HomeFeatured StoriesNir Eyal - The Great Distraction By Mary Henderson

    Nir Eyal – The Great Distraction By Mary Henderson

    Mary: Nir Eyal is the bestselling author of Hooked: How to Build Habit- forming Products, and Indistractible: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. He has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. His writing on technology, psychology, and business appears in the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today. Nir is also an active investor in habit-forming technologies. Some of his past investments include Eventbrite,, Kahoot,, Happy Bits, PresenceLearning, 7 Cups of Tea, and Engagement Partners. Oh my God, Nir, that is a lot. Welcome to Authoritti5.0

    Nir: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here, Mary. Thank you for having me.

    Mary: I am super excited to interview you today because this issue is called “The Great Distraction,” and distraction is something that I have spent many years trying to overcome myself, I think more on the emotional level than anything else. And honestly, I’ve got so many questions I want to ask you in this short time that we have. So to set the scene, let me ask you just for the sake of our audience, based on your research, how do you define distraction?

    Nir: That’s a great place to start, by the way. You and I are members of a very illustrious club of people who are distractable. I would say most people today are distracted and have struggled with distraction for a very long time. You know, we like to think it’s our cell phones or the internet causing distraction. But you know, distraction has been with us for at least the past 2,500 years, because that’s when the Greek philosopher Plato talked about this very same problem. He called it akrasia, the tendency to do things against our better interests. So this is not a new problem. This is not something that technology suddenly foisted upon us.

    Humans have always struggled with distraction. And I think it’s such an important skill to learn how to overcome distraction.

    Because look, there is no area of your life that is not dependent upon your ability to control your attention. Whether it’s your physical health, your mental health, your relationships, your business – everything requires you to be able to concentrate your attention. This is truly how we choose our life. And so it’s really a macro skill. You want to read more books. You want to exercise more. You want to spend more time with your family and feel connected to others. You have to be able to control your attention. The world is really bifurcating. There are people who allow their time and attention to be manipulated by others, and people who stand up and say, “No. I will decide how I control my time and attention because I am indistractable.” So what is distraction? Let’s start with that. It’s a great question, because I think it’s something we kind of gloss over.

    We tend to think we know what that word means, but it’s good to stop for a second and ask ourselves, “Do I really understand what a distraction is?” The best way to understand what distraction is, is to ask ourselves whether we know what distraction is not, what the opposite of distraction is. Most people will tell you the opposite of distraction is focused, but that’s not exactly right. If you look at the origin of the word, the opposite of distraction is traction. Traction and distraction are opposites; they both come from the same Latin root trahere, which means to pull. And you’ll notice that both words, traction and distraction, end in the same six letters, ACTION. This reminds us that distraction is not something that happens to us, but rather it is an action that we take.

    So by definition, traction is any action that pulls you towards what you said you were going to do. You were going to do things with intent, things that move you closer to your values and help you become the kind of person you want to be. Those are acts of traction. The opposite of traction, distraction, is any action that pulls you further away from your goals, further away from your values, further away from becoming a kind of person you want to become. So I tell you this, Mary, because it’s very important. This isn’t just semantics. It’s very important to understand that any action can be traction or distraction. Let me give you an example. For years I would sit down at my desk and say, “Okay. I’ve got that big project. I think that’s at the top of my to-do list.

    “No more procrastinating, no more delay. I’m going to do that big project. Here I go. I’m going to get started right now.

    Nothing’s going to end up getting in my way. I’m not going to get distracted, but first let me check some email, right? Let me do those two or three easy tasks on my to-do list. Let me do those first real quick, just to get some momentum. It’s still work-related stuff, right?”

    Am I being productive if I’m checking email and I’m doing stuff on my to-do list? Well, no, it’s still a distraction because it’s not what I planned to do with my time.

    Even if you’re doing something else that’s work-related, it’s still a distraction. And I would argue that’s the most dangerous form of distraction, because you don’t even realize that you’re distracted because distraction has this terrible way of leading us to do the urgent and the easy work, as opposed to the hard and important work we have to do to move our lives and careers forward.

