Have you ever been behind someone in traffic who was driving exceptionally slow or erratically? Then when you passed them you see them speaking or texting on a cell phone? You have just witnessed fractured thinking. It doesn’t take much imagination to see what kind of safety problems this creates.
Fractured thinking occurs when you are forced to jump around from one cognitive activity to another, or splitting your thinking between multiple subjects. It is usually the result of interruptions, or outright hijacking, of your intellectual activity.
The interruptions and split focus effects us in places outside of our cars also. Imagine that you are working on a project and you get interrupted by a phone call, text message, or a personal visit. You don’t just restart right where you left off when the interruption occurred. Some back tracking is usually necessary. Sometime you even forget to get back to the original task. The next thing you know, you make a mistake and get to deal with all of the negative results.
It used to be good advice to not answer the phone every time it rings. Don’t let the phone dictate your work flow. Let the voice mail pick up or simply work in a different area. One without your phone. Working in a different area will not work anymore because we carry our phones with us. “Hands Free” functionality will free up your hands, but you are still subject to the interruption and fractured thinking.
Here is the trick. Realize that you are addicted to your cell phone. You do not have to answer the phone every time it rings or alerts you about an incoming text message. You still have the power to control incoming information and to channel it into a less destructive time. Really…You do.
Here is how. Select ring tones that can be assigned to specific callers or groups of callers. That way when the phone rings, you can make a decision about answering now or waiting on a message based on what ring tone you hear. Text messaging is even easier. Simply turn off the notification and check your phone for text messages at a better time. How many people text you in an emergency? Not many, especially if you tell them that text messaging is a low priority communication medium for you.
Don’t use emergencies as an excuse to continue your addiction. I have arranged with my family to make an immediate second call to me in an emergency. That second call within a few seconds tells me that I need to answer. A little planning on the front end saves me a lot of aggravation during my daily routine.
The take away is that you do have control over your cell phone. It is only a myth that you have to answer it’s every beck and call. The less fractured thinking you have, the better your performance will be and the more successful you will be. Not to mention having less stress.