A few years ago, six to be exact, I commented to my coach at the time, that I was noticing my ability to focus in long workouts seemingly getting harder and harder. I loved intervals and things to “do” while training. When I was younger I was able to put my butt on a saddle and just ride. No music, no distractions, no need for special intervals to busy my mind. As phones and instant messaging starting to buzz in my pocket and the urgency of texting or accessing social media updates, I found my attention span was compromised. Coach looked at me like I had two heads since at the time it wasn’t nearly half as bad as it is now. But I knew something was up and might only get worse.
Yesterday, we talked about sleep. Today, we will talk about stimulants.
Really smart people in the world with PHDs and stuff, designed your little phone with such sophistication that we are literally addicted to the dopamine response from checking it every 30seconds. Very similar to gambling and the addictive behaviours associated with the chase for a win-fall.
“Refresh” floods our system with dopamine and we can’t stop ourselves from going back for more. So how does this affect our performance?
Outstanding performance and execution comes as a result of complete focus. If our brains are wondering if “so and so” liked my post or replied to my text, we are far from focused. In fact we are so distracted we may as well just be on the couch on our phones.
Like sleep, for the next two weeks, consider ways that you can check less, do more and use the cognitive energy in areas that help your performance vs hinder it. Studies show that simply turning the ringer off or putting your phone in your pocket is far from effective. We operate on will-power in those cases. And we know what happens when will-power is put to the test. Even reading paragraph is likely making you wonder about your phone.
The best solution to detach from your phone is to remove it entirely from your body, vision and environment. When the phone is removed from an athletes environment, there is proof that performance increases and even the impact of the training session was enhanced. The domino affect of removing technology “instant” calls for attention will impact your ability and willingness to perform, your interest in real people and your awareness of life around you.
What would you do with all that “checking, surfing, creeping and liking” time back in your life?
Sleep more. Rest more. Recover more. Perform more and more often.