Multitasking the right way

Multitasking the right way

I am a horrible multitasker. I’ll surfe the net while talking to my sister on the phone, or I’ll be waiting for my favorite show to come on telly only to check Twitter as soon as it starts. I end up with only a vague idea of what the show or the phone conversation was about and no idea whatsover what I have just “read”. It’s ridiculous! And science agree.

Studies have shown that people who do media multitasking (like reading this blog while watching TV ), are not able to filter out what’s relevant and what is not. Other studies have shown that there is a time cost involved in multitasking, that rather than being more efficient, you are actually hindering your productivity by attempting to do more than one task at a time.

So why am I still doing it? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s certainly not because I think I am being more efficient, because I know I’m not. It’s rather a compulsion, one that I’m trying to stop, and it’s probably due to my shallow brain.

How to multitask properly

And yet here I am, writing about the right way to multitask. Have I lost it? Nah. Because while the studies bring up valid and important arguments to keep in mind, there are still ways of doing several activities at once without losing out.

The studies indicate that the detrimental effect of multitasking occurs when we shift out attention from one task to another or from one media to another. To make multitasking work for you, you need to avoid this situation. So instead of shifting between two projects, you combine two tasks and do them at the same time.

There are essentially two ways of doing this. You either combine physical activity with mental or social tasks or you utilize forced waiting time to do micro tasks. By combining activities like this, you get to do more in less time, allowing you to achieve more.

Still not sure what I’m talking about? No worries, I’ve made a list of examples of how you could do several tasks at the same time without losing out:


Biking with a friend is the right way of multitasking. You combine being social and exercising in one go.

Have a walk-and-talk meeting.
Studies indicate that lack of movement, whether it is due to you sitting or standing all day, is detrimental to your health. While many tasks have to be done in front of a computer these days, not all meetings need to be conducted in an office. With a walk-and-talk you get to exercise at the same time, plus many find that the movement is beneficial to their creativity.

Go for a bike ride with a friend.
You get to hang out and be social with your mate and you can cross of exercising of your to-do list.

Learn a language while brushing your teeth.
You brush your teeth twice a day (I hope …). Why not use the time to accomplish something more than aimlessly staring at your own reflection in the mirror. Put up a list of French irregular verbs or Spanish nouns or German phrases or whatever language you are trying to learn on the inside of your cabinet doors and go through them every morning and evening when you brush your teeth.

Get fit playing with your kids.
Work up a sweat by dancing vigorously with your kids or chase them around the house or build up strength by using your toddler as a weight. Most kids love physical games, especially with their parents, so they’ll have a lot of fun and you get to have a work out for free.


What could you do while your coffee were brewing?

Get strong while making coffee.
When I work from home I make coffee in a Bialetti moka pot. This usually takes a couple of minutes or so to brew. Inspired by Dr BJ Fogg and his tiny habits, I have taken to do pushups or squats while waiting for my coffee. What could you do in the time it takes for your tea or coffee to brew?

Clean your inbox while waiting for the bus or the train.
You might be stuck at the bus stop or train station while you wait for your transportation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get things done. Delete spam, answer quick e-mails, move others to the archive. Aim for the inbox zero.

Educate yourself while commuting.
Most of us have to commute to work in some form or other. Use the time in transit to learn new skills, get a deeper understanding of a subject or to stay up to date with the changes in your sector.

Keep a book at hand.
Whether it is a physical book, your kindle or an e-book on your phone, having a book ready  at all times makes it easy to catch up on your reading. Instead of flipping through a two year old magazine waiting at the dentist, wouldn’t you rather read something of your own choice?

Are you a multitasker, for better or worse?

What do you want in life?

What do you want in life?

Life is a one time journey, and yet som many of us settle for drifting through at random rather than mapping out the destinations we would like to see. And sure, it is sometimes fun to go on a whim. But wouldn’t it be nicer to be in charge, to steer your life in a direction that you have set, rather than being led by circumstances?

Do you have a clear grasp of what you want in life? Not just what you wish for, but what you truly want? Then you are ahead of most people.