    Conversely, anything could be traction as long as you plan for it. If it’s something you do with intent, as Dorothy Parker said, “The time you plan to waste is not wasted time,” then it’s not a distraction. So if you want to go on social media, you want to play video games, you want to take a walk – whatever it is you want to do with your time and attention is fine. There’s nothing morally inferior about how you spend your time, as long as you do it with intent. As long as you say to yourself, “I’m going to do this according to my values and my schedule, not someone else’s.”

    Mary: I love that because that brings a whole new layer over the top of distraction, and you’re right. And I’m guilty of this. You know, when I have a project I’m focused. This is what I want to do today. I want to get this out of the way. And then suddenly, I’ve got all these other important things that aren’t really important and I find myself at three o’clock not having done anything. So in your book, you quote the famous ancient Greek philosopher. Now I love great philosophy. I have a Greek heritage, so naturally I was drawn to this quote: “By pleasure, we mean the absence of pain in the body and trouble in the soul.” I can’t tell you how much I love that quote. Then you add to that by saying the drive to relieve discomfort is the root cause of all behavior while everything else is a proximate cause. Pointing the finger outside of you only brings more of what you don’t want, which then becomes the actual distraction. Am I understanding that correctly?

    Nir: Absolutely. So, now that we understand traction and distraction, we have to ask ourselves what prompts us to take these actions. We have two kinds of triggers, and the first kind is the one that most people blame on distraction;

    it’s called the external trigger. These are the pings, the dings, the rings, anything in your outside environment that can lead you off track. But here’s the thing. We know time studies find that it’s only 10% of the time that you get distracted. It’s because of some pinging or ringing in our outside environment. So of course the question is, what’s the other 90%, right? What’s the root cause of all this other distraction? And here we have what we call internal triggers, which are uncomfortable.

    Emotional states that we seek to escape from include boredom, loneliness, fatigue, uncertainty, stress, and anxiety, which account for 90% of our distractions. Ninety percent of the time you pick up your phone, you’re not picking it up because of a ding; you’re picking it up because of a feeling that brings you to where you start on your journey to becoming indistractable. You have to start with mastering these internal triggers, or they will become your masters. One of the fundamental revelations of my book over the past five years of research into the psychology literature is that the vast majority of distraction begins from within, because time management is pain management. Let me say that again. Time management is pain management. If you don’t understand what that discomfort that you are trying to escape from is, you will always get distracted by something, whether it’s too much food, too much news, too much booze, too much football, too much Facebook. t doesn’t matter. You’re going to find a distraction unless you understand what that emotional trigger is. That uncomfortable emotional state is driving you to look to escape that discomfort oftentimes in a distracting, unhealthy manner. So that’s where we have to start mastering the internal triggers. And let me tell you, I’ve read all the literature. I’ve read all the books about focus, procrastination, distraction, and productivity. None of it will work if you don’t first start by mastering your internal triggers. The good news is you don’t have to see a psychotherapist to help you with this. Anybody can adopt just a few quick techniques that helps them master these internal triggers so they don’t become your master.

    Mary: And that brings us to two things I want to raise about those internal emotional triggers, because I think that emotional triggers are something that a lot of people bypass. If you look in the corporate landscape, you know they call experts in to train the executive team on emotional intelligence. So they treat it like a thing that you have to learn. But how can you teach somebody who has emotional triggers suppressed at such a deep core level? That person can’t learn emotional intelligence if their emotional state is actually keeping them distracted because they’re not willing to go there. So things in their life are playing out disguised differently. They could be a terrible boss, a mean friend, husband, son, daughter, whatever. So that brings one layer of confusion.

    And I think something that we’re not really tapping into is the real meaning of emotional triggers. On the other hand, as I discussed with you last time, the emotional trigger or the destruction for me in terms of having a physical ailment on my body was keeping me distracted. It was this pain in my wrist. And I was distracted 24/7 until I decided to ask a different question: Could there be an emotional trigger that I’m not willing to confront? And maybe if I go there that will open up a different of discussion or an understanding or a discovery about myself. So I explored that. What happened is that the distraction on the actual wrist was no longer my distraction, but then you could say, what then is the emotional trigger? That opened up a much bigger dialogue in me, gave me a much bigger inner discovery about some unresolved issues, and I found a level of peace and fulfillment in that. Now, is that what you’re saying? When you’re talking about emotional triggers that we’ve got to go deep in and really understand how to resolve those very things that are keeping us distracted?

