Contrary to what your professors will tell you, multitasking is not impossible. In fact, for some of us unlucky souls, multitasking is the only way we ever get anything done. I’ll use myself as an example; like any anxiety-ridden perfectionist. I often get so consumed with perfecting the project at hand that I psych myself out of actually doing it. This goes for just about everything – cooking, laundry, homework, even walking the dog. The only one of these that’s really time-sensitive is homework, so somewhere in the middle of my freshman year, I figured out the perfect solution:
Do homework and watch Netflix at the same time.
How you might ask, is this possible when I don’t own a television? The miraculous phenomenon is known as split-screen. I put Microsoft Word on one side of the screen, Netflix on the other, and get down to business. I’ve written plenty of A-grade papers, and at least half a novel, in this fashion. It’s all about distracting one part of my brain – the part that’s hyper-focused on perfecting whatever I’m working on – so the other half can actually do the thing.
If my professors knew I did this, they’d be rolling in their future graves. Professors hate multitasking. They think it means that I don’t care about the thing I’m working on, and therefore don’t care about their subject, their class, or the hundreds of hours they spent studying to be considered qualified to teach me the thing.
The opposite is true. I care way too much about the thing. I care so much about the thing that my overwhelming fear of messing it up is preventing me from actually doing the thing. My goal with multitasking is to make myself care about the thing slightly less. If I can get even 5% invested in watching “The Great British Baking Show” for the fifth time, that’s 5% less perfectionism focused on the assignment that’s due tomorrow.
Basically, I think multitasking gets a bad rap, at least when it comes to me and my study habits. I can’t speak for the rest of you all, and I have to admit that this multitasking trick doesn’t work for me all the time. In the past I’ve logged myself out of Netflix, knowing I’d forget the password. I'd shut off my router just to be able to get through a particularly awful literary criticism paper. But most of the time I can be found studying on one side of my screen and watching something-or-other on the other side.
Multitasking can be good.
Multitasking can be healthy.
This spring quarter, if you’re a perfectionist like me, give multitasking a try.