Combining Tasks

You will have many opportunities to combine tasks while at college, but you have to be selective about which tasks you combine. Writing a term paper while eating dinner will leave a mess on your keyboard or food all over your notes. However, catching up on your reading while you wait for your laundry to dry may be a very efficient use of your time. Multitasking is a common time management strategy among college students. The challenge is to find tasks that can be successfully combined.

One of the best opportunities to multitask is while doing your laundry. Laundry takes up a lot of your time and there is no way to avoid it. So, while your clothes are in the washer or dryer, do some reading, get ahead on an assignment, or review the notes you took in class that day. If you are already caught up on your studies or the noise of the machines distracts you, use laundry time to text a family member, fill out birthday cards for friends, or plan your holiday shopping list.

Whenever you find yourself waiting for something, this might also be a good opportunity to combine tasks. Whether you are waiting to see a doctor, waiting in a long line at the grocery store, or waiting for a bus or train, you can always use the time to your advantage. If you know you will have to endure a waiting period at some point in the day, carry some flash cards or a book with you. Even if you only get through a few cards or a few pages, the wait will go by quicker and you'll be closer to accomplishing your task.

Identify small weekly tasks and try to accomplish them while doing other things. For example, you cannot brush your teeth while you talk on the phone, but you can talk on the phone while you fold laundry. Small tasks are often the best candidates for combination.

Many students try to study while watching television. While this seems like a good way to multitask, it's actually counterproductive. You will not pay full attention to the material you're trying to learn because you will be distracted by what's going on in the television show. Studying should usually be done in a quiet area with minimal distractions, such as the library or a computer lab, or in your room with the door closed. Every student studies differently, however, so determine what works best for you and stick to it.

You can accomplish several tasks while watching television. Use that time to fold or iron laundry, prepare a to-do list for the following day, or text your friends from home.

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