    Nir: Absolutely. And I appreciate you sharing your personal journey. I appreciate you being vulnerable because we are discovering these groundbreaking insights in terms of what pain is. We used to think that if you feel any kind of physical pain, it’s always associated with some kind of damage in the body, and we’re learning that that’s not necessarily true. There are many forms of damage that you can’t perceive. For example, you can’t feel early-stage cancer, even though that’s very damaging to the body. And there are cases of people in battle chopping off their arm and they don’t feel a thing, right? So pain does not necessarily always correlate with damage.

    But oftentimes in modern society, we have been told that feeling bad is bad and that’s not true. Feeling bad is not necessarily bad; feeling bad is a signal. It’s telling you some piece of information, and it’s up to your brain to process that information in an adaptive, helpful manner. But what oftentimes happens in our society, particularly due to the self-help industry, is that we are sold this bag of goods that says that we’re never supposed to feel bad. We’re always supposed to be happy. We’re always supposed to be contented, and we should escape discomfort at every turn because that pain is somehow bad.

    So you know I used to suffer from back pain. And the old way of doing things was don’t move too much. You feel pain, so don’t move. You don’t want to stress that out. But the more I dug into the literature around pain management, the more I realized that actually, you mostly want to do the opposite. Of course, if you break your arm, yes, you want to immobilize it. But that’s a short-term thing, right? You do that for a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, but after that, it heals.

    You want to move that muscle; you need to retrain the body to ignore the pain symptoms that you’re feeling. That’s how we retrain the brain to ignore those uncomfortable sensations. And interestingly enough, the same is true when it comes to our psychological pain as well.

    When we teach ourselves that there’s nothing wrong with feeling stress, there’s nothing wrong with feeling anxious, bored, fatigued, whatever the case might be, that means we’re on the right path to learning a skill that others don’t have, to doing work that others don’t want to do. That’s a great thing. So it’s really about reimagining those internal triggers, so that we can lean into that discomfort to use it as rocket fuel to propel us forward, rather than what most people do, which is to try and escape it. They escape it with a pill, with a drink, with a scroll to try and take their minds off of the discomfort. And sometimes that actually makes the pain either psychologically or physiologically worse, because you’re not teaching your brain to deal with that signal and to ignore it. Every second of your life, billions of bits of information enter your brain, but your brain constantly has to filter out and just narrow in on what it’s focused on. If you’re speaking with somebody, you’re ignoring the temperature of the room or the sounds outside. There are a million things that your brain is filtering out.

    Mary: I love boredom. I completely and utterly embrace it because I just thrive in it. When I’m bored, I’ll pick up a book, I’ll read, I’ll do something. I think I’ve got my whiteboard, but I do it to my children as an experiment. You know, I removed all of their gaming. Their computers, X- Boxes, everything. And so they couldn’t actually access that as a way of doing something. I wanted to see what they look like when they’re being themselves. And what happened was my eldest son was getting really anxious for a few days and asked me “Why did you take that away?” And I told him there are plenty of other things to do. And then what happened – both of my children play piano – and my eldest son pulled out his keyboard, plugged it into his MAC and started to making music.

    So when you allow the child or the adult to actually step into that place of the unknown, because boredom is “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” suddenly magic really does happen. And we have not been taught even in the school system that boredom is awesome. It’s all about you got to do, do, do constantly. For me, this idea of boredom almost unlocks that notion of distraction. It’s like you don’t go to a place of distraction. You go to a place of creativity.

    Nir: Right? You know, one of the things I talk about in the book is the difference between high- performers and low-performers.

