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Can’t multitask? Here’s the help you need

  • Reading time : 3 minutes.
  • Saved time : an awesome lot.

First of all, you should know that not everybody advocates multitasking. Scientific studies certainly don’t. Multitasking, they say, can hinder your performance, or lower your ability to focus in the long run.

That being said, it is a glorious feeling indeed to earn time by facing several tasks at the same time. It multiplies the “Hey I got things done” fulfilment feeling tenfold for sure 🙂

And multitasking can be optimized.

So without further ado, here are my 4 rules for Optimal Multitasking.

1. First Rule of Multitasking : Juggle with your feet !

Juggle with your feet ! Optimal Multitasking occupies different parts of your body or cognition.

In a word, you can juggle with activities as long as they do not mobilize the same senses or body parts. If you are juggling with 3 rings, your 2 hands are being used up in the process, but what about your feet ? You can also juggle with them if you will 😉 Of course, this is just a metaphor to say that you can use all the body parts which are not busy yet at a given moment.

For instance :

  • Listen to a podcast (which occupies your ears and brain) while you are running (occupies your legs and arms).
  • Take a warm salted feet bath at the end of the day while typing a few emails
  • Do Kegel exercises, or contract the abdominals during boring meetings (because nobody can see you anyway 😀 )

The rule is just to be creative and think out of the box !

2. Second Rule of Multitasking : Take It Easy!

One very often overlooked precaution is to :

Take it easy ! Optimal Multitasking utilizes your body without overwhelming it.

You can pile up activities which occupy different senses / body parts, or even the same sense / body part, provided that these do not exceed an overwhelming limit. For instance, you can watch your kids while watching a pleasant movie : both use your senses of sight and earing, but one activity is alternatively more focal and the other more peripheral. So it’s ok to switch focus between these 2 and “combine” them together in the first place.

Test Your Limits without breaking the Focus Ceiling

Following the above rule, you don’t want to multitask activities which utilize too much of your brain at the same time, activities which break what I call the “Focus Ceiling” : the maximum amount of global focus you can give at a certain time. For instance, watching a webinar for work while answering your emails might be a bit too much.

If you are facing such a multitasking possibility though, you can still give it a try, just to test your limits. But make sure you…

Don’t break the Focus Ceiling !

If you often end up having to go backwards a few seconds because you didn’t quite catch a certain sentence, that’s the proof that you are just losing more time than what you are earning and you should consider mixing different activities together instead.

3. Third Rule of Multitasking : It’s Better If It Doesn’t Really Matter

You can also add to your multitasking mix some activities which do not intrinsically require you to perform, activities which the result of do not matter much : typically the urgent but not important actions from the Eisenhower matrix which you could not delegate.

For instance, folding your laundry. You can do that while watching a webinar or listening to a podcast, because even if your laundry is not folded perfectly, it’s not a catastrophe because there is plenty of room for error here 🙂

4. Fourth Rule of Multitasking : Apples and Oranges don’t mix

It is a well-known fact apples and oranges don’t mix. Well they won’t mix in multitasking either 😉

So what if activities don’t fit together ?

For instance, what if you want to take a bath at the end of the day to relax your sore body but :

  • You don’t want to bring your smartphone or laptop in the bathroom because you know the vapours will damage the electronics ? (believe me, they do)
  • You can’t bring in contracts to read either because your hands are wet and you could damage them?
  • In a nutshell, what if you can’t get ahead of your work by multitasking during certain activities ?

Well in that case, you should consider the very nature of the activity involved and try to see if you come up with new ideas related to that same nature. In this example you want to relax your body, but also (I imagine) your mind. So why wouldn’t you take advantage of this time for yourself to have another relaxing activity like meditating, or focus on your breathing, or just… You know, do nothing 😉

Properly relaxing will ultimately enable you to clear your mind from all the clutter, resulting in you being more focused, more energetic, more confident, more efficient.

So to sum up, we covered together the 4 rules of multitasking :

  1. Juggle with your feet
  2. Take it easy + don’t break your Focus Ceiling
  3. It’s better if it doesn’t really matter
  4. Apples and Oranges don’t mix.

Now you have everything to multitask like a King. May I add you can see all this like a game and you will enjoy it even more 😉

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