If a researcher asked you to identify your favorite place to study, what would you say? Does that environment pose any distractions? How can we become more productive with our time and energy?
If a researcher walked up to you right now and asked you to identify your favorite place to study, what would your immediate response be? Would it be your home – perhaps your sunny kitchen? Maybe your dorm room or bedroom – a relaxed space you can call your own? Maybe it would be a busy café in the heart of town or a remote log cabin, if you have access to one. What are your preferences for your physical surroundings when you study? What are the attributes of your most conducive study environment?
In the following video, Mark Montgomery, an educational consultant and college admissions expert, reminds students that while their image of college may be much about socializing, they will ideally spend a good portion of their time studying. He shows some accommodating physical spaces at Seattle University.
College administrators, like the one in the video you just watched, may have their own ideas about what constitutes good study space. But what do students say? Below are comments from several students about their favorite “go-to” study spots:
It is not surprising to find that there are some recurring student favorites when it comes to good study environments. The following locations are all-time winners:
“Multitasking” – doing several things at the same time – has become a common word for describing what many of us do every day in the modern world. Our busy lifestyles and our ever-present devices suggest that many of us have become multitasking experts.
But is multitasking real? Is it possible to do several things at the same time? Can we actually check Facebook, watch television, read a textbook, and write a paper at roughly the same time . . . productively?
Evidence suggests that multitasking is not, in fact, possible. Psychology research shows that we can attend to only one cognitive task at a time. What we call multitasking is actually just switching back and forth between tasks quickly. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but we lose time with each switch. The loss may only be one-tenth of a second, but the time adds up. Think about your own experience.
Researchers have found that multitasking increases production of the stress hormone, cortisol, and the fight-or-flight hormone, adrenaline. These hormone-level increases can cause the brain to literally overheat, which leads to foggy mental processing. So multitasking while studying for a final exam might not be a good idea.
Multitasking also taxes the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that integrates information. Your capacity for problem-solving decreases with the number of tasks you try to perform at the same time.
The perceived need to multitask is driven largely by the technology takeover of recent years. Smartphones, email, social networking, Instagram, Twitter . . . all make multitasking seem both necessary and possible. They all require switching in and out of a line of thinking. With these technologies, we face constant information overload and distraction.
How can we become more productive with our time and energy, given our tendency to multitask? Consider these tips:
What are your thoughts on multitasking? How does it affect your productivity? The following video, from the University of British Columbia, features students talking about multitasking. Does it exist? Is it effective?
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