Does this sound familiar? You’re sitting at your computer working on a paper for class. You feel like you’re making great progress, but then suddenly, without even thinking about it, you’re scrolling through your Facebook news feed instead. How did that happen?
This is a common phenomenon among college students. Some students will find themselves checking their email instead of working on homework. Others start texting a friend or turn on the television instead of finishing required reading. All of these things are called “Time Killers,” and they waste our time without our permission.
If you want to finish your work both well and quickly, you have to stay focused. The problem with Time Killers is that they disrupt our focus and cause our work to take longer.
Not only that, but they are so easy to do without thinking about it. This is why it’s essential to remove your Time Killers before they have the opportunity to distract you.
Do you catch yourself texting constantly while you’re working? Turn off your phone. Are you tempted to turn on the TV? Go work in the library where that isn’t an option.
Greg Mills, an education senior knows that his worst “Time Killers” are Facebook and email, but he has found a way to deal with them.
“The only way I have really found to cut myself off from my poor habits is to unplug my cable modem and turn off my phone. Usually I can get some good work done when I do this,” he said.
Carrie Robinson, the executive coordinator for Academic Administration, suggests that students do everything they can to avoid these distractions while they are working.
“These activities will often distract you for longer than a few minutes,” she said.
When you start to feel bored or tired while working and you’re itching for a Time Killer, Robinson suggests an alternative.
“If you’re nodding off, take a short 15-minute power nap so that you’ll be more alert and able to retain the information you’re studying,” she said.
To be clear, things like Facebook and texting are not bad, they just have a time and a place. Save these things for non-work time when you’re relaxing or having fun.
Some students say they work better when they have an IM chat open or have a T.V. show on in the background. However, the research shows this is actually not the case.
A 2005 study by the National Academies of Science found that students who studied while trying to multi-task stored the information in a different part of their brain than students who were completely focused on their work. The non-multitasking students had a much easier time recalling information than their multi-tasking peers.
This week, I challenge you to take control of your Time Killers and see if your homework and studying takes less time as a result. Why wait?
Reach the columnist at Emily.Muller@asu.edu