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In the last episode, I explained the benefits of single-tasking, or completing one task at a time, over multi-tasking. Well, in this episode’s tip: I’d like to introduce a new kind of productivity technique I’ve coined “meta-tasking.”
What if we can take the benefits of single-tasking–focus, greater creativity, more time to relax and less stress, and faster completion of tasks, and add the mythical promise of getting more done by multi-tasking?
First, break your day into locations and activities. For example, Home, Commute, Office, Gym, Commute, Home, and Bed are my basic times within which I control my work. Next, ask yourself what tasks daily, weekly, monthly, or any other repeating schedule, do I have to do things like meal preparation, laundry, cleaning, calling customer service or tech support with extended wait times, grocery shopping, etc. For each repeating errand, I can calculate conservatively from experience how much time they take. Finally, I look at my next-actions or projects list and find items that can be grouped together and done during these times when much of my activity requires waiting, for example, while the laundry and dryer are going, I can accomplish two to four 15-minute tasks.
When I’m planning my week ahead, I just review my calendar for these repeating errands and I can quickly and easily fill that time in with more productive tasks.
Remember, in order for meta-tasking to truly be beneficial is to prioritize tasks where shifting focus is minimal and gives you ample time to finish. Set yourself up for success by having small tasks grouped together. Satisfaction is the goal here, not just efficiency.