Two-fers can screw you real bad… sometimes

Several years back, I heard listening to Zig Ziglar explaining the concept of “twofers” in one of his motivational CDs (yeah, I was a motivational junkie once, not anymore thankfully!) If you are familiar with the word, great! Or this will be your first time.

If it is, let me explain — a twofer is essentially multitasking done consciously. For example, you can watch a video course or a podcast interview (audio or a video version of it) and get through like a 100 kettlebell swings. An alternative or highly relevant example would be watching match highlights (of whatever sport you’re into) and checking your emails (personal) or social media feeds. Can you sense what’s happening here? You just saved hours by bunching a couple of passive activities together.

I recently completed all seven seasons of The Game of Thrones (yeah, I was kind of late into the bandwagon). It was fun and highly rewarding for me, productivity-wise. Not only did I get a solid excuse to wind my day down but also catch up with all my personal emails (most of which don’t require a response, if they do, I schedule a time to respond to them the next day), social feeds and other random stuff that I have in mind. If you’re worried about me missing out on something important, let me assure you, I am not.

But here’s where twofers can screw you real bad. When you’re bunching two major tasks together. Like what I did today — instead of going off the grid to focus on my packing (I’ll be on the road for the next couple of weeks), I remained online to respond to emails and even fielding a boatload of quick questions and got-a-minutes. I didn’t have to because I was technically on leave but I guess that overachiever in me thought I could do it all! I juggled all that with packing my stuff, laundry and even ordering food for the family! Oh yeah, I also though dropping off a packet at the office (since I’m on the road and on the way) would be a good idea.

It wasn’t. I narrowly missed my flight. Almost lost my carryon luggage, the checked in luggage and later on my backpack (which has my laptop, kindle, books and other essential gadgets) and my even wallet! It’s a long story I probably will live to tell in one of my keynotes or perhaps a video (when I finally come around to making them and sharing it here). But I learned a

The crux is simply this — what works in one situation doesn’t really work in another. Particularly, if you’re not using common sense. Twofers or any variant of multi-tasking is best reserved for activities that don’t require much brainpower. And just because you get good at these (mindless, literally) activities doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at the ones in which you have to use your head.

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