Nov 092010
Authors: Johnathon Kastner

Despite my religious convictions, I did some math recently. I was trying to figure out why it felt like I never had time for anything, despite not playing “FarmVille” or “World of Warcraft” and having banished “Minecraft” from my computer. It turns out I don’t have time because the universe has not supplied me with enough.

I’ve heard that for every hour spent in class, a student should expect to spend three outside of class studying and doing homework. Combine this with a part time job and normal life events, and you get a recipe for overwork and overstress.
Thankfully, the solution is readily available –– multitasking. Why be struggling to maintain your studies and hold down a job when you could be doing both at the same time?

Recent research done by associate professor Ben Clegg of our own university showed that multitasking is not something we’re very good at. Give us a car, a cell phone and the tiniest excuse to use said cell phone, and we’ll hit a dozen happy schoolchildren before we’ll miss the opportunity to use our smart phones to identify the song playing on the radio.

But we can’t let science slow us down from what we know to be right –– we’re natural multitaskers. We eat while we drive, we drive while we text, we text while we talk, we talk while we’re in class and while we’re in class, we nap. Then we have dreams about driving in a car that has no brakes to a final exam in a class we’ve never attended.

As an avid multitasker, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a full plate, so to speak. But there’s good multitasking and bad multitasking, and the trick is to learn to seperate what goes where.

Eating, for example, is largely wasted time. The food is going to get in your mouth one way or another, and focusing on the little pleasures in life is a surefire way to distract yourself from the big picture. Try eating with a book next to you, or with an important project in hand. Besides, paying attention to food means you’d have to face up to the fact that your diet is mostly pig-grease in a bread-like taco shell and high fructose corn syrup. Wait, I mean it’s high in protein, fiber and “corn sugars.”

The one downside to multitasking with food is that you may end up covering your project in crumbs and smears. This can be a benefit for an art student –– eventually, with enough colorful crumbs, you may have a masterpiece, as modern art is largely an untalented mishmash of random colors and shapes.

Multitasking can also work in written arguments. Let’s say you’re writing a how-to paper or article, and you realize you’d like to take a jab at the artistic community because you’ve never forgiven them for taking a urinal, signing it, and declaring it a masterpiece, thank you Marcel Duchamp. In this fashion, your paper can double as a written assignment critiquing art in a low-level core requirement art class.

Academic multitasking can also be done while taking breaks to engage in the social activites that keep us sane. Studying can be done at home while watching television or chatting on Facebook with only the minor cost of distraction. In this fashion you can get two hours of studying and three hours of social done in just eight hours of multitasking.

Likewise, drinking is a part of socializing on college campuses, and nothing says, “Serious about academics,” like cracking open a few beers with a textbook nearby. Bonus stereotype points if that textbook is still shrink-wrapped.

Dealing with life’s many little problems can seem to be a heavy burden, and juggling a social life and a job on top of school is certainly not easy. Still, if there’s one thing we know about juggling, it’s that it gets easier the more things you have at the same time.

Johnathan Kastner is in his second year of his second bachelor’s degree, majoring in computer science. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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