Do you multitask while studying?

You probably know that multitasking and productivity don’t mix. Multitasking and studying don’t mix, either.

Do you check emails or Facebook, listen to music, talk on the phone, text, tweet, watch TV and/or web surf while you study or attend a lecture or presentation? Studies show that attending to streams of information and entertainment reduces your ability to learn, understand and remember (as well as your productivity).  Multitasking also prevents you from making the all-important transfer of what you’re (supposed to be) learning to your own situation and other ‘real life’ contexts. It also slows you down and lowers your grades; studying or writing that essay takes longer and is more tiring when you scatter your mental resources, and you make more mistakes.

The remedy is self discipline and focus. When you’re studying or listening, concentrate – just on that. Your brain simply can’t attend to more than one complex task at a time.

Try putting in some serious, uninterrupted study time, say 15 minutes or half an hour, and then reward yourself with a 15-minute ‘tech break’. If you’re a compulsive technoholic, gradually increase the length of uninterrupted study time, slowly working up to an effective 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll learn more, put it to better use, and improve your grades and your future all at the same time.

Discussion questions

Are you guilty of multitasking while studying? What can you do to wean your brain off the need for a constant stream of disruptive input?