Just recently in my weekly email, I declared that I'm quitting multi-tasking (if you're not getting these emails - you're missing out - subscribe below in the footer). For a long time, we've thought that multi-tasking is the ultimate solution to productivity. Read last week's blog post for my view on this.
I've kind of made up my own method to be super productive, without multi-tasking and having to juggle too many things at once. And I'd like to share this method with you, so you can increase your productivity as well.
Let me introduce... the zipper method.
Okay, let's walk through it. You know the zipper you've got on your jacket, skirt, etc. If you look at it closely, you see the alternating 'teeth' that when locked together, close the zipper (and hopefully hold together your piece of clothing). Well, I've started to look at all the things I do each day as individual 'teeth'.
Some of the tasks you do each day, like cooking, exercising, or working consists of a lot of 'inactive' time. For example, if you boil a pot of pasta water, the only 'active' time is actually filling the pot with water and putting it on the stove. Waiting for the water to boil is 'inactive' time. During inactive time, most of us reach for our phone to scroll through social media or something similarly unproductive.
Coming back to the zipper thing. Look at each side of the zipper as one task, and the individual teeth as sub-tasks or individual steps. You can alternate the individual steps of two separate tasks, to make the most use of your time. Without having to juggle or multi-task.
This, is what I call the zipper method. Alternating the individual steps of two separate tasks, to make the most use of my time.
Alright, assuming you were able to follow my hopefully simple explanation above, let's look at how you might use this method.
Start with a task that has some inactive time. Think about the individual steps of this task, and when you might be able to use the inactive time for something different. Then, bring in one or more active tasks that you can fill your inactive task with.
Avoid making it too complicated, jumping between several different tasks. That's just too close to multi-tasking for comfort. Start with two tasks only.
Let's continue with our cooking example above to show how you might apply this in practice. Most evenings when I finish work, I need to cook dinner and complete my daily workout. I love cooking things in the oven, because it gives me a lot of inactive time. A common meal for me is roasted potato bowls. I pop the potatoes in the oven, and then have about 45 minutes of inactive time. Immediately, I do my daily workout, which goes for about 30 minutes, and I finish just in time to have a quick shower and then continue with making dinner.
Now, this is a quite simple example, but extremely effective. Some other examples of tasks with inactive time might include when you're uploading content onto your website, downloading software, waiting on hold for customer service, travelling on a bus or train, getting a pedicure... You get the picture.
I hope the zipper method can help you to be more productive and efficient without having to multi-task. Let me know how you're going to use this in the comments below.
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What do you do, when working hard is defined by the number of hours you work? Do you care about perception?