Multi-tasking for the Anti-Multitasker

One place I've found to multi-task this summer!

One place I've found to multi-task this summer!

I am really, really bad at multi-tasking.

Just ask my husband. If I'm following a recipe I haven't cooked before and we're having guests over, I have to do the bulk of the prep and initial cooking long before they arrive. Because once someone is in my kitchen who wants to have a conversation and I am double and triple checking my ingredients and steps in the cooking process (and heaven forbid halving the recipe), all while trying to be polite and inquisitive and coherent, I will be a frazzled mess. Even if John comes into the kitchen and there's music on and I'm in the final stages of dinner prep, it is difficult for my brain to share space and have anything more than a simple conversation: "Get a....a...." My brain searches for words--really, any will do!--and John stands by, puzzled: "A what?" 

Maybe this doesn't have so much to do with multi-tasking; maybe it's just that I'm a highly sensitive person (yup, that's a thing--check it out here [I score 26/27 on the test]) and lots of stimuli in my environment is unsettling. But I think struggling to multi-task and being highly sensitive go hand in hand. 

But I've found something that counts as multi-tasking that works really, really well for me: listening to podcasts while taking a walk, doing errands, or working out. Especially working out, because that 30 minutes on the treadmill has to go by faster.

Ever listened to a podcast? Up until a couple of years ago, I was only familiar with one called "Notes in Spanish," that I sometimes listened to in the car on the way to work. But this fall, I started listening to podcasts regularly, partly because I realized how many were out there, partly because a friend here was telling me about some of her favorite podcasts, and also because I tired of listening to music on my thirty-five minute walk to work. They're a great way to learn about any range of topics (health, history, education, pop culture, literature, Spanish) all while doing something else (driving to work, shopping in the grocery store, spending 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, biking in the park, doing the laundry, or cooking dinner). I love that I can be informed about something new, or hear a piece of fiction read to me by an author, all while I'm doing something else that doesn't require 100% of my attention and energy.

I've been sticking closely to just a few podcasts lately, but am open to branching out, so if you're reading this and you have some recommendations, please leave them in the comments section! 

What I'm listening to:

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast: Where authors read their favorite short pieces from the New Yorker and then discuss them with the fiction editor. I love hearing authors I already like and admire--putting their physical voice together with the voice I hear on paper is a cool experience. And this podcast also exposes me to new authors...because my "to read" list is not long enough...

TED Talks: All different kinds of people share their "ideas worth spreading." One of my favorites was "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" by Sir Ken Robinson. (And yes, yes they do.)

The Paleo Women Podcast: Noelle Tarr and Stefani Ruper discuss all things health-oriented (sprint workouts, body image, acne/skin care, and transitioning off of hormonal birth control being just a few of their topics of discussion), especially geared toward women. They're incredibly gracious, as well as hilarious, and I love listening to each and every one of their episodes.

The Wellness Couch Podcast and The Primal Shift Podcast: These two aren't related, but I've listened to a few episodes and have found them to be really helpful as I will most likely transition into a paleo diet post-Whole30 (which ends today, by the way: post forthcoming!). The fact that both have hosts with awesome Australian accents is a bonus.

Death, Sex, and Money with Anna Sale: This podcast talks about things that people might not normally talk about in the magazines or in regular conversation. From "Joy Williams' Public Breakup and Private Grief" (Williams being from The Civil Wars) to episodes like "A Funeral Director's Life After Burnout," "A Dirty Cop Comes Clean," and "In Sickness and in Mental Health," it covers a wide range of people and topics.

The Influence Podcast: Created by The Influence Network (which I'm really enjoying reading, by the way--thanks, Lindsay!), this podcast talks to people such as Emily P. Freeman (author), Asher Collie (founder of Sole Hope), and Lisa-Jo Baker (of (in)courage) about what it means to be a Christian woman who is pursuing her own projects and passions. I just registered for a class with The Influence Network on self-care, which I'm excited to dig into this week. I'm reminded that surrounding myself with encouraging, God-centered words is really life giving.

So the next time you're going on a long road trip, or maybe just to the grocery store, try finding a podcast that will make you think, inspire you to action, or teach you more about a passion you are cultivating in your life! And don't forget to tell me if you have some podcasts you enjoy in the comments below.