Published September 2019 on YouTube

250: Nir Eyal | Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

1. Introduction

Nir, a behavioral designer, shares insights on how to design your own behavior using consumer psychology principles. He also explains the concept of multichannel multitasking and how it can be done effectively.+

2. Stress and Distraction

Stress and Wearables:Nir and Jordan discuss how wearables can reveal the physiological effects of stress and how people seek relief from stress in different ways, including through booze and social media.+
Techlash and Addiction:Nir discusses the misconceptions around technology addiction and how any behavior can become addictive if it's used as an escape. He emphasizes that as long as the behavior aligns with our values, it's perfectly fine.+
Escaping Discomfort:Nir explains that all behavior is driven by a desire to escape discomfort, which is why people often turn to distraction. He also highlights how the pursuit of productivity can become a distraction in itself. Jordan and Nir discuss the importance of planning for distraction and finding ways to deal with discomfort without resorting to distraction.+

3. Motivation and Distraction

Understanding Motivation:Nir explains that motivation is not just about pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain, but rather pain is the driving force behind it. He emphasizes the importance of understanding and dealing with discomfort in order to avoid distraction and procrastination, and suggests fixing persistent sources of discomfort when possible.+
Mastering Distraction:Nir explains how blaming technology for distraction is not the solution, and how distraction has been around for centuries. He also talks about the media's tendency to perpetuate fear and loathing around new technologies.+

4. Technology's Gray Area

The Cost of Technology:Nir discusses the price of technology and how it's not a binary issue of good versus bad. He also shares how the Bible app uses behavioral design techniques to create habits for its users.+
Bible App and Hijacked Brains:Nir Eyal discusses how the Bible app uses hook models and how technology is not necessarily addictive or controlling people's brains. He argues that by telling people that technology is hijacking their brains, it actually plays into the hands of the companies who make this technology.+

5. Sponsors

Nir Eyal joins the show to discuss the psychology behind habit-forming products. The episode is sponsored by Zoom, a video conferencing platform, and Better Help, an online counseling service. Listeners can get a discount on their first month of Better Help with the code "Jordan."+

6. Screen Time Solutions

Kids and iPads:Jordan discusses the effects of screen time on young children and the potential consequences of relying on iPads as a parenting tool. He shares his observations on the relationship between screen time and language development, social interaction, and maturity in young children.+
Screen Time Solutions:Nir Eyal discusses the harm perspective versus the fear perspective of screen time and how to teach children to have a healthy relationship with technology. He uses the metaphor of a swimming pool and emphasizes the importance of age-appropriate content and the cost of opportunity. Jordan Harbinger adds insights on the dangers of addiction and the importance of psychological nutrients for children.+

7. Screen Time Guidelines

Screen Time Guidelines:Nir Eyal discusses the importance of setting screen time guidelines for children and empowering them to regulate their own device usage. He emphasizes the use of built-in tools and the role of parents in protecting children from excessive screen time.+
Kids and Tech:Nir explains how parents have always blamed external factors for their children's behavior, and how technology is the current scapegoat. He argues that the real reason why kids overuse tech is because they lack psychological nutrients, such as competency, autonomy, and relatedness. Standardized testing, for example, can make kids feel incompetent, which leads them to seek out online environments where they can feel competent and in control.+

8. Autonomy and Technology

Autonomy and Rebellion:Nir explains how children today rebel by turning to technology, such as playing Minecraft or Fortnite, because they lack autonomy in their lives due to the numerous restrictions placed on them in school. He also highlights that kids today are safer than ever before, and technology can have positive effects in keeping them off the streets and out of trouble.+
Technology and Distraction:Nir Eyal discusses how technology is affecting both kids and adults, leading to a decline in playtime and relatedness in children and causing distractions in intimate relationships. He offers a four-step model to become indistractable, including mastering internal triggers and making time for traction.+

9. Mastering Distraction

Mastering Distraction:Nir Eyal shares his four-step model to master distraction and increase productivity. He emphasizes the importance of hacking back external triggers and making pre-commitments to prevent impulsiveness. By mastering internal triggers and making time for traction, we can become the person we want to be.+
Time Management Hacks:Nir shares his insights on how to manage time better by scheduling important tasks on the calendar and removing external triggers like phones and screens from the bedroom. He emphasizes that if we want to be consistent with our values, we need to make time for them in our calendar.Show transcript +

10. Sponsors

Affordable Legal Services:Jordan Harbinger talks about the importance of legal services for businesses and introduces BizCounsel, an affordable legal service that provides a dedicated attorney for all your business needs. For only $89 a month, you get unlimited consultations and two contract reviews.+
Shirt Buying Made Easy:Jordan and Jason discuss UNTUCKit, a brand that offers shirts designed to be worn untucked. With over 50-fit combinations, UNTUCKit offers a variety of options for all sizes and shapes. Listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the code JORDAN at checkout on

11. Phone Hacks

Phone in the bedroom:Nir suggests leaving the phone in a different room with the ringer on for emergency situations. He also shares a hack to customize the "Do Not Disturb while driving" mode to filter out spam calls.+
Hacking Back Technology:Nir shares his experience with RoboKiller, an app that helps block robocalls by playing a fake message. He also discusses how he uses apps like Pocket and Voice Dream to hack back his technology and reduce distractions.+

12. Sponsors

Jordan shares how the Voice Dream app has made reading easier for him, allowing him to listen to books and articles instead of reading them. The app is especially helpful for people who are visually impaired and it syncs with iCloud.+

13. Faster Listening Tips

Faster Listening:Nir Eyal shares how listening to audio content at a faster speed has helped him save time, especially when it comes to reading articles. He also suggests using a pact to prevent distractions. Jordan Harbinger and Nir Eyal discuss their preferred listening speeds and how it has impacted their productivity.+
Preventing Distraction:Nir Eyal shares his techniques for preventing distraction, including using effort pacts, mastering internal triggers, making time for traction, hacking back external triggers, and preventing distraction with pacts. He also discusses how to reduce email time with Shane Snow. Jordan Harbinger shares his experience prioritizing fan interaction and managing his inbox.+

14. Mastering Email Efficiency

Mastering Email Habits:Nir shares his favorite techniques to reduce time spent on email, including the "touch twice" rule and labeling emails based on when they need a reply. He also explains how the variable rewards mechanic of email use can habituate us to constantly check our inbox, and offers insights on how to break this cycle.+
Efficient Email Management:Nir shares his technique for managing emails effectively by only responding to urgent messages every day and batch processing the rest once a week. This not only reduces the time spent on emails but also allows for better focus and productivity.+
Mastering Email Management:Jordan and Nir share their tips for managing email overload, including scheduling time for email, using a plugin to pause incoming messages, and utilizing the send later function to avoid playing email ping pong. They also emphasize the importance of not giving up on the system when it breaks down, but rather understanding where it went wrong.+

15. Becoming Indistractable

Nir explains the three reasons why we get distracted and how to become indistractable by managing our time and life. Jordan and Nir discuss how awareness doesn't always prevent distractions and how taking steps to mitigate distractions can be done gradually.+

16. Outro

Jordan Harbinger shares tips on how to build and maintain relationships through his Six-Minute Networking course, emphasizing the importance of not procrastinating and digging the well before you're thirsty. He also encourages listeners to follow him on social media and shares that most of his guests have subscribed to his course and newsletter.+