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“multi-tasking” in Architecture

April 30, 2024

Why multi-tasking is ruining your productivity

In the whirlwind of academic life, particularly for architecture students, deadlines often converge, and the pressure mounts as the “dip” period approaches, just before the holidays. This period, typically a flurry of project deadlines and end-of-term assessments, prompts many students to contemplate multitasking. Yet, is multitasking truly the solution to managing this hectic workload?

Consider the scenario: a student faces a daunting array of tasks, from drafting plans to writing essays, all with looming deadlines. The temptation to multitask—to simultaneously work on different projects—may seem like a logical response to the time constraints. However, upon closer examination, the feasibility and effectiveness of this approach come into question.

Attempting to multitask, whether it’s drawing plans while writing essays or listening to lectures while collaging, often leads to divided attention and compromised quality of work. In reality, switching between tasks detracts from the ability to fully engage with each task, resulting in subpar outcomes across the board. Research supports this notion, revealing that multitaskers are less likely to be productive and may experience an illusion of productivity, masking the inefficiency of their efforts. Despite this evidence, the allure of multitasking persists, fuelled by the perception that it is the only way to stay on top of a demanding workload.

The root of this misconception lies in the structure of academic schedules, where deadlines often overlap and priorities become unclear. Faced with this uncertainty, students may feel compelled to multitask as a means of tackling multiple projects simultaneously. However, this approach can increase stress and in turn, decrease the quality of your work.

Moreover, the belief that multitasking is synonymous with productivity is deeply ingrained in our cultural mindset. Yet, a closer examination reveals that the opposite may be true: taking breaks and stepping away from work can provide valuable opportunities for rejuvenation and fresh perspective, ultimately enhancing productivity and well-being. Consider the analogy of attempting to brush your teeth while drying your hair—a seemingly efficient use of time, yet one that compromises the quality of both tasks. Similarly, multitasking in the context of complex academic projects may result in rushed, mediocre outcomes that fail to meet the standards of excellence.

So, what is the alternative to multitasking? Rather than attempting to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously, students are encouraged to prioritize their workload and focus on one task at a time. By allocating dedicated blocks of time to individual tasks, students can achieve greater depth of engagement and produce higher-quality work. Another approach may be to embrace a mindful approach to productivity involves recognising the importance of managing energy rather than time. By cultivating healthy habits and taking breaks when needed, students can sustain their focus and creativity over the long term.

In conclusion, the myth of multitasking persists despite evidence suggesting its inefficacy. Instead of succumbing to the pressure to multitask, students are encouraged to prioritize their workload, cultivate mindfulness, and strive for quality over quantity in their academic endeavors. By adopting a more intentional approach to their work, students can achieve greater productivity and well-being in the face of demanding academic schedules.


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