Indistractable!

Hi there,

I read through the full manuscript for the English version of my book GRIP and it’s come together really well!

Erica Moore and Elizabeth Manton (who both also translated Humankind, the New York Times bestseller by Rutger Bregman) weren’t content to simply transform my Dutch text into English. They challenged me throughout and really took the work to the next level. We came up with new examples, added insight into working from home, and strengthened my arguments. They then made it into a beautifully inviting and readable book, matching the style and tone of the Dutch original.

I’m now working on how we’ll get it out into the world, and speaking with a number of parties about that. More news coming soon!


Today, I’ve got a brief follow-up for you to the Rethinking your evenings issue. And some things to try from Nir Eyal’s book, Indistractable.

About those evenings

My newsletter two weeks ago was a call to rethink how you spend your evenings. (Have a look if you haven’t gotten to this yet.) My experiment is still ongoing, but here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • Stay alert to distractions but not too rigid. I really enjoy the evenings when I’ve turned everything off. But it was also an exciting week for me, with lots of great stuff going on. It’s not about never ever looking at your phone, it’s about being clear in your intentions. Each evening’s a chance to start anew.

  • Your attention span grows each day and that’s okay. It’s crazy how hard it is for me to concentrate on a fantastic book and that I think I need something extra to spur me on. I try to treat it like a game, and I am seeing progress. With my devices out of reach, it gets easier from one night to the next. Though I noticed that as soon as devices are close by, I’m tempted straightaway. Give yourself this gift of screening out all things fleeting. 

  • Change things up and keep building. Maybe you hate the idea of a fixed rhythm for your evenings. Then having a few options to choose from could work better. Or pick a few evenings a week to do whatever you feel like doing (or alternately, choose specific evenings you fill with intention).

Start small, make adjustments as you go to make it work for you, and above all: Don’t give up too soon.

Things to try from Indistractable

Not long ago I read Indistractable by Nir Eyal and Julie Li. I got a lot out of his earlier book Hooked, about the ways digital products are habit-forming. There’s a lot of great stuff in this one too – things that may inspire you to try an experiment of your own. 

On email: Eyal sets aside blocks in his calendar for email, just like I do. But there’s a twist. He uses tags to roughly sort messages as urgent or not-so-urgent. He scans his inbox in the morning and assigns each message the tag Today or This week. He’s got time set aside in his calendar each day for that day’s urgent email. Plus a 3-hour block once a week for the rest.

On household tasks: Making time for to-dos around the house is important if you want to keep from getting irritated about them, Eyal writes. He and his wife decided to make a long list of everything that had to happen. They then divvied up the work and he reserved time in his calendar for doing it. 

On friendship: Eyal suggests you pick a rhythm for doing things with friends and a topic for your gatherings. He gives the example of a group of his friends that he meets up with every other week. If someone has to skip a week, that’s not a problem, but this setup eliminates the whole When-can-you-meet? dance.

And having a topic helps get the group to open up together. Eyal uses a Question of the Day. I’ve seen it with my book club: It’s a great way to start fresh conversations about things that matter, and not get stuck in small talk.

On input vs. output: Eyal lays out why your calendar works so well for work. Instead of focusing on what we end up producing, we have to look at the time and energy we’re putting in. You have limited control over how well your next project goes, but you know you’ve done your best when you make time for the work.

Focus on the things within your circle of influence: How you spend your time and how much effort you put in. Then use your calendar to give yourself the time you need.

Have a good week!

Rick