Get More Done During Your Commute

commuter-on-bike-Peter BregmanBy now, we all know multitasking doesn’t work. Our brains are incapable of focusing on more than one thing at a time. We might think we’re multitasking as we scan our email while on a conference call, but we’re not. We’re actually switch-tasking—quickly shifting attention from one thing to another and then back again—diluting our focus and losing precious seconds each time we switch. Those seconds add up to many hours of wasted time every week.

So why do so many of us still try to multitask? We’re too busy with too much to do and too little time to do it in. The temptation to accomplish multiple things at the same time is practically irresistible. Even when we know it doesn’t work.

I was thinking about this temptation as I rode my bike to a meeting downtown, about five miles from my apartment in New York City. As I breathed hard and felt my heart beat, I suddenly realized that I had overcome the multitasking hurdle. I was simultaneously getting 30 minutes of exercise and commuting to my meeting.

In other words, you can multitask as long as you’re doing two things that don’t tax the same parts of your brain. Email while on a conference call? Bad idea. But exercise and commuting? It’s a perfect multitasking marriage.

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Peter Bregman

Peter Bregman

Peter Bregman helps CEOs and their leadership teams break down silos and tackle their most important priorities together. He teaches courageous leadership in an annual Leadership Week. He is the author, most recently, of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, a Wall Street Journal best seller, winner of the Gold Medal from the Axiom Business Book awards, named the best business book of the year on NPR, and selected by Publisher's Weekly and the New York Post as a top 10 business book. He is also the author of Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change and co-author of five other books. Featured on PBS, ABC and CNN, Peter is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, National Public Radio (NPR), Psychology Today, and CNN as well as a weekly commentator on Fox Business News. Get notified when he writes a new article.

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