For the longest time, I was convinced that I could multitask with the best of them. I shunned all of the productivity experts who swore multitasking was not possible or achievable, and I didn’t even consider any advice on how to multitask and how not to.
I was a successful multitasker, and that was that.
Of course, in recent years, I’ve identified many reasons why I shouldn’t have been multitasking all this time. Maybe it’s just as I’ve gotten older and my responsibilities have gotten more real, but I’ve realized that I make a ton of mistakes when I multitask.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t multitask at all! Let’s talk about how to multitask in a way that maintains your productivity and doesn’t end up being a waste of time.
How to multitask the right way
The key: Combine a task that requires focus with a task that does not.
Sounds simple, right? But many of us are trying to multitask by working on multiple big, important, detailed projects or tasks at a time. Instead, we should take advantage of more mindless tasks we complete throughout the day.
A few examples of opportunities for multitasking that can leave other hours of your day open for work:
One of my favorite mindless tasks to combine with work that needs to get done is doing and folding the laundry.
I take my laptop into the bedroom with a big hamper of clean clothes, and I watch training videos or even have phone calls while I fold the laundry. For example, if I know I should call a family member, I put my phone on speaker while I fold towels.
Folding clean laundry = 99.9% mindless. I can listen to the training video or be an active participant on the phone call while also getting the laundry done.
Similarly, I do the dishes, clean my kitchen and cook all while listening to training videos, podcasts and audiobooks. Self-development multitasking!
Hang with me before you panic, OK?
I am not suggesting you whip out your laptop in traffic. I’m just saying – if you have a regular commute, you can use that time wisely!
My commute to work is a great time for an audiobook, catching up on a podcast or taking a phone call (on speaker, I promise).
Obviously, I need to focus on the road, but I can do that while also listening to something.
Waiting in lines or in waiting rooms
Waiting in line at the grocery store or for a doctor’s appointment is basically dead time, as far as I’m concerned.
I definitely use this time to read a book on my Kindle. This is also the best time to catch up on emails that you need to reply to. When waiting for something, I shoot off a quick reply or two that I’ve been meaning to get to.