Here’s a challenge: Before you read on, take a minute and write down 8-10 things you want in life that you don’t already have. This could be anything from a possession to an experience to a career goal or a relationship status.

It is easy to get your wishes and your wants confused. A wish is something that would nice to have, a fortunate situation, a daydream you don’t really see yourself fulfilling: I wish I had a million pounds. I wish I could loose weight. I wish I could be as famous. I wish I drove a Ferrari rathern than a Ford. A want, on the other hand, is more than a flimsy wish. It’s something you truly desire: I want to be a mother. I want to double my salary within the next five years. I want to loose ten kilos.

They look so similar,but unless you know the difference, you could easily spend years dreaming your life away. Luckily, there’s also a very simple method of discovering if what you are daydreaming of is a wish or a want. Just ask yourself this one single question: Am I willing to take action to make this come through? If your answer is no, then you know you are dealing with a wish and you should stop wasting more energy on it. But if you find yourself saying yes, then you can be sure this is something you really want – and it is time to take action.

Challenge update: Look over the list you made earlier and ask yourself the control question: Am I willing to take action to make this come through? How many of the items on your list did you answer yes to?

When you know what you really want in life, you have the advantage of being able to map out the road that will take you there. You won’t get confused by the mirages created by flimsy wishes, but you’ll be able to stay on the path you have decided upon.

Challenge update: Discard your no-items from your list and focus on your yes-items. What actions, small and large, would you need to take to achieve what you want? What action, even if it’s a tiny one, could you do today that would get you started? Got it? Great, now go do it!

My Five-Minute Morning Mantra

My Five-Minute Morning Mantra

Do you ever have one of those mornings where you wake up feeling great, but then somewhere between your bedroom and the bathroom something happens, maybe you stub your toe or one of the kids throws a tantrum, and then the positive attitude just disintegrate and somehow your serene morning has turned into pandemonium. Or maybe that’s just me …?

We had our second child a year ago, and so this last year has been a state of emergency as far as sleep and peaceful mornings are concerned. But finally, finally, the little one seems to get the hang of sleeping through the night (at least some nights), and we are slowly getting back to feeling somewhat alive in the mornings. On the mornings my husband gets up with the one-year old, I will inevitably wake up to the sounds of my family getting dressed and having breakfast. I used to stay in bed, desperate for those extra minutes of sleep, until my husband brought me coffee, but one day I woke up and realised I didn’t need any more sleep (gasp! the luxury of it!). It was the realisation that I no longer needed to make sure I got every single minute of sleep possible in the mornings, that prompted me to start this little five minute morning ritual.

The Morning Mantra
As soon as I wake up, and before I even have had a glance at my phone, I sit up in bed as if meditating, with a cushion under my bum. This allows me to sit straight, with my spine in a neutral position, without sinking into a slump because of the mattress.

I pick an attitude or a value I would like to focus on that day, and this gives me my mantra for the day. If I hear there’s chaos or arguments over clothing (a common theme in our house) on the other side of the door, I might want to prepare myself for that by using the mantra “I am calm and serene, a loving mum”. If know I have a busy day ahead of me, I might use the phrase “I am organised and productive, I get things done.” I will repeat this while I breath calmly and concentrate on how I feel and act in situations where I might be tested on this.

I didn’t really expect much when I started doing this, but I discovered that the mantra set the tone for the day and provides an anchor when I am about to drift off into the chaos of everyday life. If my five-year old is testing boundaries, I will repeat the mantra “I am calm and serene, a loving mum”, and it helps me revert to that calm state rather than get involved in an argument with her. By having a sentence to revert to, and linking it to the quiet feeling of the half-meditative state in the morning, I am able to carry the intention in the mantra long into the afternoon in a way I have never been able to from the positive feeling I randomly will wake up with.

As prescribed by the doctor
Interestingly, a few weeks after I started doing this, I came across a similar advice in a book I was reading at the time. The book is called Confidence, by Dr. Rob Yeung, a British psychologist. In this book, he suggests that:

early on in your day, you think back to the vision of the life you’d like to lead and the goals you’d like to achieve. Then decide on an attitude or mindset consistent with your values and goals that you will adopt for the day to help you feel more positive and confident. (…) This isn’t just wishful thinking. This is (…) a subtle encouragement to look at opportunities and situations in a better way.

