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How Not to Make Decisions That You’ll Regret Under Extreme Stress

How Not to Make Decisions That You’ll Regret Under Extreme Stress

On may 31 2009 Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all aboard.[1] Prior to impact, the pilots struggled to correct the plane as faulty readings blared out. In their confusion, they drove the plane ever upwards in an increasingly steep climb. Eventually, the aircraft stalled, and dropped from the sky.

    Analysis of the crash and black box led researches to ascertain that two things led to the tragedy.

    1. Mechanical malfunction (Ice built up in key tubes, which led to the plane giving out false readings). This is easily fixable and quite common.
    2. Cognitive tunneling.[2]

    What Is Cognitive Tunneling and Is It Bad?

    Cognitive tunneling, or inattentional blindness is a common mental state where your brain focuses on things closest to you, instead of trying to evaluate everything around you.[3] It is not without benefits though. Without it, it is possible we could become overwhelmed by all the information around us. It is perfectly normal, and occurs as much in the highly motivated and intelligent as the unmotivated and unintelligent.

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    However, as the above example with Flight 447 shows us, there are times when having a complete understanding on what is going on around us is critical, and in this way, cognitive tunneling can lead to disaster.

    For example, if the pilots of flight 44 took a moment to fully assess what was going on around them, it is perfectly possible they could have corrected their flight, and later landed safely. But instead, through cognitive tunneling, they didn’t become aware of the problem because they weren’t paying attention to what was really going on.

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          Overly Focused Blinds the Brain

          It is as Charles Duhigg says in his book Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business,

          “Cognitive tunneling can cause people to become overly focused on whatever is directly in front of their eyes or become preoccupied with immediate tasks. It’s what causes drivers to slam on their brakes when they see a red light ahead.”

          For most of human history, situations where it was critical to have a complete picture of what was going on around you, instead of a particular point, were pretty rare. If you were out hunting, for example, cognitive tunneling could keep you focused on your pray, and not, at a fly beside you. Cognitive blindness cuts out information our brain considers irrelevant to the task at hand, but due to our current high stakes, high speed world, that isn’t so much the case and sometimes we need to be aware of what is going on around us.

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            Be Attentional to the Inattentional

            What does it mean? Because cognitive tunneling is a natural mental state, it isn’t something that you can really turn off. However, there are two ways to effectively counteract it. All you need to do is be attentional: to anticipate and think.

              Anticipate

              When presented with problems that we have already experienced, it is normal for our minds to turn to the way they were resolved before. This can be effective, however there is no real reason to believe the same solution will work again, or is the perfect one for another time.

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              With cognitive tunneling, our minds will naturally skip over other solutions that may present themselves and refer to our older (possibly inferior system). If it doesn’t work second time around, then the problem stays but this time you are blind to other solutions.

              For example, Bob is driving his car, and his engine breaks down. He remembers how this happened a few months ago and how he resolved it. But this time the solution doesn’t work and his car still refuses to start. If Bob were to have, before driving, thought about his car, and anticipated what problems may arise in the future, then he would be in a better situation to resolve issues as they arise by countering his cognitive tunneling with another solution ready.

              Don’t React, Think!

              It is often unclear when your mind is overwhelmed with information and goes into cognitive tunneling before it is too late.

              No one can predict every single problem or emergency which may arise. But instead of reacting to the issue and robotically going through a checklist, think about the problem, describe exactly what is going on, and try to anticipate the results of everything, then you’ll be able to master any problem you come up against.

              Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

              How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them 5 Tips To Stop Feeling Overwhelmed And Overcome Procrastination How To Make A Vision Board That Works 35 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2020 Updated) 7 Tips for Overcoming Challenges in Life Like a Pro

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              Last Updated on March 17, 2020

              4 Simple Ways to Make Boring Work Become Interesting

              4 Simple Ways to Make Boring Work Become Interesting

              Are you bored at work right now?

              Sitting at your desk, wishing you could be anywhere other than here, doing anything else…?

              You’re not alone.

              Even when you have a job you love, it’s easy to get bored. And if your job isn’t something you’re passionate about, it’s even easier for boredom to creep in.

              Did you know it’s actually possible to make any job more interesting?

              That’s right.

              Whether it’s data entry or shelf stacking, even the most mind-numbing of jobs can be made more fun.

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              Understanding the science behind boredom is the first step to beating it.

              Read on to learn the truth about boredom, and what you can do to stop feeling bored at work for good.

              VIDEO SUMMARY

              I’m bored – as you’re watching the same film over and over again, even though it’s your favorite one

              When you experience something new, your brain releases opioids – chemicals which make you feel good. [1]

              It’s the feeling you might get when you taste a new food for the first time, watch a cool new film, or meet a new person.

              However, the next time you have the same experience, the brain processes it in a different way, without releasing so many feel-good chemicals.

              That’s why you won’t get the same thrill when you eat that delicious meal for the tenth time, rewatch that film again, or spend time with the same friend.

              So, in a nutshell, we get bored when we aren’t having any new experiences.

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              Now, new experiences don’t have to be huge life changes – they could be as simple as taking a different route to work, or picking a different sandwich shop for lunch.

              We’re going to apply this theory to your boring job.

              Keep reading find out how to make subtle changes to the way you work to defeat boredom and have more fun.

              Your work can be much more interesting if you learn these little tricks.

              Ready to learn how to stop feeling so bored at work?

              We’ve listed some simple suggestions below – you can start implementing these right now.

              Let’s do this.

              Make routine tasks more interesting by adding something new

              Sometimes one new element is all it takes to turn routine tasks from dull to interesting.

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              Maybe there’s a long drive you have to make every single week. You get so bored, going the same old route to make the same old deliveries.

              Why not make it a routine to create a playlist of new music each Sunday, to listen to on your boring drive during the week?

              Just like that, something you dread can be turned into the highlight of your day.

              For other routine tasks, you could try setting a timer and trying to beat your record, moving to a new location to complete the task, or trying out a new technique for getting the work done – you might even improve your productivity, too.

              Combine repetitive tasks to get them out of the way

              Certain tasks are difficult to make interesting, no matter how hard you try.

              Get these yawn-inducing chores out of the way ASAP by combining them into one quick, focused batch.

              For example, if you hate listening to meeting recordings, and dislike tidying your desk, do them both at the same time. You’ll halve the time you spend bored out of your mind, and can move onto more interesting tasks as soon as you’re done.

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              Break large tasks into small pieces and plan breaks between them

              Feeling overwhelmed can lead you to procrastinate and get bored. Try breaking up large tasks into lots of small pieces to keep things manageable and fun.

              Try breaking up a 10,000 word report into 1000-word sections. Reward yourself at the end of each section, and you’ll get 10 mini mood boosts, instead of just one at the end.

              You can also plan short breaks between each section, which will help to prevent boredom and keep you focused.

              Give yourself regular rewards, it can be anything that makes you feel good

              Make sure you reward yourself for achievements, even if they feel small.

              Rewards could include:

              • Eating your favourite snack.
              • Taking a walk in a natural area.
              • Spending a few minutes on a fun online game.
              • Buying yourself a small treat.
              • Visiting a new place.
              • Spending time on a favourite hobby.

              Your brain will come to associate work with fun rewards, and you’ll soon feel less bored and more motivated.

              Boredom doesn’t have to be a fact of life.

              Make your working life feel a thousand times more fun by following the simple tips above.

              Reference

              [1] Psychology Today: Why People Get Bored

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