Just google 'multi-tasking' and you'll be guided to a TON of articles on how to multi-task, and even more articles on why it's impossible to multi-task. You've heard the reasoning - you're either doing one thing well and the others poorly, or you're doing a crummy job at every task.
Well, I disagree. I think you can effectively multi-task, within limits. Here's how I do it:
1. Find passive tasks you can start and walk away from.
Starting a load of laundry takes less than a minute, then does it's own thing for 45 min-an hour. Switch it to the dryer (another minute) and leave it alone again for an hour or more. This is the perfect example of a passive task - you're getting laundry done while you're working on something else. Other passive tasks include loading and starting the dishwasher, putting cleaner in the toilet, starting bread in the bread machine - anything where you have to wait before the next step is perfect for this. I feel so accomplished at the end of the day when I've gotten the laundry and dishes done and made bread for my family and still worked a full day at my job.
2. Never go up or down the stairs empty handed.
This may seem like a small change - but the impact can be huge. Make your trips up and down more effective by taking something with you. There is ALWAYS something in our house that needs to go up or down, but if you're not in 'cleaning mode' it's easy to leave behind the shoes, clean laundry, dirty dishes, etc. Grab something when you're on your way up or down and those piles vanish.
3. Do 'mindless' tasks in conjunction with something that demands your brain.
What do I consider a mindless task or activity? Anything that your body can continue to do without little to no thought - running, walking the dogs, riding a bike, simple crochet, chopping veggies. These are all great opportunities to engage your mind in listening to a podcast, reading (or listening to) a book, having a conversation with a friend or partner, etc.
Did you notice that I didn't include advice how to multi-task on two or more things that require brain power? That's on purpose. I think it's easy to multi-task when it comes to certain activities - but if you're in a meeting and trying to also run some data analysis it's too hard to focus. I find I can use my body for one thing and mind for another, but never two in either category. I can't pour candles and workout at the same time, nor can I have a meaningful conversation with my husband and read a book at the same time.
The tips above are how I'm able to fit everything in - full time job, side business, mom-ing, wife-ing, and taking time for myself. Give it a shot and tell me how it goes.