I am a firm believer that there are certain situations in life where multi-tasking can be beneficial, and other situations where it undoubtedly kills productivity (or at least requires more time than a strategy of doing just “one thing at a time”). One set of scenarios where multi-tasking succeeds is that which results in Multiple Positives. I have been making use of this strategy for a couple of years, but only found out today that somebody had given it a name (see References below).
What are Multiple Positives? As defined at PicktheBrain.com, Multiple Positives are “activities that generate a positive return in more than one area.” Said differently, Multiple Positives are beneficial activities that can be done simultaneously. My favorite example? Listening to audiobooks while exercising (especially long runs). This gives me the benefit of learning via audio while gaining the benefit of exercise.
The end result is that you achieve more in a shorter amount of time.
Examples of Multiple Positives
Here is a list of combinations (with examples) to help you understand what I mean:
- Audio-Learning and Exercise – example: listening to a book while exercising
- Audio-Learning and Household chores – ex: listening to a book while doing dishes
- Exercise and Commuting – ex: riding your bike to work
- Exercise and Social Life – ex: joining a local volleyball league
- Social Life and Volunteering – ex: meeting other volunteers at a youth outreach center
- Skill Acquisition and Income – ex: selling photos online while learning photography
- Skill Acquisition and Social Life – ex: meeting new people while taking a cooking class
Some of these may seem obvious (perhaps you have never considered “meeting people” to be an active development of your social circles) but if you attend a cooking class and are intentional about meeting new people, you will almost certainly meet more people than you would otherwise.
Certainly there are other examples, and they will vary. Some combinations are almost universal while some combinations that work for one person will not work for another.
Audio-Learning as a Multiple Positive
Audio learning is perhaps one of the easiest scenarios to grasp, so I will briefly discuss it here. You can take advantage of audio learning to listen to books, language lessons, university lectures, speeches and more – all while accomplishing a physical activity. If done wrong, however, you will just end up with a situation of distracted learning combined with distracted work – not ideal.
The ideal times for multiple positives via audio learning are when you have a simple, repetitive task that needs completion – a physical task where your mind can go on autopilot. As suggested above, many daily household tasks fall into this category: doing the dishes, doing laundry, picking up the house, dusting, sweeping, cooking, eating breakfast, etc. These are all situations that require some of our daily time – so we might as well get more return on the time we invest.
Implementing Multiple Positives into daily life is not difficult. It often just requires that we shut off the daily auto-pilot that we lapse into while doing our daily activities. In other words, it requires a self-reflection of our day. What could we be doing to take better advantage of our time during the day? When you come up with some possible ideas, give them a try and see how they turn out. I’m not saying we should brush our teeth while putting on socks while peddling with the other leg to ride your bike to work.
Multiple Positives are just one tool we can use to increase productivity in our personal and professional lives. Where we choose to use them (and how often) is up to us!