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Is There a Better Way? Rethinking Life Without Autopilot

In every area on your life, you have processes that you follow. In something as small as how you get out of bed, to the exact same route you take to work, to the order in which you go through the grocery aisles. Much of our lives are lived in autopilot. Have you ever gotten to work and couldn’t really remember anything about the trip? While in the car your brain was thinking of today’s to do list or worrying how you are going to get both kids to practice tonight. All of the while, you put your commute on autopilot and missed the whole thing. When you started your current job, you put thought into how you completed each task, but now you don’t think twice. You robotically move through your to-do-list without thinking of ways to improve upon your methods.

If we can take an important task like driving 3,000 pounds of metal at 60 miles per hour just feet away from other 3,000 pound vehicles, what else do we take for granted? The attitude of “that’s how we have always done it” shows up in many areas of our lives. We become so lost in our thoughts that we don’t live in the moment. We don’t think about the important work that we do and how we could do the work better or more quickly.

Today, take one process that is on autopilot for you and ask yourself with each step “Is there a better way?”. Take the commute process for example:

Do you sit in traffic during your commute? What would happen if you left your house 10 minutes earlier or later, would there be less traffic? Is there another route that would have less traffic and get you to work on time?

Do you sometimes have to wait for the train? What days does the train slow you down? Do you wait for the train on days when you are a few minutes early or late?

Start to write down the major pain points that you feel; note the time of day, the day of week. Do you see a pattern?

Now take that work that you and 15 other co-workers do. Start to question whether you could sit in “less traffic” with every step of the process. Ask yourself “Why” questions. Why do we do this? Why is this important to the customer? Why does this step make my product better for the customer?

Give yourself permission to come out of autopilot. It will give you a new appreciation for the hard work that you do as well as the product you create for your customer.

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