Michael Milone, Ph.D.
Educational Consultant, Research Psychologist, and Writer
Almost all high school or college students consider themselves to be expert multitaskers. They insist they can talk on the phone, type an assignment, read, and listen to television or radio at the same time. Well, they can do all of these things, but they aren't doing them well.
Not surprisingly, the things that will suffer the most are the most important ones—retaining what is read or writing something meaningful.
In college, multitasking has a place, but it is a lot smaller than you think. You may find multitasking useful for a short time each day for doing nonessential things. Walking back to the dorm, you might text a question to a friend or call to check in with your family.
Whenever you find yourself multitasking, you should ask yourself if what you are doing makes sense. Evaluating what you are doing is going to be one of the hardest things you do because, quite frankly, your brain might not be ready to do it. You are going to have to push yourself to the next level of thinking.
Of course, there are some situations in which multitasking falls into the “big stupid” category. You should never, ever, text while driving, not to mention it’s now illegal in some states. Likewise, you shouldn’t be e-mailing friends and checking out celebrity gossip on the Internet when you are pretending to take notes in class. You will not only fail to learn what the teacher is talking about, but if your misdemeanor is discovered by the teacher, your success in the class will be very uncertain.