Don’t multitask everything

Person typing on a laptop

By Sarah Kugelmas ’23

It’s tempting to try to get more than one thing done at the same time. However when you try to do that, your attention will be divided between both tasks. It might actually take you longer—and you may make more mistakes—than if you were to devote all your attention to a single task.

I often like to watch videos while I do my work, but this can be an issue because part of my attention is devoted to the video instead of my work. There are several ways to combat the urge to multitask; listed below are some things I suggest based on my experience.

Schedule your day

One way to combat the urge to multitask is to schedule your day; making sure to include time for work and time for breaks. For example, you can have class from 9:30 a.m. to 10:20 a.m., schedule an hour from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to watch TV, and then plan to do work from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. until your next class or lunch. This way, you can give your brain a break from classwork while devoting your full attention to your work when you plan to work.

Give yourself something to look forward to

Some people find that having a reward system for getting work done is helpful to encourage them to focus on what they need to get done so they can get that reward. These rewards can be snacks, Hershey’s kisses, time with friends, or anything else that you enjoy.

Change your environment

I have found that I feel a greater urge to multitask when there are distractions in my surrounding environment. When I am getting distracted from noises from construction or people in my residence hall, I notice that I am more likely to multitask. In this situation, it’s helpful to take a break and relocate to somewhere you can better focus, like a quiet study area in “the Tink” or Thwing Center. This way, you limit distractions you cannot control and can focus on what you need to get done.

When there is so much to do and only 24 hours in a day, it is tempting to try and get many things done at once. While you may think that you’re being more productive, you might actually be limiting the quality of your work and it may even take longer. There is only so much you can get done while splitting your focus between different tasks. Focus on one thing at a time so you can do your best work while still allowing yourself to take breaks and enjoy a reward.