Focus don’t multitask!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 May 2018 12:21:16


By c s krishnamurthy

Our brains are grand and exciting organs, but they can’t handle all at once. To be effective, we need to direct our attention to just one task at a time. Distractions and multitasking are detrimental to learning and memory. Listening to music while studying and doing assignments in noisy environment are all familiar sight.When you toggle between tasks, the process often feels consistent, but actually, the distraction strains your brain as it requires a series of small switches. For instance, you stop doing your homework in order to check your messages. As you finally return to the “homework”, your brain has to refocus on the task, backtrack and fix errors, and this drains time, before you return into the concentration mode.

Studies have shown that the human mind isn’t meant to multitask, which can have long-term harmful effects on brain function. In our contemporary society, the perennial surge of information has the potential to cripple us. Our brains aren’t equipped to handle the sensory overload, thanks to Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter…. and it is the cognitive demands of conversation that causes the distraction. Our students have, particularly in this digital world, more and more things competing for their attention.
With access to so much entertainment and information, students are often left dividing their focus between more than one task – whether it’s checking social media while studying or trying to complete the assignment at once.

Most of the teens say that they often watch TV or use social media while doing homework. Since students aren’t giving their full attention to their school work, they may not be as effective at absorbing the information they are studying. Without complete comprehension, grades can start to slip.
Multitasking is weakness, not strengthWhen you focus on two tasks simultaneously, each side of the brain confronts a different task, and taking on more tasks increases the likelihood of errors. Also, the brains of those who multitask work less efficiently even when they’re not multitasking.
Even if you’re getting things done while multitasking, chances are you aren’t getting them done as well you could be. Using cell phones while driving is a common example. Even a hands-free device while driving can be detrimental.
Multitasking is converse to human psychology. We do best when we concentrate on one task at a time. It is also insulting to the work, because, multitasking indicates that task doesn’t deserve our total attention. Apart from ruining productivity, it obstructs creativity, which emanates from extended concentration.

How students can avoid multitasking Study in a quiet space: Create a quiet study space where you can work without distractions. Keep this space clutter-free. Use time wisely. Distracted studying can lead to poor understanding of the academic concepts. Rather than switching tasks from minute to minute, dedicate a 20-minute block of time to a single task, then switch to the next one. Put away anything that isn’t needed. Adhere to a study schedule: Create a homework schedule to complete assignments and plan study time. Mark each assignment a specific time and stick to using that time to that specific task. Use different colours for each task. Have a to-do-list so that you can check off a task when it’s completed.

Keep off electronic distractions: Maximise your computer windows to hide interruption. Turn off email-pop-ups. Keep cell phone on silent mode. Remove the distractions of social media and texts. Leave the mobile phone in another room until the study session or homework is done with. Don’t study in front of the TV. Studying while watching TV can quickly turn into wasted time. Schedule a dedicated “homework time”. Block irrelevant websites. If computer is not required to complete assignments, turn it off.Focus your attention on the task on hand, maximise your academic potential.(The author can be contacted at [email protected]) n