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Are you running on auto pilot? Challenge yourself to stop!


Project Objective: To improve objective observation skills.

Project Duration: 1 or 2 weeks


During the course of any day, you are probably running on autopilot. What is autopilot? It is the conceptual idea referred to in psychology circles as the reflexive non-conscious mind, but I personally prefer the term autopilot.

For reflexive activities, it’s important that we run on a system of thinking that isn’t to exhaustive or time consuming. Because sometimes you need to be reflexive and have the ability to make quick decisions. But is it a good idea to run on autopilot 24/7?

In our day to day life, we can easily stay in this state of thinking because, it’s easier to use and it’s less time consuming than running on the conscious mindset system. But it can erode logical thinking and observation skills. For a good explanation of these concepts, listen to this Tedx talk by Marwa Azab. (Click Here) She mentions in the talk that our conscious mind “asks us for two things: time because it’s slow, and willingness to exert effort.”


To be an effective observer and increase your awareness, you need to get off of the autopilot system and run on the more exhaustive conscious system. But how do you go about this process? How can you take control and begin to use this system? What tangible steps can you use to begin this process?


In our fast paced world, we are constantly moving and allowing the system of things around us to set our pace. Have you ever felt that you didn’t have enough time to accomplish the things you want to or even had a moment to take a break?

Yes there are some valid things that require our immediate attention. Things like: a crying baby, a flat tire, eating, and sleeping are valid things that need to be attended to. But often times, it’s our own willingness to allow the world around us to set our agendas that leave us feeling so drained and non-observant; either that, or we have filled our time with activities and deemed them as necessity.

I challenge you for a week, to set your own pace for life and to be more observant. You will need to be: patient, diligent, as well as willing to forgo quick thinking and results.


You can go about this task however you want, but I would suggest having the following materials:

  • Cell phone or camera (To document what you observe)

  • Fill out the Observation Journal (DOWNLOAD PDF) print out or editable PDF. You can write in physical journal to document and catalogue your weeks observations or you can save a tree and just use the electronic document.

  • A timer (To set your when you will do this task as a reminder and to set a timer for how long you will be doing the observations.)


Fill out the observation journal at least 2 - 3 times a day. Set a reminder for yourself in the morning, afternoon or evening. Try to avoid observing the same things if possible. Document your lapses in attention to detail. Share your observations with those around you. Make sure you spend a minimum of 7 minutes doing this activity. Set a timer to ensure you don’t rush through the journal entries. Be as objective as possible.

Best wishes on this project and feel free to subscribe and tell me how your project is going.

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