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Tame Daily Distractions With a ‘Precommitment Pact’

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Tame Daily Distractions With a ‘Precommitment Pact’

Nir and Far,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Do you have difficulty staying focused? Make a pledge with yourself to stay on task.

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Many of the world’s most famous creatives share a productivity secret: Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Franzen and Quentin Tarantino all take extortionate measures to safeguard their focus and train themselves to be indistractable. By creating a “precommitment pact,” you, too, can protect your focus, allowing you to concentrate wholly on the task at hand. Author and lecturer Nir Eyal investigates the phenomenon of the precommitment pact and its pledge to rivet your attention.


Precommitment pacts are tactics that, combined with your willpower, help you to reach your goals.

Many accomplished writers – including Jhumpa Lahiri and Jonathan Franzen – initiate their creative processes by disconnecting from the internet. This is an example of a precommitment pact.

Screenwriter and movie director Quentin Tarantino even goes as far as to write his scripts in a notebook. This old-school method is his first line of defense against distraction. These prominent creatives realize that in addition to eliminating distractions, they must practice self-restraint to hone their focus.

​​​A Ulysses pact is a volitional decision that ties you to a desired future outcome.

Homer’s Odyssey provides a vivid example of a precommitment pact: Hero Odysseus attempts to navigate his ship past the land of the Sirens, a trio of enchantresses. He is aware that the Sirens’ song is so enticing that it impels sailors to steer a course toward the rocks or to jump into the sea. To evade such a fate...

About the Author

Writer Nir Eyal focuses on the intersection of technology, psychology and business. His books include Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.

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