I don’t know about you, but it can sometimes be hard to just sit and read, or just cook, clean, or eat. It feels like it’s not enough to fully engage my attention and I get fidgety or bored. A hack I have discovered for this is to pair a physical task with an intellectual one. Good candidates for this are physical activities that are (relatively) mindless, like cooking, cleaning, walking, running on a treadmill, cycling, or knitting. Then pair it with something that is mentally engaging but not so much that it requires your full attention, like watching a TV show, listening to a podcast or audiobook, or, with certain pairings, reading. The most common example is listening to a podcast while working out, but other examples include:
Depending on your mindset and personality, this might cause you stress. If that is the case, definitely don’t do this. This is for the sort of people or the sorts of tasks where it makes the activity more enjoyable, either because you feel fully engaged instead of partially, or because you get the benefits of feeling more satisfied at the end of it. For example, generally speaking if I watch a trash TV show I feel a little gross and dissatisfied at the end of it. However, if I watch a trash TV show while cooking up a storm, I enjoy the process and the end result is a delicious healthy meal, so I get the moment-to-moment joy and the life satisfaction all combined in one.
Of course, if you’re not into knitting, by all means, don’t knit. Just think about the general pattern and think about what physical activities take little of your mental energy and pair it with a mental activity that doesn’t require your full attention. Therein lies awesomeness.
*If you want to have an audiobook of virtually any book you want, I recommend Balabolka, a free word to audio converter that is very simple to use.
I'm an effective altruist who co-founded Charity Science Health and Charity Entrepreneurship.