How to Work On Two Things at Once

How to Work On Two Things at Once

Here’s how: you don’t!

Don’t work on two things at once. Just don’t.

Multitasking doesn’t work. It never has. It never will!

In fact, it’s been scientifically proven not to work.

But what if you have multiple projects that need to be completed or even multiple small businesses that you are running (rare, but possible)?

Well, there is a proven way to work on more than one project at a time…here is how I do it:

Working on Two Projects at Once

When I left my first software engineering job to join two startups, NEITHER could afford to bring me on full-time.

It’s a wild story about how I even ended up in that situation, but ultimately I had managed to get two independent contractor jobs at once – and they were paying more than my old salary combined.

So here I am working on two projects, but I needed a way to work on them evenly and without getting things bungled up.

I had committed to 40 hours of work, but it wasn’t an even split. Project 1 was paying me for 3 days of work and Project 2 was paying me for 2 days of work.

So I did just that…I split the projects up by the days of the week:

  • Project 1: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Project 2: Tuesday and Thursday

I worked this way for over a year, and it worked wonders!

For Project 1, I was able to help double their revenue and build out some much-needed software infrastructure and stability.

For Project 2, I was able to build out the platform that we envisioned, along with a robust API that allowed a 3rd party to build a mobile app powered by all of our data.

I was able to work on both contracts without any problems because I made it very clear when I was working on what project and when.

Of course, a bit of luck had to play with the division of labor that I was able to so cleanly get it to work in this time split.

But the results were clear to me.

Rather than trying to split up any one day on both projects, it was better to devote entire days (and thus bigger time blocks) to each project throughout the week.

In fact, over the course of that year, I accomplished more for each company than any full-time worker would have for each of them – all while working two jobs at once!

Finding Time for Deep Work

Even though I was working fewer hours on each project, I was able to bring my focused attention to each project.

While multitasking is bad, working on these projects day by day was not.

By splitting my work into days and not hours, I was able to achieve what Cal Newport calls Deep Work:

Deep work helps you produce at an elite level

– Cal Newport, Deep Work

You may hear the term Deep Work being tossed around from time to time, but the true meaning behind it is the ability to focus your attention on ONE thing at a time.

Deep Work means turning off your phone, your messenger, and any non-essentials so that you can focus your sole attention on the task at hand.

When you are able to create the proper time blocks to do this, plus limit your attention to only the work, you develop a flow that simply cannot be matched by most of today’s knowledge workers who are easily distracted by social media.

Deep Work at its core will increase your productivity more than you could ever imagine.

Working fewer hours more tightly focused actually increases productivity.

So even though I was working two different jobs in my 40 total hours, I was able to accomplish a tremendous amount for each.

And this eventually led me to be hired full-time by Project 1, the company that I then went on to eventually become CEO of…

Working on Two Things At Once (Continued…)

Even today, the benefits of my ability to work deeply continue.

I’ve been able to build Accidentally Retired, all while working on this project only one day a week.

I have also been able to take on an affiliate website, even while still enjoying the ability to hike, bike, lunch with friends, pick up my kids from school, coach soccer, etc.

The ultimate key is to divide each project up by day -> then focus like you’ve never focused before.

That’s it. It’s time to start thinking of work in terms of days and not hours!

But now I want to hear from you…how do you split your time between projects?

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