I’ve found as I get older, it gets more and more difficult for me to focus on one task at a time. Not because of some ailing mental capacity, but I think more because our world is pushing us into an extreme multi-tasking lifestyle. My average day is one spent with interruptions via email, text messages and phone calls while I’m trying to get some work done. It takes it’s toll on me, for sure. As I bounced from one thing to the next, I often found myself at the end of the day with very little results from all my efforts. I started to see articles that claim how bad this behavior was for us.
Changes I’ve made
I’ve done a few things to try to mitigate the onslaught of interruption. First, I have set my iPhone “do not disturb” times for 9 pm-6:30 am. This allows me to get the reading in I want to get done each night and an hour and a half in the morning to not have the world forced upon me.
But the bigger method has come as quite the accident. Several years ago, I got involved with high-speed driving events, where you take your car to a road race track (as opposed to a dirt track or drag strip) and learn how to drive your car at the limit. You start out with an instructor and work up from there. I’m fortunate enough to have four friends who are race instructors, so I was able to delve into this pretty quickly and comfortably. All I needed was a helmet and a good pre-track preparation of my car by my local dealer.
Intense concentration is the key
The sessions start out slowly and gradually increase speed around the methodology of trying to flatten out the turns so you can carry the maximum speed through the turns. You learn the basics, brake in a straight line, where the apex of a corner is, etc. After the first day, where I spent 4 20-minute sessions on track, I had a huge added benefit. I was completely relaxed like I had taken a week vacation.
What had happened to me was through the intense concentration of driving on a track, I was not able to focus on any other single thing in my mind. I had to spend the entire 20-minute session focusing on the car and driving, and the result was, I had cleared my mind of all the chatter and had not been distracted for 20 full minutes.
It was an epiphany for me. The last time I had felt this clear-minded was when I was at the shooting range. Shooting is a similar experience where you need extreme concentration to ensure you are safe, and you are hitting what you aim at. Although, the driving experience was much, much more powerful in its mental clearing ability for me.
The immediate result is that I am refreshed and able to focus more on the tasks at hand. It’s like I’ve given my overworked mind and memory a fresh reboot. I sure hope my brain wasn’t manufactured by Microsoft. No offense, but I need one that doesn’t need to reboot so often.
One would think that this has translated to me driving like an idiot above the speed limit all the time. Quite the opposite. I have found that with me getting my clarity on track, I am calmer everywhere in my life, especially when I drive on public roads. I have more respect for the roads, know the limits of my car better, but I also know that a public road is no place for auto shenanigans.
I’ve since become an avid track addict, including a membership to a local race track, where I can take my car and drive to the limits 5 days a week, during the day. So now, when I need a little break, a little clarity and focus, I head to the track to clear my mind.