1. Phone Time
When you’re on the phone, nobody can see you (except maybe through the windows of your office). Because you don’t have to be making eye contact with somebody, you can do simple exercises. This is not a time to do anything that requires brainpower: you want to devote your entire attention to the phone conversation. However, you can do automatic activities. You might not even want to count your repetitions.
I have improved my health by doing minor exercises and stretching while I’m on a conference call, I can easily stretch or do light repetitive weights.
Another thing that I sometimes do on the phone is simple organizational tasks. If my desk is cluttered before a phone call, or if I have a drawer that is cluttered, I will use the phone call time to clear out that drawer. As long as you are doing simple tasks that don’t detract from your conversation, using phone time can be key.
2. Car Time
What can you do while you’re in the car? While I’m in the car, I listen to audiobooks. Even though I live fairly close to work, I find that in a ten minute drive each way I can get through a lot of audio material. I also have an Apple™ Ipod, so that I can listen to audio material while I’m flying. Frequently, there is time that I can cover audio material when I wouldn’t be able to cover anything else, because I am doing something else concurrently.
While you’re driving, it’s important to drive safely. If you are going to talk on a cell phone while you drive, use a hands-free set. You can also use a Dictaphone while you drive: this is another great time saver that allows you to remember and organize your thoughts. While dictating, remember to use bullet points while you talk aloud: just because you are speaking it, doesn’t mean it has to be a complete sentence.
3. Workout Time
While you’re exercising, you can often read depending on what kind of exercise you are doing. You can listen to audio material while exercising. I find that listening to audiobooks while I exercise is a valuable tool because I am often distracted and so do not focus on how much longer I have in each run, or how many more sets I have to do.
Another way to optimize your workout time is to spend your exercise time with a friend, so you will be able to catch up while both maintaining a level of fitness. Having a workout friend will not only allow you to stay in touch easily, it will also motivate you to workout at a higher level.
4. Television Time
While you’re watching TV, you can use your extra time to stretch or exercise. The perfect place for an exercycle or treadmill is in front of the TV. How fit would you be if you never watched TV without exercising. You can even read light material that you need to get through but might not require your complete attention.
You can also use your television time for doing chores around the house. If you need to husk corn or snap peas for dinner, you can do that easily in front of the TV. You can also dust one area of the house while watching a show. Other tasks, such as giftwrapping or filing can be done in front of the TV if you have your set up properly done.
5. Wait Times
It is best to always be prepared for wait times. Even if you only have two or three minutes to wait, why not spend that time reading a book or magazine? You’d be surprised at the number of tasks you can accomplish in three or four minute bursts.
The key to multitasking is to choose your times wisely. You want to get each task done well, and so you should avoid multitasking if it will lower the quality of your work. Find out what works best for you: experiment with your time use. You will eventually find a system that improves your time use, and gives you more time for the things you want to do.
Jim Estill is the CEO of Synnex Canada.
To learn more about his successful business strategies, visit his blog at http://www.jimestill.com.
Jim Estill's CEO blog also has information on ordering his audiobook and ebook, Time Leadership.