Ideas to overcome distractions
Consider the following terms that are associated with the word “work”. Some of these might come to mind: stress, pressure, team, and goal. Fun is one word that won’t be included on this list. In Indistractable (his latest book), Nir Eyal, an investor and author, presents the results of several research studies related to productivity, work and concentration.
While the book is filled with interesting reflections and anecdotes, the one that caught my attention the most was the need to rethink the way we view “work” and “fun”. Making work enjoyable is key to achieving your goals, no matter how distant work and play might seem. But here’s the catch: Fun doesn’t always mean “enjoyment”.
Eyal believes that our perceptions of work and play are limited. This means that work doesn’t have to be a burden and that fun does not need to be unpleasant. What is the importance of changing these beliefs? It is vital.
Eyal explained that by letting go of our preconceived notions of what fun should look like, we can see tasks in a different way. He cited the work of Ian Bogost (a professor of interactive computing at Georgia Institute of Technology). Play can be part of any difficult task. While it doesn’t have to be fun, it can help us get rid of discomfort. This is what drives distraction.
Gamifying a job is a common approach, but it can lead to the job being seen as undesirable. Monotony is caused by a lack of attention to the task at hand. This is a problem that can be easily overcome by focusing on the task. Instead of looking for external motivators such as rewards or rewards, pay attention to what is being done and look for ways to overcome obstacles. This can make the task seem more fun.
Television and social media are like slot machines that keep us addicted to endless novelty. The secret to blurring the line between work and fun is making our work the source for new ideas. This is how to make yourself “intractable” at work, and it’s also the key to being extremely productive.
How can this gamification work be achieved? Based on Bogost’s research, Eyal outlines for us some simple steps:
It may seem like basic advice but it’s a great way of digging into any topic and keeping the premise simple. Indistractable shows a simple example for grass cutting. Bogost decontextualizes everything, from its origins to the treatment methods.
Eyal said that Bogost was able to learn in-depth about grass cutting and the best equipment for his job. Bogost was able to work with the natural constraints of grass cutting, and create an imaginary playing field in search for new ways to conquer them.
Eyal argues for the concept of accepting discomfort, which is one of the most distracting aspects of work. He cites examples of seemingly insignificant jobs that have been honed over years to be sources of joy for others. These include a barista making the perfect cup of coffee or an experienced biker riding his bike. “Why can’t we apply the same mindset to other tasks?” Eyal’s undisputed argument against treating discomfort like a handicap.
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