7 ways to kill 2 birds with 1 stone

by Lindsay, School of Public Health

Disclaimer: If you read the blog’s title and were hoping to read about strategies for killing birds, you will be disappointed. But if you are looking for some creative ways to multitask and make more of your time, then I’ve got some ideas for you!

Image adapted from Microsoft Image Galleries

Image adapted from Microsoft Image Galleries

1. Call your mom (or other family member to which you are obligated to call every now and then) while boiling water or heating up your dinner. For me, the average time it takes for water to boil (5-10 minutes) is conveniently the perfect length of time to talk to my mother. But it gets better. You have a great–and honest–excuse to cut the call short: sorry, mom, the water’s boiling, gotta put in the pasta!

2. Learn a second language while you walk, run, bike, or “elipt” at the gym. I always get super bored while doing cardio. I’ll be listening to music, reading a magazine, occasionally watching tv, texting, and it still won’t be enough to distract me from the fact that my legs hurt. But when you are focusing all your brain power on learning a new language, it’s really easy to forget you are working out, not to mention knowing a second language is a very marketable skill. There are plenty of free language Podcasts and other engaging lectures on iTunes, so check them out!

3. Run errands with your friends. Are you that person who will go for weeks without seeing some of your friends just because “things keep coming up?” If things actually do keep coming up (and you are not just mad at them for ditching you that one time), try running errands with your friends.  Not only will you get your stuff done, but you will be able to get that quality bonding time that you keep putting off. Who knows, maybe seeing that cute cashier at CVS from freshman year will send you and your friend on a trip down memory lane…or at least down the candy aisle.

4. Do your homework AND your laundry. Those 20 and 30 minute laundry cycles can be tricky–not enough time to watch a whole episode of Breaking Bad, but too long to just sit there and stare at your clothes tumbling around. Tackle shorter homework assignments or project tasks during those laundry cycles. If you’ve got lots of loads to do, unloading/loading laundry between cycles can give you the short mental break you need before getting back to work.

5. Dance while you clean. Need to clean your room or do your dishes? Don’t have time to work out? Dance it out while you clean it up! If you want to add some vocals to your dance party, your broom will make a great mic.  One fair warning: make sure your blinds are shut so your neighbors don’t judge you won’t have to be jealous of how much fun you’re having.

6. Stretch while you read. Stretching can not only alleviate physical and mental stress, but it also can improve your range of motion and balance, which can help you avoid falls and injuries. Or think of it this way: when you inevitably slip and fall on the icy sidewalk this winter, you’ll impress everyone will how gracefully you fall into a perfect split! Yeah, right. For easy stretches to do while you’re at your desk, check out this video.

7. Check your email when your professor pauses during class. Psych! This is generally a bad idea, especially if you are trying to learn. Studies have shown that multitasking on cognitive tasks (e.g. writing an email and trying to listen to a lecture) can actually be counter-productive. That is, our brains can only really do one thing well at a given time. So, when tackling a multitude of cognitively challenging tasks, you’re probably best trying to kill one bird with one stone.


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