Do you suffer from Auto-Pilot's Syndrome?

My body has a nasty habit of doing tasks (incorrectly) even when my mind has completely disengaged from the task at hand.


Driving to work, I’ll take a left towards the grocery store, instead of taking a right where my f’n job is.

Unloading the dishwasher. My mind starts to wonder. so at some point I start LOADING the dish washer before I’m finished UNLOADING it. So I wind up with a dish washer that’s half clean and half dirty.
My biggest offenses happen when I’m at work. But I wont talk about those since you have to work there to understand what I’m talking about.

Yes, both of your scenarios are very familiar to me.

In fact, I have to often take great care when driving someplace that is close to (or on the way to) a familiar everyday driving destination (e.g. my work, kids’ schools). If I don’t concentrate like I’m taking the SAT, I will absolutely turn in the direction of my familiar everyday route and NOT go where I’m supposed to go.

This effect has gotten much worse as I’ve settled into middle age.

Everyone, pretty much without exception, is prone to this to some degree or another.

If you think you aren’t you just haven’t noticed or it hasn’t resulted in adverse consequences…yet

One comes right to mind.

Setup: I’m distracted by something, but I know I need some tool out of my detached well house (about 100 feet away).

Result: If I walk out my front door I will often go left, all the way around my house, to get to the well house. This adds 90 feet to the jaunt. If I’m thinking I go right which is straight shot to the structure. This has happened many times.

When I leave work each day, I load my dogs into my Jeep. They always load in the same order, as is their wont. Ella hops in first, then Kali, and finally Loki. I close the door and we head home.

A few weeks ago Kali apparently ran off to eliminate. I saw Loki hope in, so I slammed the door and drove home. On arriving home only two dogs hoped out. I rushed back to work and poor Kali was sitting there, patiently awaiting her chauffeur.

When leaving home, it’s not unusual for me to head in the wrong direction down my street. This is why, when stopped in the driveway to check for oncoming traffic, I’ve gotten into the habit of reminding myself where I’m going.

Driving for sure. GPS has made my spatial memory go to shit, so if I’m not paying attention without it on I’ll just go any direction I “usually go.”

I remember a psychology professor described to us how after driving home, he couldn’t remember anything about the trip. As I remember, the lesson was that repetitive tasks get basically forgotten.

Oh, hell yeah. I move around dazed and confused all the time. It’s in the same realm as going to a room and not remembering why. Or putting something safely away only to forget immediately where you put it. Story of my life.

I do this a lot while driving - it’s nowhere near interesting enough to give it the attention it really requires, so I’m happy to hand it over to the subconscious for most of it. I do ‘wake up’ now and then though, and the number of times I actually ended up at the wrong place I can count on one finger. (Was heading to work. Ended up at school. Dammit!)

Outside of driving this doesn’t happen anywhere near as often.

I do not.

This is what I trip over: When my mind starts to wonder, my body still moves and acts with the confidence that it knows EXACTLY what it is doing. Yet, that’s not at all what I wanted.

It’s like I got two people living in my brain that don’t care to communicate with each other much. :smiley:

One of my morning mantras is “Filter first, then coffee.”

It is thought* that most actions that are well-known operate “on auto pilot” and you are typically consciously aware of exactly what you are doing when you are doing something novel.

*I know that is a kind of wishy-washy term, but I don’t know a specific term for the theory or have links at the moment, but I have read about it in books

I’ve personally named it the “Simon Says” syndrome. I’ve tried to explain this to my managers at work, but they just don’t buy into it.

I work in manufacturing. A lot of our job is inspecting the “widgets” to make sure they pass the muster. The thing is, after you’ve inspected a thousand widgets, and they ALL passed, when you get that one widget in a thousand that doesn’t, you hit pass anyway. Because it’s a fast paced job, and that’s what your body is used to.

Only except from the managers POV, well, they’ve got it in their heads you’re not inspecting ANY of them. Which makes my blood boil. Yes I fucking am!

It doesn’t help with all the Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness ads up these days, asking for research donations or study subjects. Aging Boomers can use less panic, thank you very much.

Yes I do it driving. One place I lived, I mostly took lesser-traveled side streets to work and there was a lot of intersections and stair-stepping through blocks. I’d arrive and not remember a thing which scared me because I was riding a motor scooter and if there’s one thing you need to be while driving that kind of vehicle, is hyper-vigilant. But it still happens with my (current) motorbike only now I’m in a developing country with terrible roads and drivers who never look before pulling out into traffic.

I’m pretty sure my car has its own plan for me. I leave work with every intention of going home, but every night I find myself pulling up to the bar.

Yeah, my husband says that too. It’s convenient that the bar is on his way to, I don’t know, anywhere but home.:wink:

Found this article from last year.