$$\require{cancel}$$

Humans can complete more than one simple task at one time, which is called multitasking. For example if you were to walk and chew gum you would be multitasking. However, multitasking when one or more of the tasks are even slightly complex rarely saves time and usually results in lower quality outcomes.

## Reinforcement Activity

Use a stopwatch to time yourself while you write down each letter of the alphabet in a row and then below that write each number from 1-26 in a row. Record your time on your paper.

Next you will recreate the same two rows of letters and number as before, only this time you will write a letter on the top row, then a number below, then a letter above, and so on. You’ve already done this once so if multitasking really is more efficient then you should be faster this time. Record your time for this trial.

Were you faster when multitasking? Was the quality of your work higher?

Don’t multitask when studying. Spend at least twenty minutes of focused work on a single topic, then take a few minutes of relaxed reflection on your work before moving on to a new task. Even listening to music might be distracting if you are actively listening to the lyrics or trying to decide if you like the song. If you notice yourself thinking about the music and not the subject you are studying, you may need to try something new.

While new to a topic you don’t yet have the tools to correctly evaluate your own progress toward understanding. Put simply, when first starting out you don’t know what you don’t know, which can lead to overestimating your level of preparation until after an exam or other heavily weighted assignment. Receiving feedback on your progress early and often will help you to avoid this barrier to success. Your instructor might provide early and often feedback in the form of quizzes, online homework, tutorials, in-class practice problems, and clicker questions, to name a few. You should actively seek out early and often feedback by attempting the example problems in the book before looking at the solutions, starting your homework early, and asking questions during your instructor’s office hours.