John posted an article about Multiple Positives which he defines as doing activities in a way that give you multiple benefits. This got me to thinking about ways that I’ve been able to stack things together in order to get the most benefit. In general, I consider multitasking to be a bad habit. However, there are times where “multibenefiting” is highly profitable. The difference is that with “multibenefiting” you are concentrating on a richer outcome. With multitasking the focus is just on doing things at the same time–even when the outcome is less productive.
Here are some examples:
1. Mowing the Yard with a Book
I hate mowing. To make things a little more bearable, I started listening to audio business books while pushing the mower around the yard. So when it came time to cut the grass, I was getting exercise, taking care of the yard and learning about businesses at the same time. This kept it enjoyable so I actually wanted to go mow to listen to the rest of my book.
2. Exercise with a Television Series
I like to exercise, but if I’m bored I won’t stick with it. A few years ago my wife bought me a ski machine (for $5 at a yard sale). I really like using it, but after about 15 minutes it is very difficult for me to stay focused. I’ve found a perfect solution. I like watching a few weekly shows, but since we don’t own a television I rarely see them when they are broadcast. I’ll get a set worth of shows on DVD and only watch them when I exercise.
This has worked pretty well for me. I don’t spend any time watching commercials and since most shows are designed to grab your attention for the next week, it is easy to come back to exercise the next day.
When a new television series comes out that looks interesting I automatically think “I’ll have to get that to exercise next year”.
3. Working for Education
Before I started my own company, I took jobs not based on how much they paid, but based on their educational opportunities. This led to leave a job for another that paid $30,000 less. The lower paying job provided more reimbursement and time off to pursue a second masters degree.
By looking for ways to maximize the benefits of my employment, I’ve been able to derive much more value than my coworkers. If a coworker and I both made $40,000 per year it may seem like we make the same amount. But if I took advantage of $10,000 per year toward college classes, weeks of time off for study and my degree will allow me to charge $145 per hour for my services in the future the total value I’m getting is much greater than my coworker. In this case I was getting the benefits of a job (a salary) along with the benefits of a free education.