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How to ask for distraction-free time without sounding rude to your colleagues?

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Rakesh Wadhwa:

A lot of productivity is lost because of incessant emails and calls. So how does one sensitize colleagues to the importance of leaving you alone without seeming rude or inappropriate

 

Nir Eyal:

Okay. So, let me actually take it and two parts.

We don't want to be rude. We don't want to be inappropriate. The best thing you can do to help others become indestractible is to become indistractible yourself. So, whether that's with your colleagues, whether that's with your kids, I see a lot of parents complaining about how their kids won't stop playing video games. And meanwhile, they're saying, get off, stop playing video games while they're checking Facebook and email on their phones. It doesn't work that way. We cannot be hypocrites. We have to set a good example in the workplace. It's the same thing. That the first step to helping others become indistractible is to become indestractible yourself. To show them how to live life better by becoming  indistractible. We've been here. We had a much worse habit, which used to be smoking used to be that about 40% of the United States population smoked. Today it is about 14% and a big reason why this change was that it became socially unacceptable to smoke in private area.

So, it used to be when you walked into someone's home, everybody had ashtrays. I remember my mother had ashtrays in our living room. And people just smoked in your living room, whether you smoked or not. This was in the 1980s. Everybody did this. Today that would be unheard of. You would never walk into someone's home and just light up a cigarette.

And in fact smoking has become something that the lower classes do. It's become a low status behavior to be a smoker. And that happened not because of laws, it happened because of a cultural change. It happened because of people like my mother, when someone came over and thought, Oh, I'm just going to light a cigarette in your home, she said, sorry, we are non-smokers. We do not smoke. If you'd like to smoke, if you'd kindly go outside. And that type of cultural change doing something a bit different meant that she was on the cutting edge. It felt a little bit uncomfortable. It was a little bit odd. It was a little bit unusual, but that's what it takes to make social change.

We need people, everyone listening to the sound of my voice right now to start calling themselves indistractible, just like someone would call themselves a nonsmoker. Having that identity, having that moniker. This is called an identity packed makes you more likely to do what you say you're going to do.

 

And helps create what's called social antibodies. It protects society when people have these new norms of behavior. So whether you've read the book or not, doesn't matter today, you can call yourself indistractible  So we need some bravery. We need some courage to start this movement to people who say, you know what, my time, my attention, my life is not going to be controlled and manipulated by others. I am indistractible. So that's a big part of it. Distraction at work Is a symptom of cultural dysfunction. Many people think it's the emails, the Slack channels. It's not, it's not the technology. It's about the culture of the company. And I show you there's these three attributes of an indestractible workplace that anyone can bring to the culture of their workplace environment, that help people stay focused. Help preserve their concentration and become indestractible.

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