirmation of your new identity

If you decide to step on the journey of becoming indestructible, make sure you follow all the steps in the sequence they are described above.

Of course, a single infographic may not be enough to change your habits, so if you still haven’t read “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” book you would find many insights, techniques and reasons why this methodology really works.

Thank you for taking the time to go through this article and infographic.We truly hope it is going to help you to have a more vigorous life.
Please spread the word so we could all help the economy by being more productive in this challenging time!

Silicon Valley Insiders

Sharing Silicon Valley Insights on how to build innovative…

Dan Brodovich

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I am a Sr. Product Manager at Pandora on a mission to create the best tech product that is improving the lives of millions!

Silicon Valley Insiders

Sharing Silicon Valley Insights on how to build innovative products, successful startups and the most valuable companies in the world

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