What is Stacking?
Stacking is the idea of doing two, or more things at the same time. I've seen this most common amongst parents, wherein they will read, or work while putting their baby to sleep, for instance. In my personal life, this came up when I did not find time for cooking, or increasing my mobility for working out. Learning to do mobility exercises while brushing my teeth, or while my food is cooking, allowed me to push myself, and get more done.
How to Stack
Find a relatively low-level task in your day. Examples of a low-level task would be something that can be done while doing something else. Brushing your teeth, waiting for laundry to be completed. or waiting for something to be microwave/cooked. During these tasks, you can find a high-level task to couple with the low-level task. While brushing your teeth you can read. While waiting for laundry, you can work out. While waiting for something to be finished cooking you can get to those e-mails you wanted to send out. While putting your baby to sleep if you have one, you can go ahead and read.
Different Low Level Tasks
It is important to recognize, that there are two different types of low-level tasks.
- Long low-level task(30 minutes to 1.5 hours).
- Short low-level tasks(3 - 20 minutes)
Long Low-Level Tasks
This is something that the majority of us already do. Doing something while waiting for the oven to complete cooking, or laundry to finish. If you aren't doing this already, then go ahead and do it. You will find it relatively easy to implement.
Short Low-Level Tasks
This is a little bit more to discern whether, or not you are being productive doing something during this time. It requires analyzing specific tasks and choosing one singular thing to do during these times. As an example, here is what I do:
- Brushing teeth - Mobility Exercises
- Walking - Audio, for learning a new language
- In between sets at the gym - Reading
I will admit, finding time in between short low-level tasks is exhausting. Especially listening to audio while walking, and consistently reading at the gym in between sets. You sort of just have to motivate yourself and keep at it. You will find hours have been added to your week, and it's just worth it.
When Stacking is Innefficient
There are times wherein stacking is inefficient. For instance, getting someone to cook for you, depending on the circumstance can be incredibly useful. Feel free to check out another Lean Creativity article on Food: How to Get Ahead in Life, wherein we suggest getting someone else to cook for you if possible. Feel free to reference another chapter entitled Surplus - More is More, wherein we suggest to allow for a surplus to automate tasks. So, in an instance, like this, instead of walking around and shopping, ordering online, to allow for an autonomous solution would be ideal.
Modifying Low Level Tasks
Sometimes it's important to note, that a low level task perhaps could be modified to allow for better stacking. A personal favorite of mine, is to use a stationary bike for cardio. I can read faster than I can listen, and it's easier to pay attention to what I am reading while being stationary and biking. Just an important note to keep in mind while attempting to stack.