Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Week Without Multitasking: Driving Unconscious

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am giving up multitasking for a little while.
Well... not completely giving it up... I mean, who am I kidding, right?
But I am making a conscious effort to be more present in my every day activities in hopes that I will train myself to be more "present" period.

Side note... It was killing me that I hadn't come up with a catchy name or (more importantly) a hashtag for this epic adventure because, well... that's what I do... and just as I was typing the previous paragraph, it hit me!

Project: Present (#ProjectPresent)

Ta Da!

(crickets)

Okay... moving on...

First up on my Project: Present agenda... Driving

Driving is a haven for multitasking... 
Physical multitasking: 
listening to music, news, or audio books... talking on the phone... eating
Mental multitasking:  
rehearsing a presentation I am about to give... running my to-do list in my head hoping I don't forget what I can't currently write down... replaying past conversation or events... new ideas... plotlines

But I am paying attention to the road, right?
I obey traffic signals and signs.
I am aware of pedestrians and crazy drivers around me.
I stay with in a reasonable speed limit.
I yield.
I signal.
Seems legit, right?
Until I consciously focused on being present behind the wheel, I didn't realize how often my car is being driven on autopilot.

A few days ago, I was leaving lunch with friends and on my way to pick up my kids.  I decided to be present while driving.
I treated getting into the car like preparing for meditation or yoga.
Just like becoming aware of my body and breath, I became aware of the car and the road.
No radio.
My phone on silent.
No reflection on the fabulous lunch and conversation.
No thoughts of what activities lie ahead once I reach my destination.
Nothing... but the car in my hands and the road ahead...
Feeling the hum of the engine.
The sound of the tires on the asphalt... the click when they hit the seams in the pavement.
Stopping on red.
Accelerating on green.
My mind and body focused on nothing but the 35 minute drive.

That was so effin' hard!

Just like in meditation, when I felt my mind starting to wander, I had to pull it back to center.
And my over-active brain was putting up one helluva fight!
But eventually (and sooner than I expected) it surrendered.

In that state of being completely present while driving, I felt very peaceful.
Light, even... almost weightless, for once.
I guess it was because I wasn't burdened by the heavy load my mind usually carries around.
It's interesting... it sounds like I was zoning out, right?
In reality, I was zoning in.
I was more aware of my surroundings... noticing new things even though I was on a familiar route.
Honestly, it was a tad bit scary to realize just how much my attention is not on the act of driving itself.

When I got to my destination and collected my children, I felt refreshed and ready to take on what the rest of the day had in store.
Wow!  I mean... who knew?

So... will I do this every single time I am behind the wheel?
Probably not every single time.
However, I have noticed that I am more prone to limit the amount of multitasking I do while driving to just one thing.  
For example, if I'm going to "write in my head," I keep the radio off.  Or if my kids are in the car, everything else is off.
And I've decided to stop eating in the car too... but that has more to do with my health than the whole multitasking thing.

How about you?  
Are you willing to try un-multitasking while driving?
Let me know how it goes :)