Today I am going to talk about this question of distractions. As you have likely seen over the past several years, it seems like we are constantly distracted these days. We sit down to do that big project and yet we find ourselves checking e-mail or slack. Why are we so distracted? Is technology really at fault here, or is there something deeper going on?

The Hooked Model For Super Focus

A few years ago, I popularized this model called the “hooked model”. It was a design pattern built into product experiences that are designed to get people to form super focus habits with a product. The idea is that every hook starts with a trigger. We have two types of triggers- external and internal. The external trigger is some kind of ping, ding, or ring in our environment that prompts us to action. 

After the trigger, we normally take an action that is done in anticipation of a reward. The next step is the reward phase. In the reward phase, not only does the user get what they came for-  there is this anticipatory response to what they might receive next time they engage with the product. This is called a variable reward or intermittent reinforcement and is based on the work of B.F. Skinner.  

After this variable reward part of the hooked model, we enter the last step- the investment phase. The investment phase is where the user puts something into the product in anticipation of some kind of future benefit, it’s not about immediate reward. It’s about some kind of future reward. There are two parts to this phase. 

  1. Storing of value in the product- which makes it better with continual use.
  2. Lowering the cost of investment- which makes it easier to use the next time. 

The Inspiration Behind “Indistractable.”

After writing my new book “Indistractable.”, I noticed that my behavior changed in ways that I didn’t like. I remember I was sitting with my daughter, Jasmine, and we had this book of daddy and daughter activities. One of the questions in the book was if you could have any superpowers, what superpower would you want?

I wish I could tell you what she said. Sadly, I can’t tell you what she said because I was busy poking around on my phone. In fact, I didn’t hear her response. Unfortunately, I’ve blown this perfect daddy-daughter moment. When I looked away from my phone, she’d left the room. Consequently, she played with something else and understood that whatever was on my phone was more important than she was. 

I felt horrible, and if I’m honest with you that wasn’t the only time it happened. I didn’t understand why. So, that’s why I embarked on this quest to figure out why do we get distracted. This way, if you asked me what superpower I would want today I would tell you I would want super focus and the superpower to become indistractable.

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About the speaker
Nir Eyal Bestselling Author Member

Nir Eyal is a bestselling author whose first book - Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products - focused on teaching design behavior in Silicon Valley product teams. His next book - Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life - provides a guidebook for getting the best of technology without letting it get the best of us. Prior to publishing these titles, Nir served as CEO at AdNectar and Sunshine Business Development. In addition, Nir lectured at Stanford's Graduate School of Business and Institute of Design. Nir holds an MBA from Stanford University and currently lives in NYC.