How To Multitask In 5 Second Increments

As you go through this article, take note of which multitasking is useful to you. There are too many for you to remember when you have only 5 seconds. Pick a few, make it a habit. I’ll share my personal choices for multitasking.

Admittedly I used chatGPT to answer this near impossible question: “How can I multitask during the 3 seconds it takes to turn on the shower?”

The questions asked

Chatgpt is great tool for mixing ideas, its bad at validating them. When using the tool, your job is to validate them. In this case, I wanted to generate time saving tip ideas that I could later review and present.

Given the amount of nonsense generated, there is no way I would post more than this one example

You: How can I multitask during the 3 seconds it takes to turn on the shower?

Chatgpt: There are a few things you can do during the 3 seconds it takes to turn on the shower:

Brush your teeth
Put on your shower shoes
Take off any jewelry or clothing that you won’t need in the shower
Organize your shower essentials (shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.)
Stretch or do a quick workout
Plan your day or make a to-do list
Take a deep breath and mentally prepare for the day ahead
Do a quick meditation or mindfulness exercise.

Time Saving Tips

I read that list and I find the stretch/quick workout, plan your day/todo list, breath, and mindfulness exercise most interesting. I could further ask chatgpt for quick workouts that only take 3 seconds and that can be done while turning on the shower. As someone with terrible posture, I already know what I can spend that time on.

I will spare you further chatgpt queries, but they are for every moment of the day, such as “How can I multitask during the 8 seconds it takes to get out of bed and walk to the shower?” and “How can I multitask when I am talking to my wife about her day?” Sometimes I’ll say things like “No, those answers are terrible because they involve moving and I’m lazy, can you give me 20 more ideas that don’t involve moving?”

Sub 10 second multitasking while physically busy

With only 10 seconds, you basically need to create a habit of doing these. You will not have time to think about them.

  • Repeat a positive quote: I liked the suggestion for taking a few seconds for mindfulness. You should decide your own. As an example, as someone that both wants to achieve and be efficient, I found a quote from Marcus Aurelius “No pointless actions” perfect for this.
  • Breathing exercises: Supposedly it works. I don’t practice it, but I’ve seen 9-20 second long exercises on the low end.
  • Review your goals for the day: This isn’t going through a todo list, this is reminding you of your 1-3 goals for the day.
  • Reviewing important information for an upcoming exam or meeting: Similar to the goals, sometimes I’ll remind myself “Don’t interrupt” or “Make sure you bring up X”. To be honest, I’m not sure this works, but it could just be my fumbling through meetings.
  • Concentrating on your posture and maintaining good alignment: Good reminder. Do it now too.
  • Practicing visualization techniques for high stakes activities or public speaking: One of my favorite authors swears by this, although I should mention I was a fan of this author’s first book.
  • Reviewing the steps to complete a task: Want to kill procrastination? Think about the first physical step that needs to happen. Work out the problem in your head first.
  • Reciting a prayer or spiritual text: Could you knock this out before sitting down at the dinner table or before getting into bed?
  • Saying numbers/letters/facts to your kids : GPT did not come up with this. I just do it. Maybe memorize the Periodic Table of Elements song too.

10 seconds to 5 minutes while physically busy

The 10s multitasking activities can be extended, but here are ones that you probably need more than 10 seconds to get a decent benefit from

  • Listening to (new) music, practicing singing or and tapping your feet to the beat.: Practicing beat changed my skill level with other instruments.
  • Podcasts/Audiobooks: Bonus points for nonfiction, but you do you. GPT also said ‘learn something new’. I’m combining that here.
  • Make a phone call: I highly recommend calling best friends, friends, acquaintances(maybe let them know you are going to call one of these days).
  • Self Reflection: Everyone has different reasons. I recently failed to be a good manager, I was able to run a half marathon without podcasts/audiobooks because I had so much to reflect on.

10 seconds to multitask while the brain is busy

  • Close your eyes and take three deep breaths: I’ll let you decide if this is worth doing. I don’t. I’m also flawed, so maybe this is a good idea.
  • Smile: Supposedly this makes you happier. I believe it.
  • Stretch/Fix posture/engage a muscle: This is redundant from above, but good enough to recommend twice.
  • Drink: Sip water/tea/caffeine drink/other liquids.
  • Look outside/at nature: Supposedly this can be relaxing and mood boosting
  • Clean: Clean your workspace or wherever you are at.
  • Eat a bite of a snack: Works best with things that are ready eat and doesnt need to be preserved. Fruits, peanuts,

10 seconds to 5 minutes while your brain is busy

  • Crochet/Knit: GPT didnt mention this, but I picked this up precisely to do something during work meetings. It was too easy to drift on the internet and not pay attention.
  • Do laundry, clean, or other chores: Hope you don’t need to unmute a meeting. Cooking can work if you know the recipe by heart. If I am talking to a rambler, I can usually clean my entire home including dishes and the kitchen. That usually takes more than 5 minutes.
  • Draw or Sketch: Not sure if you can learn things like depth and shading while thinking of something else. I found drawing/sketching quite valuable to portray my ideas.
  • Play an instrument: I don’t mean to learn new songs, but specifically techniques. For guitar players, the hardest barre chords and galloping. These are strength and finesse things
  • Stretch or light exercise: Anything beyond light exercise will make you pay attention less.
  • Give yourself a quick scalp or neck massage: Might improve your mood for no cost.

10 seconds to 5 minutes of waiting, hands and mind free

  • Answer email/messages: Duh! Now that I see this, I need to merely remember that when I’m waiting a minute
  • Read a book: I’m particularly fond of this one. Epub is my favorite format, followed by the Libby library app.
  • Write a thank you note: My wife writes these and people will call her in praise at how nice the thank you note was.
  • Plan your grocery list/next meal/snack: Research a new recipe or decide which recipe you want. You could check your kitchen inventory to see what is running low.
  • Nap: I thought a 5 minute nap was silly, but… the other day I’m pretty sure I fell asleep in less than a minute. I was tired. So… maybe this could work for you.
  • Declutter digital devices: Clean up pictures, organize notes, unsubscribe from emails, delete apps, etc..
  • Write in your journal: Supposedly writing in a journal makes you more productive, more accountable, and I can assume makes you more money as a result.
  • Knock out a short task you are procrastinating on: I like the idea of either breaking down the task into a manageable part during this time, or actually doing the first step. You can handle 10 seconds to 5 minutes of pain.
  • Meditate: No suggestions here, I have utterly failed to meditate every time I tried.

My Conclusions

These are not the best, this is my experience.

During 5 seconds of being physically busy, I review some sort of ‘next steps’ or ‘goals’. During 5 seconds of mentally busy, fix posture/stretch. With 5 minutes of being physically busy, podcasts/audiobooks, the time cost to turn it on is worth it for 5 minutes of knowledge. ~5 minutes of being mentally busy, cleaning or crocheting, the kitchen is a favorite mindless place to clean. 5 minutes when my hands and mind is free, I’ll read a book on my phone.

Wish you the best in implementation and being more efficient.