This is important: Focus on these words. Don’t think about your phone in your pocket. Don’t plan out the errands you have to run later. And don’t let your mind drift to that episode of Ted Lasso you watched last night.
OK fine, we admit it—it’s easy to get distracted, even when we try to focus on, well, focusing. So what can science teach us about staying in the zone and getting more done? Check out the five fascinating reads below to find out.
Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity
By Gloria Mark
It takes 25 minutes to bring our attention back to a task after an interruption—and we interrupt ourselves more than we’re interrupted by others. In Attention Span, a renowned psychologist reveals these and more surprising results from her decades of research into how technology affects our attention. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Gloria Mark, in the Next Big Idea App
Thoreau’s Axe: Distraction and Discipline in American Culture
By Caleb Smith
A Yale University professor examines how Americans came to embrace attention, mindfulness, and other ways of being “spiritual but not religious,” and how older Christian ideas about temptation and spiritual devotion endure in our modern ideas about distraction and attention. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Caleb Smith, in the Next Big Idea App
Brainhacker: Master Memory, Focus, Emotions, and More to Unleash the Genius Within
By Dave Farrow
A world-champion memorizer pairs his unique, tried-and-true methods with his own story, following his path to success as he searched for solutions to overcome his struggles with focus, memory, sleep, anxiety, self-esteem, and more. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Dave Farrow, in the Next Big Idea App
The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction
By Jamie Kreiner
A revelatory account of how Christian monks identified distraction as a fundamental challenge―and how their efforts to defeat it can inform ours, more than a millennium later. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Jamie Kreiner, in the Next Big Idea App
Tranquility by Tuesday: 9 Ways to Calm the Chaos and Make Time for What Matters
By Laura Vanderkam
For anyone who’s sick of letting to-do lists dictate their time, the bestselling author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast shares nine strategies for reclaiming your hours. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Laura Vanderkam, in the Next Big Idea App
The Key Ideas in 15 Minutes
“If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books,” Roald Dahl once famously said. The only trouble is, reading even one book from cover to cover takes hours—and you may not have many hours to spare.
But imagine for a moment: What if you could read a groundbreaking new book every day? Or even better, what if you could invite a world-renowned thinker into your earbuds, where they personally describe the 5 key takeaways from their work in just 15 minutes?
With the Next Big Idea App, we’ve turned this fantasy into a reality. We partnered with hundreds of acclaimed authors to create “Book Bites,” short audio summaries of the latest nonfiction that are prepared and read aloud by the authors themselves. Discover cutting-edge leadership skills, productivity hacks, the science of happiness and well-being, and much more—all in the time it takes to drive to work or walk the dog.
Go Deeper with a Next Big Idea Club Membership
The Next Big Idea App is free for anyone to try—and if you love it, we invite you to become an official member of the Next Big Idea Club. Membership grants you unlimited access to Book Bites and unlocks early-release, ad-free episodes of our LinkedIn-partnered podcast. You also gain entry to our private online discussion group, where you can talk big ideas with fellow club members and join exclusive live Q&A sessions with featured authors.
For a more focused learning experience, we recommend a Hardcover or eBook Membership. Every few months, legendary authors and club curators Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel Pink select two new nonfiction books as the must-reads of the season. We then send hardcover copies straight to your doorstep, or eBook versions to your favorite digital device. We also collaborate with the authors of selected books to produce original reading guides and premium video e-courses, 50-minute master classes that take you step by step through their most life-changing ideas. And yes, it’s all available through the Next Big Idea App.
Learn Faster, from the World’s Leading Thinkers
Whether you prefer to read, listen, or watch, the Next Big Idea is here to help you work smarter and live better. Wake up with an always-fresh Idea of the Day, the perfect shot of inspiration to go with your morning coffee. Then dive into one of our Challenges, hand-picked collections of Book Bites that form crash courses in subjects like communication, motivation, and career acceleration. Later, watch the playback of an interview with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Stanford psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt, or philosopher John Kaag. And be sure to check the “Events” tab in the app, so that you can join an upcoming live Q&A and personally chat with the next featured thought leader.
If you’re hoping to grow as a person or as a professional, we hope you’ll join us and tens of thousands of others who enjoy the Next Big Idea. Get started by downloading the app today!