I’ve made a decision this week to never use my mobile phone while driving.
Yes, I confess, I’ve done it before – and if you asked my children I was ‘arrested’ – for the record, I wasn’t, but I may have received a sizeable fine and a little bit of a damaged ego – but that’s a story for another day!
You see, the reason for my decision and declaration as above is that I’ve been doing a great online (and free might, I add) course about Mindfulness and Peak Performance. To tell the truth, whilst I’m a little behind, I’m actually loving it. One of the notions we have been learning about the attentional blink and that effective multi tasking isn’t really even a thing, nor is it a way to be more productive.
In fact, complex multi-tasking sees increased errors, missed information and increased stress levels, which all, in turn activate the part of the brain which sets off the stress response. Like, walking and talking is an act of simple multitasking, but driving a car and using your mobile phone is an example of complex multi-tasking.
You know, multi-tasking is actually a ‘misnomer’ – it is not possible for our brains to process two tasks/activities at the same time- so while we think we are doing two things effectively at one time – WE’RE NOT – sorry ladies!
When our focus is on one task, not only is it not on the other task, there is also time lost on the time it takes to switch between tasks.
This time is called the attentional blink – so when previously I was talking on my phone and driving my car – neither was getting my focused attention – so I’m here telling you, I’m making the change – and if you ever catch me – feel free to call me out!
Another point to note is that the more stressed we are, the longer this ‘blink’ is – it makes me wonder about those people who work with two computer screens – I would absolutely question if they believe this makes them more productive?? And if they do think they are more productive, are they really?
Efficient attention switching on the other hand is a learned skill and one that I see is necessary in our modern world. It sees intense focus on one task at a time, which decreases stress and increases productivity. Easier said than done, I know, but with practice, definitely an incredibly valuable skill to have in your repetoire`.
One way to learn this is through practicing mindfulness frequently, so when you actually need the skill, your mind knows what to do. They used a good example in the course about learning to swim – you don’t wait until you are the man overboard before you learn how to swim – you diligently went to the lessons and learned the skill as a preventative measure – mindfulness practice, therefore, is a preventative measure for good physical and emotional health.
So…. what simple actions can you do today that will help you be more mindful?
- Try catching yourself out and becoming more aware of your thoughts.
- Do one task at a time – I’ve got to say this is harder than it sounds. Keep practicing bringing your attention back to the task at hand.
- Practice self-compassion when you catch your mind wandering off – just be gentle to yourself as you bring your attention back.
Remember becoming more mindful is a process to be practiced and that small daily actions are what become helpful habits.
I love sharing this information, the more I know about it, the more I believe mindfulness has such a place in this modern world we live in!
So, I’ve committed to not using my phone while I’m driving, and I’m working on some other simple, more mindful actions, what will you commit to?