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Mar 05 2017
by Elizabeth Robinson

How to Be a Better Multi-Tasker In College

By Elizabeth Robinson - Mar 05 2017
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You're in college, so you have a lot to do and not much time to do it. What's a good way to give yourself more time? Multitasking, of course! But proper multitasking is not about dividing your attention between several tasks — that's unproductive. Instead, you should focus on hitting two birds with one stone, or getting two things done in one time slot. 

1. Do homework, exercise or shower while waiting for your laundry.

You now live on your own, which means you have to keep house. Laundry may seem time-consuming, but the trick is to put your laundry in the wash and then go complete another task on your to-do list while you're waiting: a homework assignment that takes half an hour, a shower or a quick workout will do the trick. 

2. Eat meals during "play time."

"Play time" is the time you dedicate to relaxation: watching Netflix, reading, playing videogames and Skypeing with your S/O are some common ones. Whenever you can, eat your meals while you do these relaxation activities. This way, you can catch up on your favorite shows while knocking off the time you dedicate each day to meals. Still need time to prepare your own food? You can keep the videos going while you cook! Eat at the dining hall? No one will give you a weird look for face-timing your S/O while you eat or reading something on your phone. 

3. Watch videos while brushing your teeth.

Earlier in the year, my Watch Later list just kept piling up and I couldn't find the time to catch up... until I realized that I could watch videos on my phone while brushing my teeth, flossing and washing my face. 

4. Watch videos on the treadmill. 

Walking uphill can be your best friend when it comes to burning calories. Why sit in your room while watching Netflix when you could be slowly walking on an inclined treadmill while watching videos on your phone? You can also do this on an exercise bike or while lifting small hand weights. 

5. Volunteer while getting job experience.

It can be hard to get your first job if you have no experience, but volunteers are always welcome! Volunteering looks good on a graduate school resume, and volunteering in an area relevant to your future career looks great to future employers and can get you several relevant letters of recommendation. What kind of job do you think you'll be applying to? Find a volunteering opportunity that's relevant to that job. If you plan on going into academia, tutoring may be your best bet. Want to be a doctor? Volunteer at a hospital or blood-drive. Even if you're going into scientific research, many labs are always looking for someone to clean out test tubes.

6. Study by interweaving different subjects.

The more relevant you can make something to your life, the better you'll understand and remember it. You're likely taking several classes pertaining to your major right now, which means most of the material your learning is deeply interconnected. Try studying by drawing connections and noticing similarities between your classes, or between different topics in one class. This doesn't mean flipping back and forth between your biology notes and you chemistry notes, but rather internalizing both subjects by thinking about how the two relate on a higher level. 

7. Prepare for finals while studying for your next midterm.

Before every midterm, I create one to five "synthesis pages" which give an overview of the entire unit, along with a list of practice problems/paragraphs to read to give me a more detailed review of certain topics. Not only will writing these topics down help you internalize them, but when finals come around, you can simply review those synthesis pages instead of going over an entire year's worth of notes. 

8. Exchange tutoring with a friend.

Be careful with this one: do not get distracted and look at memes while you're with your friends. Instead, find a friend who's in your classes and exchange lessons with each other. I have a chemistry major friend who tutors me in chemistry while I tutor her in biology. If you want to study for a specific test, then take turns verbally summarizing key concepts with each other. Not only will hearing someone besides your professor explain the material (or saying it out loud to your friend) help you learn, but you're also socializing at the same time. 

9. Listen to songs to memorize material.

Sometimes even in college, you're stuck having to rote memorize material instead of looking at the big picture. Well, someone else in the past also had to do that, and they likely posted a song about it on Youtube. Listen to these songs while you exercise, shower or do math problems: you'll find that you begin to internalize the words before you even glance at the lyrics. I used to do this when we had to memorize songs in Chinese class: just listen to the song on repeat while doing other homework, and then it will be a lot easier to learn the song itself when you finally sit down to look at the lyrics. 

There may be no way to decrease the number of tasks you have to complete in college, but there's always a way to be more efficient doing those tasks. All it takes is deciding which activities you need to dedicate time to — chores, hanging out with friends, studying, exercise, eating — and then picking and choosing ways to pair those activities together. 

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Elizabeth Robinson - University of Texas at Austin

Elizabeth C. Robinson is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Dean's Honors Biology. During high school, she published two YA novels and obtained her third-degree blackbelt in Taekwondo after eight years of training. Elizabeth loves reading, writing, learning foreign languages, musicals, dogs, or watching far too much YouTube. Follow her on Twitter @MetokaPublishi1, Instagram BlackPage13, or visit her website, www.MetokaBooks.com!

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