    One of the signals that we see is that high-performers will make time in their day for what’s called reflective work, whereas low- performers do nothing but reactive work, like reacting to notifications, to emails, to meetings, to people’s requests all day long. This is how most people spend their time. And the funny thing is they complain about it. They say, “Oh, I’m so distracted. I can’t find time to focus,” but really deep down inside they love it. Why?

    Because it prevents them from having to feel bored for even a second. It’s only when we can sit down and reflect, when we can work without distraction that we can be creative.

    Can we strategize? Can we plan? The only way we can do that is to do is plan that time in our day and hold it sacred to do that reflective work. Now, I’m not saying all day long needs to be spent doing reflective work. Your day involves some amount of reactive work. I get that. But the problem is that the vast majority of people out there, the low-performers, don’t make time in their day to reflect. So what happens, they’re running real fast in the wrong direction because they never take time to sit there for a second with their thoughts. People hate reflecting on what’s going on and wondering if their business going in the right direction. Is their family life going in the right direction?

    Mary: I agree. So I want to shift the gear a little bit and go to entrepreneurship. As you know, in our current digital landscape, everyone’s an entrepreneur, the buzz word for the moment and probably for the last 10 or 15 years. We are in an information world that is full of every conceivable answer you can possibly imagine. And I think this becomes dangerous when the obsession to consume content never materializes into a measurable ROI. And yet we can see that there is no shortage of free master classes or webinars, from how to become a concert pianist in 30 days to how to make a million dollars without any skills. So the glut of micro content, I believe, has become the world’s greatest distraction. And I see this with my own business, Nir, because many people consume a lot of my free content for months, if not years, before they realize I can’t solve this problem myself. So the question is, why are people not placing a currency on their time? Why instead are they genuinely obsessed with distractions? Maybe this comes back to what you were saying before about the high-performers and the low-performers who love distractions. So what’s going on there?

    Nir: Yeah. I love that you used the word currency because it’s no coincidence that the way we talk about time is the same way we talk about money. We make money just like we make time. We spend money just like we spend time. We pay attention just like we pay with dollars and cents. What’s interesting, though, is that people are so stingy with their money, right? We split checks. When we go out to lunch with a friend, we clip coupons. We debate whether we should buy a 99 cent app in the app store. But when it comes to our time, the one thing you can’t make more of, we should act differently. We can always make more money, but we cannot make more time. I don’t care if you’re Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, you can’t make more time either. So it should be the opposite.

    We should be stingy with our time and generous with our money. But these self-help junkies that jumped from one program to the next without actually implementing any of this stuff? It’s another distraction. Self-help can absolutely be a distraction. I’ve met these people who consume, consume, consume and never create. And then they wonder why. Well it’s because they’re using content as a distraction, as an escape from having to deal with stuff, right? So the solution to this, the important thing you have to do here, starts with step one that we talked about: mastering the internal triggers. But that’s only step one of four.

    Step two is to make time for traction, which involves turning your values into time. What are values? Values are defined as attributes of the person you want to become. Values are different, by the way, from things a value. Values cannot be taken away from you, but money can be. So if it can be taken away from you, it’s not a value. If you are to actually walk the walk, as opposed to saying, “I value this. I value that,” what you value has to have a place in your calendar. That’s the solution. So yes, maybe staying informed is important you value. Money is not a value. Financial wealth is not to you.

    Mary: That’s great. That’s one of your values. Where is that time on your calendar? How much time would the person you want to become spend on self development, on learning? And it’s a wonderful thing, but if you don’t plan the time in your calendar what’s going to happen is every time you feel bored, stressed, or anxious, you’re going to turn to that or any number of other distractions. But if you plan that time, if you say to yourself, “Hey, I’m going to spend one hour a day on reading or self- development” or whatever the case might be, wonderful. But now what it’s forced you to do is to work under constraints, right?

    Nir: Constraints. They don’t feel good, but they make us better. We don’t like having constraints, but it turns out when we put those constraints on ourselves, we actually do much better. We rise to the challenge. It’s almost like if I were to ask you to tell me all the words you can think of that start with the letter T, you might say one or two words. But if I ask you to tell me all the names for animals that start with T, that constraint makes it easier: turtles, tigers. You can think of many more things that start with a letter T when there’s a constraint. And that goes for our calendars, which is why to-do lists and specifically running your life on a to-do list is so terrible because with to-do lists, you can add more and more and more.

