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March 13, 2013

Make the Most of Your Week Lesson #1: “Strategic” Multi-Tasking

In the current world of productivity experts, multi-tasking is considered a “No-No.” Forbes Magazine recently described the perils of multi-tasking well:

“I know, you think you’re good at multi-tasking. And to some degree, you are. You can walk and chew gum at the same time. Folding laundry while talking on the phone? Not a problem. A clown can ride a unicycle while juggling brightly colored balls. This form of multitasking works because these are rote tasks that don’t require much brainpower.

Unfortunately, our brains just aren’t equipped for multitasking tasks that do require brainpower. Our short-term memories can only store between five and nine things at once.

When you’re trying to accomplish two dissimilar tasks, each one requiring some level of consideration and attention, multitasking falls apart. Your brain just can’t take in and process two simultaneous, separate streams of information and encode them fully into short-term memory.”

Lesson #1: “Strategic” Multi-Tasking

The Before:

Jeff V., a middle school math teacher in Brooklyn, recently got me thinking about his “strategic multi-tasking” which differs from both definitions provided by Forbes.

Jeff and Family

Jeff has three young sons, a huge Barcelona soccer addiction, an active blog life —and he’s an amazing math teacher.

Jeff manages to exercise (Crossfit, anyone?), but found he wasn’t getting enough spiritual fulfillment in his life. So, what did he do?

Jeff thought about how he could incorporate his desire for exercise with his needs for more spiritual fulfillment and came up with the plan below.

The After:

Jeff decided to listen to sermons online WHILE working out! He cues up the sermon the night before so he doesn’t waste time searching in the morning. If he’s not listening to a sermon, he has a free audio Bible app on his phone that allows him to hear the Bible read aloud while he exercises. Here’s a picture along with some powerful reflections on why he trains so hard.

Jeff didn’t try to combine two brain-hefty tasks, or even a hefty one with a menial one. He simply scanned his calendar for the week, considered his different roles as a teacher, athlete, father, husband and more—and then asked himself, “What can I combine to get the most out of my time?”

Other great examples of strategic time-tasking I’ve heard recently from teachers:

  • From a father of three who also wants to exercise—Doing Wii Fit with his11 year old daughter
  • From a teacher who wants to see her friends more in the evenings—Having standing dinner date with friends once a week
  • From an English teacher with a long driving commute—Driving while listening to audio tapes of books she’s teaching

The key here is all of these teachers first decide what they want to fit in a week, both personally and professionally, and then seek to combine whenever possible. They get the best of BOTH worlds.

Together Teacher Discussion Question: What are you “strategically” multi-tasking?

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