I am writing this column at 1:55 in the morning, drinking a Hoegaarden, before I catch a 10am train to Boston for a 7pm gig. You can take the bus from NYC to Boston for $15, but I paid over $100 for the train (damn you, Amtrak!) because I get a lot done on trains and planes, and four hours on a train will be enough to submit the final chapter of a textbook from my hotel just before heading over to the venue.
For some reason, the train back to New York was even more expensive, so I’ll surely be doubly motivated to write enough to make sure I make a profit on my mode of transport. I also calculate ROI in foreign countries — not that I’m against just enjoying a vacation (see Bullish: How to Travel Like a Gentlewoman). But when alone, I monumentally enjoy sitting in a Swedish cafe, writing math problems and contemplating that my herring platter is being paid for tenfold while I am eating that very herring platter and scribbling away on a legal pad that may now be inadvertently imbued with aquavit and lingonberries.
Let’s talk about how to do everything you ought to be doing in this world, all of it at once.
I’m not talking about multitasking. People always object when told this, but multitasking is a myth. Of course, nearly everyone thinks that she is the exception. Multitaskers feel that they are gliding on double rainbows of productivity and awesomeness, and yet, studies show that those people are incompetent! Multitasking people suffer a ten-point IQ drop, worse than that suffered by marijuana smokers.
While defenders of multitasking point out that you can multitask if the tasks are very, very different (i.e., thinking through problems in the shower), that’s not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about doing one thing at a time on an hour to hour basis, but allowing your life to grow bigger and richer and more deliciously complicated and rewarding than the lives of the people around you who simply neglect to stretch and leverage themselves. Maybe you really can be a ballerina/firefighter. Maybe you can make $100K at your job, and then one day just casually mention that your side business makes another $100K. Wouldn’t that be sweet?