    It’s endless. There’s no constraint. Whereas when you use what’s called a timebox calendar, which is a technique I teach in the book, you have a constraint that forces you to make trade-offs. So you have to ask yourself, “Okay. If I spend X number of hours doing one thing, is that going to leave time for my other values?” And so I’m forcing you to make trade-offs based on those constraints, as opposed to this terrible to-do list technique, which people never seem to finish. And then they start to think that somehow they’re broken, day after day, week after week, year after year because they didn’t finish everything on their to-do list.

    And there’s nothing wrong with them. But there is something wrong with this stupid technique we keep using when it doesn’t work.

    And so keeping a timebox calendar is much more effective, but there’s one more thing I want to say here, which is we need to stop measuring our productivity and our self-worth in many cases, based on how many little boxes we check off. That’s one of the reasons that these to-do list methods are so bad, by the way. I’m not saying don’t keep a to-do list, or don’t write things down.

    I’m saying don’t run your life by a to-do list. And if you’re not using a schedule for when you’re going to do those things, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. So what happens with these to-do lists? When we measure ourselves based on how many little boxes we checked off, we have this reinforcer every day that shows we didn’t finish everything. And then we start hearing people saying these ridiculous things like they’re no good at time management, or they have a short attention span.

    And then it becomes true because that’s what they believe. But I don’t want you to measure your productivity based on not finishing anything, okay? The metric is not about finishing; the metric is, “Did you work on what you said you were going to do for as long as you said you would, without distraction?” ’Cause here’s the kicker. The people who simply measure themselves by whether they were able to do what they themselves said they were going to do without distraction end up finishing more. They actually finish more than the people who are devoted to checking little boxes on their to-do list. Because the people who keep the to-do list don’t prioritize properly. They don’t make trade-offs properly. They don’t stick to the task at hand; they get distracted every five minutes because there’s no constraint telling them to stay focused.

    Mary: I love how you’ve challenged the status quo because most people who start their career in corporate are all taught this ideology around time management and to-do lists.

    Those two connections go hand-in-hand for a lot of executives. And no wonder why they’re getting distracted on LinkedIn in the morning, then email in this project, then many other things. So, let me ask you this: Where does discomfort then actually come from? I mean, are we so separate from our true self that we actually hate being all alone with ourselves? Is it that we’ve never been told that discomfort is okay, but this is how you deal with it? Where does the trigger of discomfort start? What has to happen to a human being to start to become constantly distracted?

    Nir: The answer is that all human motivation is about the desire to escape discomfort. We used to think that motivation was about pleasure and pain. Jeremy Bentham said this; Sigmund

    Freud said this. If you ask most people “What’s the seat of human motivation?” they’ll tell you some version of carrots and sticks. Not true. Human motivation is not about the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of discomfort. In fact, it’s about the desire to escape discomfort. Everything you do you do is for one reason, the desire to escape discomfort. And it’s perfectly normal. It’s perfectly natural. In fact, we’ve done studies on snails that have only two neurons. The most simple brain we can find is in these freshwater snails, and they only have two neurons.

    One neuron is to detect the presence of food, and the other is to cause the discomfort to get them to go get the food. So we are hardwired to constantly feel discomfort, because that is what motivates us. But you ask “What do we have pleasure for?” Pleasure is there to create a memory that we seek to pursue next time the brain doesn’t want what feels good. It wants what felt good. And so even when we desire something pleasurable, that’s a source of wanting, craving, lusting. All of these things are psychologically destabilizing. So that’s why I say feeling bad is not bad. It’s that discomfort, that perpetual disquietude that makes us better. That’s what propels us forward in life – wanting more, wanting better. So there’s nothing wrong with that discomfort. We shouldn’t try to escape it in any way, shape, or form. We should learn to harness it, to serve us as opposed to us serving it

    Mary: About the internal trigger, the task, and the temperament when it comes to dealing with distractions: Can you walk us through that process? You know, just at a high level and why it is important?

