Using the Wheel of Life Exercise & “Good” Multitasking to Create a Balanced, Happy Life
(This video is an excerpt from the Udemy course “Become a Speed Demon: Automation & Efficiency to Have More Time. For an 85% off coupon for this course, click here).
As you may have heard, multitasking is the devil and is turning your brain to mush. It's an extremely effective way to do a lot of tasks ineffectively and with piss poor quality. But, while 80% of multitasking is honestly pretty awful, there is, as always, that 20% that is actually quite useful. To explain what I mean, I have to go on a bit of a tangent, though.
Keeping things in perspective – and balance
Early on in my career, I was exposed to an idea called the “Wheel of Life” exercise. This is a circle with 8 sections to represent how satisfied or successful you feel you are with different aspects like Friends and Family, Personal Growth, Health, Finances, etc. Essentially, it's a self-check that allows you to visually map out what areas of your life you're satisfied with, and which areas need work. This is how I prevent myself from becoming the workaholic “crushing it” in his career, only to go home to an empty house and a mountain of health problems.
I've found that updating my Wheel of Life exercise every couple of weeks helps me achieve balance, and that balance drives a ton of happiness and life satisfaction. If things are going well, let them go well across the board. If things are going poorly, figure out which aspect of your life needs work – rather than putting in more time at the gym to try and compensate for professional or personal issues. You get the idea, and I could go on and on about just this one tool, but I've given you a link above to explore it on your own time. However, learning about the wheel of life introduced me to another idea – that you can actually accomplish 2 goals at once by doing mutually productive activities.
Using this mentality to be more effective overall
The idea here is to never do anything that doesn’t improve your progress on at least 2 sections of the wheel of life.
This is a bit confusing. It may seem too analytical, and it’s hard to explain theoretically, so let me give you some examples in my own personal life.
One of my goals, as I often mention, is to improve my Russian Language skills. Now, I could hire a tutor, sure, but that would only accomplish one goal. It would only improve one section of my “wheel of life” – personal growth. However, if I decide to travel to Russia and practice with native speakers there, as I’ve done twice this year, then it also improves my satisfaction in the “fun and adventure” category, while simultaneously improving my Russian skills. Even better, if I decide to visit my friends from business school while I’m in Russia, that makes 3 sections all being mutually fulfilled.
Never do anything that doesn't improve your progress in at least 2 important aspects of your life.
It gets better than that, actually, because some activities are even better if done in conjunction with one another. Here are a few examples:
- Learning to speak Russian in a higher stakes and highly engaging environment, with native speakers in Russia, is way more effective than learning from a textbook or tutor
- Traveling and new experiences cause my brain to secrete norepinephrine, a chemical linked with memory and learning
- Double-dates with friends or going to a museum and learning something new with your wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc will improve your relationship more than sitting on the couch and watching movies together
- Exercising while learning or reading actually improves your memory and brain function
- Listening to an interesting podcast or audiobook can keep you alert and engaged during long drives
So, you get the idea – if you want to be really productive and effective, you should try to nurture 2 aspects of the circle at once. But hey, even I get tired and lazy sometimes. I watch TV and silly movies on the couch by myself every so often. But I can make a choice, that if I’m going to relax, I need to do something productive. For example, I can stretch out my muscles, because one of my goals is to improve my flexibility. I can watch the movie in Spanish or Hebrew, languages that I want to improve. The point is that you can always find ways to make even your “down time” productive in some way shape or form, in ways that are not exhausting or emotionally draining at all.
So try it out and see how you can “link up” activities that are mutually productive or made better by the combination. Go for a run with a good friend instead of just you and the dog. Try reading while you’re on the exercise bike. In short, figure out little ways that you can use the “good” kind of multitasking to your benefit and make the most of your time.
How has being conscious of what areas of your life need attention helped you reach more satisfaction? What kind of “good” multitasking have you found productive?