Do you have a morning mantra or a morning ritual to set the day?

5 ways to find time to study

5 ways to find time to study

You have probably heard all the sayings: Leaders are readers. Knowledge is power. The book you don’t read won’t help. And so on.

But you might find it hard to sit down to study after a hard day at work. Maybe you’ve had a long commute too. Maybe you have children in need of food an attention when you get home. There just don’t seem to be any time or energy left to read, study and work on your self-improvement.

At least there won’t be unless you make it a commitment and find ways of incorporating it into your daily life. Here are five ways of making sure you find time to study every single day.

1. Get up half an hour early.
Books have been written about the power of the early morning starts, and some advocate getting up at five in the morning to make the most of the day. However, unless you are already an early bird, I would not recommend that. Instead, set the alarm half an hour earlier than you usually do and spend those thirty minutes studying before the rest of your day start. Don’t be tempted to overstretch by setting the alarm an hour earlier. It takes time to change your body’s daily rythme. If you push yourself too much, you are more likely to give up.

2. Don’t waste your commute
Whether you’re walking, biking, driving or using public transport, make sure you utilize your time on the move to get ahead intellectually as well. Whichever aspect of your life you are trying to approve you are bound to find a podcast or audiobook on the subject. Set your own curriculum for the week each Sunday and dowload a few podcasts or audiobooks to listen to while commuting.

3. Feed your mind at lunch time
Take 15 minutes out of your lunch time to feed your mind as well as your body. You could watch a short TED-talk on your chosen subject while eating at your desk. Or if you need a proper break from the work space, take your lunch and a book to the nearest park and try to get through a chapter before going back to work. If your work consists of mundane tasks, you might find that your brain is processing the information you’ve study during lunch, making the rest of your day at work a little more interesting.

4. Excerise yourself smarter
Michael Hyatt, the CEO turned blogger, has written and talked about how he’s an avid reader, and yet he might not open an actual book for months. Instead he’ll get most of his reading done while running.
I am no runner, but I discovered podcasts and developed a love of walking at the same time. I realized that the only way I would get to listen to the podcasts I wanted, would be to carve out some time outside the house. And so I took up walking, and pretty soon I was taking 45 minutes walks at least five days a week. I’ve become healthier and more informed at the same time.

5. Call it me-time
If you find it hard to open that book you know you ought to read or get through that course you have signed up for, you might need to make a shift in your attitude. Reframe your study time from being a chore to being me-time. Block out half an hour each day that is dedicated to you and your improvement. A good time for this would be after work and the daily chores but before you sit down in front of the telly or collaps in bed. Make your self a non-coffeinated drink, find a quiet corner and get those books out, open that online video course or start listening to that audio book. This is your time, this is how you are going to become the person you know you want to be.

Remember, it’s not enough to want it. You have to do it as well. And it is the small, daily disciplines that will get you to where you want to be. Now go study!

Small disciplines or minor mistakes

Small disciplines or minor mistakes

How satisfied are you with the life you lead today? Are there things you would like to see changed? Habits you could do without or maybe some you would like to introduce (hello, daily flossing!)? Or maybe you havea list of goals you never seem to get any closer to?

Most of use have some aspects of our lives we would like to improve upon. I know I do! And this blog is all about that, about moving towards the life you truly want to live, one step at a time, one small discipline at a time.

Small Disciplines got its name from a quote I once read by the late Jim Rohn:

The major accomplishments in life begins with the mastery of the small disciplines.

That seems easy enough, right? Just introduce a few small disciplines and you are on your way to success. And it really is that easy! If you choose to have an apple a day rather than a choclate bar a day, your health will be better for it. If you read for half an hour rather than watch The Bachelor on TV (OK, I admit it, I do both …) your mind will be better for it. It is that easy. But as Rohn warned us, it is also extremely difficult, because it is so easy not to do it.

Neither success nor failure occurs in a single cataclysmic event.

It is the small disciplines and the minor mistakes that shape our lives, one day at a time. Let’s make sure the small disciplines outweigh any minor mistakes we do.

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