Bullish: How To Do Many Different Things At Once

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?

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    • Futuralon

      Mm interesting. It all comes together well for you because you have low or no overhead. You just need to show up at places and perform. My partner and I have an auto shop and fabricate certain metal car accessories. I keep trying to get into metal furniture design, because we already have a shop with equipment. We’d need a welder (person) and probably more floor space (if we go into furniture- it’s big) but yes, that is an incremental increase compared to expected revenue. Does this mean I can convince my partner?

      • Jen Dziura

        That is definitely a more complex situation than is addressed here. I do try to write on topics that are applicable to both regular-job-havers and freelancers, but, at some point, I’m going to have to say that I don’t know a whole lot about the economics of metalworking. I do wonder what other things are part of your business that this idea applies to, though — for instance, perhaps you have some kind of website / phone system / marketing system in place that is easy to replicate for a new product line.

    • Taylor

      This column never ceases to amaze me.

      • Jen Dziura

        Thank you!

    • SpringChicken

      As a fiction writer/ blogger/ publicist/ technical writer- I love this. My big question is when do we get see some photos from the body building phase?

      • Jen Dziura

        Ha. Well … here you go. I was young and shouldn’t have been left alone with that much bronzer:


    • Jen Dziura

      p.s. I wasn’t responsible for the t-shirt! I have no idea where the money goes! I think the Gloss staffers are using their ballerina-firefighter lucre to buy vodka and weird strappy purses that I don’t understand.

    • sashagold

      the tshirt link is broken!