A Student's Guide to Multitasking

7 December 2017

By Matthias de Heer - Multitasking is one of those fancy words that we hear nowadays in every professional surrounding. Being able to work on different activities and think about several projects at the same time is a necessary quality in (almost) every job description. We, as students, do not know better than to just multitask in our everyday lives. Next to focus on studying, we engage in several other activities within, for example, ACE, at university or in a side job to gain work related experience and to survive financially. Not to mention the time we want to spend to our social lives, hobby’s and of course SLEEP!

But are we really that good in multitasking? Since at some times, all those different activities suddenly run into each other and in stead of being able to get the most out of each task, our minds are dominated by deadline stress and are thereby constantly distracted. A deadline for a 2000 words assignment is coming up, you have to go to work in two hours and there is also that ACE drink you promised to go afterwards. Thinking about how to get all these things done in time, time itself slowly but surely passes and you decide to watch the remainder of an episode of that show that was recommended in Berdan’s Binge-Watch Corner. Since I think this is a recognizable situation for all of us students, here are three tips to prevent such situations!

1. One activity at a time

Is multitasking really the solution when you are involved in several activities? Although a lot of people think multitasking saves time, several studies show that it actually takes longer to get things done when you want to work on them simultaneously. Since our brains function best when they can focus on one instead of several activities, maybe it is better to not respond on that email from your boss while working on your study assignment and wait to respond once you are finished.  

2. Start and stop(!) on time

Okay, so we have decided to do one thing at a time. Still, we want to be involved in a lot of different projects and (social) activities because we like to develop ourselves to the max, and rightly so. Here is where time management comes in to play. Once you have decided which task today comes first and which second and third, set a start and stop time for yourself with each activity. Stopping on time is essential here, because when you work on one task for too long, required time is taken away from the other(s) which leads to previously described situations – and that means stress or/and a lack of sleep. 

3. Distraction vs. dedication

The last tip to keep in mind is to work with dedication. Log out on social media, shut down Netflix and put your phone away in order to not get distracted while you actually need to work. In this way you will get your work done in time and fun things like watching Netflix, checking social media and having a drink with your friends is not a distraction anymore but a well-deserved reward after an effective day of multitasking.  

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