    Nir: Sure. So this is back to strategy. Number one is about mastering those internal triggers. We talked about that a little bit. Number two is making time for traction. We talked about how important it is to actually know what you want to do with your time. Number three is hacking back the external trigger. So there are all kinds of practical things we can do to remove those external triggers like our phone, our computer, but also our kids, right?

    Coworkers meetings, all these things can also be sources of distraction. And it turns out we can do something about every one of those external triggers. And then finally, the fourth step is to prevent distraction with pacts, which is where we use what’s called a pre-commitment device to make sure that as the last line of defense, we don’t get distracted.

    I just want to make sure people understand there’s a four-part model here, but we’re going deep on number one. So when it comes to mastering those internal triggers, there are three big things we can do there, which is to see that trigger differently. We’ve been talking a little bit about that, so that we don’t think about that discomfort as necessarily a bad thing. We think about it as rocket fuel. If you look at high- performers, if you look at amazing athletes, actors, comedians, you will always find there’s some kind of itch. They’re looking to scratch something to prove something that drives them forward. That’s uncomfortable, right? And sometimes that leads them to escape it with addictions and all kinds of bad things.

    And sometimes it actually propels them to work harder to prove something to the world. So harnessing that discomfort can be actually very adaptive if we do it in the right way. So that’s all about reimagining those triggers, not thinking that pain is always a bad thing or that discomfort should be always escaped. Sometimes it should be harnessed.

    Then the next part is about reimagining the task, thinking about it differently, and this is where I teach you how to do what’s called play. It turns out that play can be a very practical tool to help us get through a difficult task. And the kicker here is we don’t have to actually enjoy it, that psychologists believe that play doesn’t necessarily have to be fun.

    It turns out that play can just be a tool to help us get through a difficult task long enough to sustain our attention. So I show you how to do that. And then finally, perhaps most important, is reimagining your temperament. We know that many or most of us carry around these self-limiting beliefs. “I’m no good at time management.” “I’m not a morning person.” “Heck, I’m a Sagittarius.” Whatever the case. The most popular idea these days is that technology is addicting us, that it’s hijacking our brain, and there’s nothing we can do. And it turns out that these are myths, and if we are thoughtful about our temperament and specifically what we allow our self image to be and how we want to see ourselves, that has a very profound impact on our behavior so we can choose. We can choose our temperament.

    Mary: That’s amazing. We’ve touched on entrepreneurship, but I also think we need to touch on relationships because I’m not just talking about your partner. I’m talking about relationships with coworkers, your circle of influence, your children. How do we get indistractable with relationships that are energy- and time-consuming that ultimately actually distract us from moving towards our goals?

    Nir: So there’s a whole section in the book on how to build indistractable relationships. There’s also a section on how to build an indistractable workplace, which is super important, right? What I discovered in my research is that distraction in the workplace is nothing but a symptom of a larger dysfunction. So I teach you exactly how we build an indistractable workplace. I profile several companies that used to have a very bad distracted workplace culture.

    And now they’ve overcome that problem. I also teach you about how to raise indistractable kids. I mean, if you think distractions are bad now, just wait a few years; it’s going to only become more distracting, right? There are going to be more new technologies between virtual reality and augmented reality.

    And who knows what other realities; you know, this is this critical skill of the century. We have to teach our kids how to control their time and attention. So I teach you how to do that as well in the book. But when it comes to our relationships, we spread what’s called social antibodies, teaching each other new norms, new manners, when there’s some type of new technology or new behavior that has destructive consequences. So the good news is we’ve been here before, with a much more insidious form of distraction – smoking – that I remember when I was a kid. I grew up in the eighties, and we used to have ashtrays in our living room.

    Everybody did. I’m guessing if you were born after the 1980s, this sounds crazy. If someone came over, they didn’t even ask if they could smoke. They just assumed that they could smoke in your living room. Everybody did this. So what happened? Was there a law passed that said you can’t smoke in someone’s private residence? No. What happened was people like my mom, who was a non- smoker, one day threw away the ashtrays. My mom said, “I am a non-smoker. If you’d like to smoke, you’ll kindly go outside.” And at first, oh my goodness.

