Double-Dipping for Productivity
When it comes to chips and dip, double-dipping is gross. But I’m no George Costanza, so my idea of double-dipping is a time management trick that moves you toward two goals simultaneously. Here are 10 simple ways to get twice as much done in the same amount of time.
Hack #1: Combine Big Picture Goals
Let’s begin with the premise that you know what your goals are. If you don’t have a clear path in mind, I recommend Jack Heimbigner’s articles on Chasing your Dreams and Goal-Setting in the Post-Grad Survival Guide. It helps to have those goals written down, or at least clearly defined in your head.
If your goals are aligned with your values, skills, and interests, there may be some obvious overlap in what you need to do to get where you want to be.
For example, let's imagine that Joe is an 18-year old graduating from high school. He has pretty simple goals. 1) He wants to get laid, and 2) he wants to move out of your parents’ house. Notice that he is more likely to attain goal #1 if he first attains goal #2.
Joe decides that the easiest way to get out of Mom and Dad’s house quickly is to let them pay for room and board at college. Going to college, in turn, is a great way to meet potential sexual partners. Win-win on that one.
That was too easy. Let's go for an example that's a little deeper.
Let's say that Joe has a best friend, Ken. Ken thinks he wants to be a vet. He loves to spend time with animals, but his chosen college doesn't allow pets in student housing. Ken decides to volunteer at the local animal shelter. Doing that will fulfill his college's community service requirement, let him enjoy the animals, and help him meet and talk with vets about their work.
Hack #2: Gain brownie points at work and improve your life
Consider your work. What goal do you have for your life that might be in the best interests of your employer? Would a different schedule give you more time with your kids in the morning while covering a hard-to-fill dinner shift at your workplace? Are you interested in learning a new skill that might advance your career and a hobby simultaneously?
Hack #3: Repurpose parts of your work
Have you noticed that online entrepreneurs become knowledgeable about a particular thing and then write, podcast, teach, and/or make videos about that topic? If you make your work modular, you can re-use pieces in all of those venues. If the thing you choose to share is something you love to do (picture those people who make gameplay walkthroughs), then you have exploded the concept further.
For university faculty members, one of the requirements for promotion is to do research and write and present on that research. My strategy was always to use something I was doing every day at work as the fodder for my research projects. I would write at least one article and a few conference presentations on every topic, each with a slightly different spin. I got an extra boost when I was in graduate school while working at the university. I found a way to turn every class project into something useful for my job. I would often use my work to gather data for class, and anytime a paper was required, I would work a little harder on it, get feedback on it from the professor, and then edit it and submit it for publication and meeting presentations.
Consider these opportunities for using your work expertise to meet another purpose:
Volunteer to help individuals, your church, or non-profit organizations
Create a side job to increase income or name recognition based on your expertise--writing, teaching, consulting, etc.
Volunteer to use your expertise in another country, to fulfill a travel goal and help people.
Use business connections to fundraise or advocate for causes you care about.
Hack #4: Reinforce learning through two channels
If you are a student, you can gain depth and save study time by taking related classes simultaneously. One semester, I took 19th Century Brit Lit and 19th Century Art History. The combination made it much easier to learn the history and themes of the period because I had both literature and art examples to help me remember, and twice the lectures to help explain what was important. It's also possible to research one topic and use that research for papers in both classes. Just make sure you don't turn in the same paper for both classes; that is considered plagiarism.
Outside of the classroom, the idea is to reinforce learning about something you are interested in while addressing another goal. Consider these options:
Study Spanish and take a trip to Mexico (Bonus points if you can use Spanish at work and one of your goals is international travel).
Read a book and have a family movie night watching a movie about the same topic.
Cook meals for your family and post them in a cooking blog.
Learn about a subject and teach it to your children.
Make friends at professional development sessions and maintain contact with that network to continue growing in the field.
Hack #5: Do something you should do at home and strengthen your family relationships
Double-dipping can give you the motivation to do a thing you want to be completed but really hate to do. I hate vacuuming. Now and then, I like to see my navy blue carpet without white dog hair on it. My husband wants to see the carpet even more than I do. I love my husband and aim for marital harmony. That’s the only motivation I can muster that might actually make me vacuum.
Hack #6: Every time you enter a room, take two seconds to clean something
Getting a snack from the refrigerator? Throw away that outdated crusty bottle of ketchup while you are in there. Going into the kid's room to check on them? Pick up dirty clothes from the floor and put them in the laundry basket. Doing your morning ablutions in the bathroom, swish and swipe the toilet before you leave the room.
Double-dipping tasks like this is something that Tidy people do without even thinking about it. Messies have to work at it a bit harder to remember.
Hack #7: Combine exercise with another necessary task
Brushing your teeth? Do squats and brush for a full two minutes.
Cleaning house? Play your favorite music and dance while you mop.
Walk the dog. And yourself.
Play with your kids, and run around the yard.
Walk or bike as transportation whenever possible.
Hack #8: Multipurpose meals
One final example anyone can apply at home — multi-purpose meals. My mom was an expert at this. Cook a roast on Sunday; send Dad to work with a roast beef & horseradish sandwich on Monday; use the leftover veggies and pan goo to make broth and soup for Tuesday; use broth and roast for beef stroganoff on Wednesday; finally, grind the last of the meat for roast beef salad sandwiches. It was an incredibly frugal and surprisingly not boring way to eat. She also froze leftovers to have more variety in weeks when a single roast or chicken wouldn’t stretch far enough.
Productivity isn’t about getting more done. It is about choosing what you really want to do, dumping what you don’t want or need to do, and being as efficient as possible with what you have to do. Double-dipping is primarily about efficiency, but it can be about joy. Doing something that really gives you joy while advancing a more mundane goal is always the top priority.