Yes, You Can Multitask: Here’s How

People today are busier than ever. We pride ourselves on how much we can accomplish within a single day. In order to get as much done as possible, ambitious people often try to do tasks simultaneously. A lot of times, this is a bad idea. More than one study has shown that switching between tasks actually decreases efficiency. Neuroscientist Earl Miller believes, “People can’t multitask very well, and when people say they can, they’re deluding themselves.”

However, while going back and forth between tasks wastes time and energy, there are still many activities that, when done together, can improve your use of time. Certain tasks simply lend themselves better to multitasking than others. A good trick is to have one of the activities be something that can be done on autopilot.

I recently read this book (which I recommend) completely on the treadmill. After exercise, reading a chapter while walking was my cool down.

Walking, especially on a treadmill, is a great activity that you can do without focusing all of your attention on it. Sometimes I bring a book to the gym and read it on the treadmill. It’s a great way to work out my mind and body at the same time. Audiobooks are a better option for anybody that might get dizzy reading while they walk.

If no form of books appeal to you, podcasts are a wonderful way to learn about basically any topic that appeals to you. Besides while walking, podcasts are also great for in the car, while cooking or cleaning, or basically any task where your ears are available. One of my current favorites is Reply All, which is about the internet in general. I, of course, also recommend Adventure for those interested in design, marketing, and startups.

Another way to incorporate a bit more exercise into your daily routine is to do heel raises whenever you are standing stationary throughout the day, such as for a few minutes as you brush your teeth. This last week, I met my beautiful new baby niece. One day when I was holding her for a long time, I did a lot of heel raises. She calmed down and the next day I had sore calves from the exercise. The motion works your two major calf muscle groups.

While I mainly use Buffer for Twitter, I’ll sometimes also have it post for me on LinkedIn and Facebook at strategic times.

Another great way to multitask is to use devices that you can set to accomplish work for you as you work on other things. If you have a dishwasher, laundry machine, or slow cooker, it’s nice to use them in the morning so things are getting done while your focus is elsewhere. Services like Buffer are very useful for this. If I have a lot of things I want to tweet, but want them spaced out so they don’t clog people’s feeds, I’ll put them on Buffer. That way, as I go about my other tasks, I’m still posting at appropriate intervals.

My final multitasking advice is to take advantage of your “downtime.” There are likely several times during your day when you have just a couple free minutes. During this time, people often check Facebook on their phones or do a similar activity. Try to download a few phone apps that are quick and easy to use during small chunks of time. For example, Duolingo helps you learn a language in only a few minutes at a time. This time adds up. What are your best methods for multitasking?

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