    People were very shocked. I remember one of her friends came over, and she was very offended. She was asked to go smoke outside, but today, not doing so would be ridiculously rude.

    So this is how we change society. This is how we change the world. Just like my mom had a moniker calling herself a non-smoker, we can adopt this moniker of being indistractable. Sounds like it’s meant to be a superpower, right? So when we describe ourselves as someone who schedules their time, who turns off their notification settings, who makes sure they have these techniques ready so they’re not constantly at the whim of everyone’s needs, it might sound a little strange. But is it that much more unusual than someone who eats a vegan diet or someone who wears religious garb? Yeah, it’s a little bit different, but it’s something we have to do for the sake of ourselves and for society to become indistractable to declare it to ourselves as well as others.

    Mary: So in the end, is it critical for us to be very clear on our goals in every area of our life, so that we can be conscious of what will and won’t add value to us?

    Nir: Well, I would tweak it a little bit. I would say, be very clear about your time. That goals are a little bit tricky, right? That it’s very hard for people to imagine what their long- term goals are. Where do I want to be on my deathbed? What do I want? That’s heavy. What’s not heavy, what everyone can do right now is to ask yourself, “What would I want to do with my time tomorrow? How would the person I want to become spend their time tomorrow? How much time would they devote to themselves for self- care, for prayer, meditation, reading, video games.” It doesn’t matter as long as whatever it is aligns with your values. How would you spend your time with your relationships? Do you give the people you love in your life the little scraps of time that’s left over, or do you devote time to them because they’re important to you? And then finally your work: What’s the right balance between reflective work and reactive work in your day-to- day work life?

    Mary: That’s amazing. And also, I might mention right now that you do have a workbook to support your book Indistractable, which is free, and you can download it on your website and it’s added like 89 pages or something. It’s a really amazing workbook. I loved it.

    Nir: Yeah, we couldn’t fit into the final edition of the book, so we made it for free. There are no strings attached. You can get that at, and yeah, it’s a great place to start your journey.

    Mary: Amazing. So, Nir, we’ve come to the end of this amazing interview, and of course, I could speak with you for another hour and ask you a million other questions, but just to bring the human side of Nir into this, which I ask every single person, if you could meet one person who is no longer living, who would it be and what would you ask or what would you want to know?

    Nir: This is a really good question. And it’s a tough one. I think the first person I would think of is my grandfather on my paternal side, who was a Holocaust survivor. And he lost his wife and two children in the camps. And he ended up marrying the only surviving Jew in his village, who became my grandmother. They had one child, my father, and when I was three years old, my family immigrated to the United States. And that was the year that my grandfather passed away. I think it was just too much for him to lose his only son after going through so much. So I never really got to meet him. I would have loved to get to know him.

    Mary: I just got goosebumps, when you just said that, really overwhelming goosebumps. Amazing. You are just an amazing person yourself. Can I just say I enjoyed your book? You give so much. I just pray to God that your movement spreads widely right now in our world. This is exactly what we’re looking for. We need people like you and your messaging, which is very clear and adds value to every human being, regardless of age, race, color, et cetera.

    So I want to say thank you so much for anyone who wants to get in touch with Nir, for speaking engagements or a podcast interview. You can find him on LinkedIn at or his website, which is, and his personal website, which is There’s a whole heap of information there about him.

    So thank you, Nir, so much for your time. I know you’re busy. I know you’ve got a family. I know your schedule is absolutely packed, but this is really, really meaningful to me. And I’m just glad that I can get your message out there through my medium.

    Nir: Oh, my pleasure. And I’m so appreciative for that. Thank you so much for spreading the word and helping make the world more indistractable. I really appreciate it, Mary. It was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you.


    Mary Henderson
    Mary Henderson
    Mary is a Transformational Leader. She amplifies ambitious, self-led and heart centred Industry Experts turn their knowledge, wisdom and skills into a go-to brand and business so they can create impact in the world.


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