Bestselling Author Nir Eyal on Managing Workplace Distractions
Focus Techniques: Behavioral Design and Indistractable (Part 1)
An Introduction To Behavioral Design
I published my first book, “Hooked” in 2014. At the time, I had to convince people that behavioral design was a thing, and that we could use consumer psychology to change people’s behavior online. Essentially, behavior design is about how can we use consumer psychology to help people form healthy habits with our products.
Now, I think the pendulum has probably swung in the other direction. The popular mythology is “oh my god these tech companies are addictive to us”. I think that belief is pretty much rubbish, especially if you’ve actually built products. These product techniques definitely work on the margins but it’s not mind control. It’s about persuasion, not coercion.
The Potential For Behavioral Design
The reason that this concept is so valuable is that we can democratize these techniques. We can use the techniques that the tech companies use to form these consumer habits. In a sense, we can use these same techniques for good. An example is how Duolingo helps people learn new languages.
Not only is it good for the user it’s, of course, great for business. Unsurprisingly, it’s a huge competitive advantage to have a product that people use habitually. Therefore, customers are more likely to stay a customer, and get a lot of value from the product.
Motivations For Writing “Indistractable.”
I wrote “Indistractible.” for a few reasons. Mainly because I found that I was becoming unhealthily hooked to certain distractions in my life. In fact, I remember I was sitting with my daughter and we had some father-daughter time. At some point, I noticed that when I was with my daughter, I would show more affection to my phone.
I realized that if I’m struggling with this problem, then a lot of other people are as well. That is when I started to dig into this topic around why do we get distracted by technology. In fact, I read every book I could find on the topic and they essentially said the same thing. Basically, they all pointed the finger at technology products.
At first, I believed it because all the books said it was true. So I thought I didn’t have to write this book anymore. Eventually, I followed what all the books told me to do, and went on a tech detox. However, during that whole process, I was still getting distracted. I learned that it wasn’t the tools that are the source of the problem. That really, unfortunately, distraction starts from within.