According to the experts you can’t truly multitask. You wouldn’t know that if you looked at my Google calendar. Especially in the before-times, I would regularly have multiple events in the same hour slot.
The thing is, I wasn’t truly multitasking, I was just optimizing my time. This is a freelancer’s super-power.
Much of my regular morning/early afternoon work was accompanying voice lessons. The teachers typically take the first part of the lesson to chat with and warm up the students before they call me into the lesson. Rather than let that time at the top of the hour when I’m sitting in the hallway go to waste, I had 3 go-to activities: score study (saves so much physical practice time!), email checking, or reading. I invested in a Bluetooth keyboard that will connect to both my iPad and my phone so I can answer email efficiently (typing is faster than swyping) even in the hallway, and I always have something with me to read (not pleasure reading, although I try to do as much of that as I can, but professional magazines, newspapers, etc.). In a particularly time-crunched week, I have even used the on screen piano keyboard in forScore to practice singing in the hallway! One of those voice students is sick and had to cancel last minute or they didn’t show up at all? Bonus practice time!
As instrumentalists would schedule rehearsals later in the semester, I would always schedule them for a full hour, even if I didn’t think they would need a full hour rehearsal. If we were able to finish early, then I just got some bonus practice time!
Even now, during the pandemic, I regularly multi-task. Particularly now that it’s cold, I jump rope in my basement instead of running outside; bonus – this means that I can watch TV while I run! I also watch TV while I clean. I generally do not watch TV when I’m not doing something else, so it makes these activities more enjoyable!
I am one of the many allergy sufferers in the Ohio Valley; after getting allergy shots you are supposed to wait at the doctor’s office for 30 minutes to make sure you don’t have a systemic reaction…that’s email checking time!
And now that so many emails have video components to them, I will frequently get more bang for my buck by playing emailed videos on my phone or listening to a webinar on my phone while I’m checking other emails on my computer.
When we used to have long car drives, whether to visit family or on vacation, I always had something to read or email to check. (With so many plans for how/when to deal with email, you would think I would be better at keeping up with it…alas, especially since the pandemic, it just floods into my inbox and I refuse to let it take over my life.)
One last example, I typically practice languages with the Duolingo app (I rotate through Spanish, French, German, and Russian) while I eat lunch, or while I’m waiting for one of my own students who might be running late.
If you use your productive hours as optimally as possible, it is that much sweeter when you get to relax and enjoy your down time.