Probably the most obvious productivity tip in the history of the world

Here’s a little peek inside my weird brain…

Like many folks, I have a dishwasher. Nothing fancy, but it load it up with dishes, add some soap, close it, and start it. An hour or so later, my dishes are clean and dry.

Thing is, I get way more satisfaction out of running my dishwasher if it’s running while I’m doing something else, like:

  • Sleeping
  • Running errands
  • Cooking
  • Working

So much so, that I’ll actually wait to run it until I’m about to start doing something else. Like I said: weird.

This is the same reason I love my slow cooker: I can fill it up with ingredients and start it, work all day, and have a meal ready to eat by the time the day is over.

These kinds of things bring Uncle Brett tremendous satisfaction.

Because, as far as I’m concerned, this illustrates one of the most generally applicable principles of productivity there is:

Do stuff while other stuff is happening.

Practitioners of this ground-breaking maxim will recognize that it plays out in one of two ways:

First: do something productive or interesting while also doing something mindless or easy. This could include catching up with a friend on the phone while you’re folding laundry or reading a book while you’re eating a meal by yourself.

Second: have a machine do something productive while you’re also doing something productive. The dishwasher and slow cooker examples are apropos here.

Either way, you’re doubling your productivity in one shot.

It’s not always possible, of course, since we only have so many machines to do our work for us and a fixed number of mindless tasks to complete.

Still.

The next time you find yourself saying “ugh, this [thing you need to do] is so boring,” ask yourself what you can do at the same time to help you get more done.

Which brings me to my Monday morning routine (as yet another example): After I drop my kids off with their mom first thing Monday, I come home and do two things:

  • Sort out the laundry and loading it into the community washing machines (then drying it, then folding it and putting it away).
  • Spot-clean the apartment (the bathroom and the kitchen both get a good scrubbing)

Soup to nuts, we’re talking about a couple of hours here. Those two hours are also my podcast time. Since I don’t need to think a whole lot while washing clothes or cleaning my sink, I can catch up on the podcasts I like which accomplishes two things: gets me caught up on my shows and alleviates some of the insufferable boredom that accompanies laundry and cleaning.

Anyway, there you go. Your homework for the weekend is to figure out a way to do two things at once. I don’t imagine you’ll have much trouble.

If you find yourself cleaning the commode, consider checking out the newest episode of my new-ish podcast. We released it this morning and it deals with transitioning between being a full-time employee to being self-employed. It’s a good one.

Grab it here if you get your podcasts from iTunes or grab it here if you don’t.

(“Duh” image courtesy of Sarah Deer.)

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