Here are some simple skills and techniques to help you sharpen your mind and keep your transporting game ahead of any competition.
A sharper mind will give better focus, help you to be more attentive on the road and deal with the inevitable workload that all transport operators face. Recently, if you have had more “concentration lapses” or been unable to keep your stamina at the required level for safety, it might be time to employ some of these techniques to re-evaluate where your mind is at and help ensure the safety of all your passengers.
How much consistent, quality sleep are you getting? We all love our bed and it turns out that regular or proper deep sleep is the key to brain function, but it isn’t just a good night’s rest that we need. In fact, research shows that naps can improve cognitive performance and even brief 5-20 minute “power” naps yield immediate results and therefore it is not surprising that innovative companies like Google and UK’s Manchester University have their very own nap pods or ZZZ Zones. While it is noted that napping on the road, in essence, poses its own safety issues, you could find time between trips to rest your eyes and reset. It is important to keep your naps under 20 minutes though because any longer and they become counter-productive and you will feel drowsy and irritable, so always set the alarm. Furthermore, one of the main causes of poor sleep for the working class is the amount of blue light you are exposed to before bed. Tablets and smartphones both emit shorter wavelengths which interfere with the production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, which means looking at your phone before bed can actually keep you awake. As a transport operator, your sleep patterns can be irregular as a result of the erratic hours that you work every day so it is, therefore, imperative that you plan your sleep and give yourself an hour to unwind before settling down for the night. It will sharpen your mind, improve your moods and concentration and reduce the chance of burnout.
- Cognitive Training
The phrase “use it or lose it” is so true when it comes to the mind and the more you train your brain and your co-ordination, the sharper they become. As a transporter, your reflexes need to be super-sharp, so you need to practice both cognitive functions and reflex actions. A Rubik cube is a useful tool as are puzzles like Su-Doku. Another option is to take up a new hobby or learn something new, for example learning how to play a musical instrument or a new language, in particular, has shown to improve overall cognitive ability.
- Set Yourself Challenges
Transport Operating can mean you follow the same thought process, driving habits and routes every day and if you have been doing it in the same area for a few years, you can find yourself driving on autopilot and using minimal brain and muscle power. Try to keep things fresh by challenging yourself at work, for example setting yourself strict time deadlines (with rewards if you make it) or making a conscious effort to interact with your passengers. Alternatively, you could investigate routes you have never tried before, or see if you could memorize a particular route without the use of GPS. One could also swap the vehicle with someone else in the fleet after a given period to keep from becoming stagnant.
- Manage Your Stress
Ground-transport operating is stressful and, while some stress is unavoidable and comes with driving on the road, too much stress can seriously hinder your concentration and cause you to drive differently. If you are too busy worrying about what could or might happen on the road and all of the trips you need to make, you aren’t using your abilities efficiently. There are some quick fixes to managing stress such as taking short breaks on long trips and ensuring the vehicle has enough ventilation and ambiance. This allows the operator the best chance to be ready to face any stress on the road in the right frame of mind. Alternatively, asking for help with any task that is not crucial to your role as a safe transport operator such as passenger bookings etc, can reduce pressure and help to keep you focused. There are also other methods such as meditation and yoga that can help. While they are maybe not suitable to practice at work (except in your lunch hour?) they can provide you with useful long-term techniques to help clear the mind and deal with day-to-day stress.
- Be Social
As social beings, human brains are stimulated by interaction with other humans as this creates an exercise for the brain in some of the creative centers, as well as the memory. Research among elderly people showed that social interaction helps to reduce memory decline and boosts brain functionality in the patients who had higher levels of volunteer activity as well as more frequent contact with neighbors, friends or family. As a transport operator, you are never completely alone, as you carry passengers for the most part of their day. A simple conversation more than just a meet and greet will help put your passengers at ease and allow you to stimulate brain functionality while making each day that much more interesting. Outside of work you should also aim to be social, but not just within the industry. Instead, ask someone out for a coffee, talk and laugh about random topics which will help reduce memory loss and keep your brain sharp for the future. It is so important to laugh and have fun as laughing can help to broaden your thinking while relaxing and refocusing your mind.
- Boost Your Organization
Being disorganized can leave you feeling distracted and uneasy rather than sharp, so there are a few simple things you can do to help boost your brain power. The first is to plan; fuel consumption needs to be accurate so that refueling can be done efficiently. The route that will be traveled that day must be diarized and being able to listen to a helpful traffic report throughout the day will minimize the effects of traffic. You want to maintain a safe, comfortable speed so therefore time management is crucial so that your passengers are not stressed out as a result of you being in a rush. Diaries also help you to ensure no passenger is left stranded if they have booked and you can take advantage of any planned events that are on offer in your area. Here you will find another 10 ideas for a more organized 2017.
If you are looking to sharpen your focus and get healthy at the same time, endurance exercise is the best type of physical activity to opt for. Long runs, cycling or swimming, or any exercise that requires being near your threshold for long periods of time will help improve brain concentration, stamina, and performance. Exercise also reduces age-related brain degeneration and keeps cognitive ability at its peak for those getting a bit older. Studies and research have shown that those who frequently exercise in this way are better able to allocate resources in the brain and process information quicker, leading to sharper reflexes and improved alertness
- Brainwave Entertainment
There are ways to stimulate the brain using pulsing light, sound or an electromagnetic field. An audio track that has repetitive sound patterns can increase your state of focus and keep you alert. Many studies have been done and showed positive outcomes that audio brainwave training can boost performance and reduce stress, particularly for those working in stressful environments. These tracks not only unclog your head space but may also increase the mood of any passengers who may travel with you while you play them. These tracks have also been seen to help deal with problems such as anxiety, which has loads of unseen sufferers.
- Watch What You Eat
Most of what we consume is used for fuel, so it is unsurprising to learn that the type of food we eat can affect brain functionality. For example, it has been suggested that avocados, blueberries, beet, and broccoli are all foods that can help boost alertness and memory. But, while “brain boosting” foods have been shown to have the minerals that help brain function in an absolute sense, a healthy, balanced diet is the best long term solution. The main point to note is sugar because, although you may immediately feel more focused, a high sugar diet can damage your brain function and will create erratic periods of focus and drowsiness, which can only be remedied by more sugar.
However, all things considered, sometimes you need something to push you through periods of tiredness on the road, and, if all else fails, small amounts of coffee can also help to stimulate the brain and improve short-term functionality. Beware although, this is not a reliable coping strategy, especially when the lure of energy drinks becomes too much. The long term effects of sugar far outweigh any short-term benefit that was enjoyed.
As discussed, there are many mechanisms you can use to sharpen your mind but essentially, it’s up to you to find which ones work for you. Challenge yourself, do not find yourself in autopilot, and improve your lifestyle. These ideas will all help to keep that sharp focus on the job. If nothing else, you at least now have an excuse for a “power” nap!