"I've done stuff, and things you've never heard of" - Ian McCulloch
In a restless urge to push the boundaries of both scientific knowledge and human experience, I have recently (as of April '00) completed an extensive and thorough subjective investigation of human multi-tasking. The subject is much neglected with some claims even being made that humans in general (and men in specific) are not capable of multi-tasking. (Comical American ex-president Gerald Ford in particular was reputed to have no multi-tasking ability). Extensive tests show that this researcher for one can walk and chew gum while also smoking a cigarette, singing and listening to a walkman.
A number of potential multi-tasking opportunities occur in the kitchen. In fact, famously, "a watched pot never boils" therefore you might well wish to take a shower or write a novella while it is boiling. Experience has shown that this works best if the pot being boiled contains something which will smell bad when it begins to burn. (For example pasta sauce). If you ensure that your secondary actvity (what you are doing while the pot boils) is in a room which is near enough to smell this then you will have a nasal warning when your unwatched pot has completed its boiling process and moved on to the less desirable burning and catching fire stage. An important caveat here is that if you're combining boiling a pot with taking a shower then shower with the door open so you can smell any combustion and use extreme caution when exiting the shower to extinguish the burning pot. A mistake at the "naked and sopping wet and fighting small everyday household fire" stage could radically alter your perspective on life and lead to pain in the short term and embitterment and feelings of loss in the long term.
More cautious experimenters might care to try combining washing up with other activities, for example, washing up while reading a book or eating. This sounds difficult but actually, most people are capable of washing up with just one hand while using the other hand to read or eat. It is vitally important that you do not confuse the washing up hand with the eating/reading hand. To do so could impair your enjoyment of the book/foodstuff greatly. If, like me, you strongly favour one hand (I'm very right handed and can't use my left hand for any delecate work) then I would recommend using the favoured hand for the washing up since holding a book is actually pretty easy whereas washing a knife covered in soap using only one hand is not. If you want to take a more "hands off" approach to washing up then you can simply fill a bowl with water and leave it until you've forgotten about it. This doesn't get things much cleaner but does give you the satisfaction of having all that washing up out of the way under the water where it isn't cluttering your kitchen. If you do use these washing up tips then I would advise a secondary precautionary wash (or at least rub with tea towel) before giving any washed items to guests who you like (with guests you don't like simply conceal poor washing-up with items of food or liquid).
It is not recommended that you attempt any kind of attention occupying multi-tasking while chopping vegetables or pouring boiling water.
Many many activities can be multi-tasked with bathing - for example, eating and reading - even eating and reading simultaneously can be done while bathing quite successfully. Writing is more difficult and, until the design of the floating lap top, computing is quite out of the question. Certainly I can vouch for eating and reading in the bath as pleasurable experiences. If you memorise your face then you don't need a mirror to shave and, like me, you can shave while bathing - this is helped by having a goatee beard and helped even further by not caring much about missing the odd bit (or occasionally carving a bit off my face and bleeding copiously).
You can save a lot of the time in the shower and many other bathroom related tasks can be easily performed in the shower with only minor side effects. Shaving is obvious. If you don't mind spitting on your own feet (I don't) then toothbrushing is also fine. To really save time, you can shave and brush your teeth while your conditioner takes. Reading while in the shower is inadvisable but surprisingly, eating in the shower is perfectly fine. In a ground breaking experiment, I ate a bagel while boiling spaghetti and showering. This worked out surprisingly well. In fact by gripping the bagel between my teeth at appropriate moments I was able to shampoo while eating. The bagel was slightly damper than I would normally like but, as with many things in life, lowered expectations are your friend - as I expected the bagel to be soggy and unpleasant, finding it merely to be damp was a pleasant surprise. (The spaghetti was, however, slightly overcooked for my taste.)
Finally, and most delecately, use of the toilet can be efficiently multi-tasked. Most people choose to combine seated use of the toilet with reading (and, indeed, I am a voracious reader in this circumstance, even resorting to reading the back of shampoo bottles in the absence of other reading materials). However, the zealous multi-tasker can also eat, brush teeth and hair and remove or insert contact lenses. Brushing teeth can be difficult if the sink to spit into is distant and often the multi-tasker is placed in the difficult situation of either swallowing or holding a mouthful of toothpaste for a stressfully long time. While using the toilet standing the multi-tasking is more difficult. Indeed the time saved is so minimal that it is not really worth trying this multi-tasking. Toothbrushing is possible but unfortunate resonance effects make this only worthwhile for the devoted multi-tasker as it is a difficult skill to master. On a side note, for men interested in personal efficiency, the most efficient standing toilet sequence is to unzip while walking towards the bathroom, enter bathroom, move to bowl, begin to urinate, flush, finish urinating, wash hands, leave bathroom, zip up. Flushing as urinating begins to ends can shave fractions of a second as can zipping/unzipping on the otherwise wasted walk to/from the bathroom (unless your bathroom is large there will not be time in the walk from the bathroom door to the toilet). This may seem extreme but, assuming that one can save a half a second every urination, over the course of a life-time, one could potentially save nearly seven hours (assuming someone urinating efficiently twice a day for 70 years) which could be used for other tasks (such as writing web pages). It is, however, not recommended to use this method when visiting, unless you know the people you are visiting very well indeed.
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