"MIT’s President: Better, More Affordable Colleges Start Online"
A Kaiser Family Foundation report released last year found that on average, children ages 8 to 18 spend 7 hours and 38 min. a day using entertainment media. And if you count each content stream separately — a lot of kids, for example, text while watching TV — they are logging almost 11 hours of media usage a day.
But a 2009 study found that when extraneous information was presented, participants who (on the basis of their answers to a study questionnaire) did a lot of media multitasking performed worse on a test than those who don't do much media multitasking.
In the test, a trio of Stanford University researchers showed college students an image of a bunch of rectangles in various orientations and asked them to focus on a couple of red ones in particular. Then the students were shown a second, very similar image and asked if the red rectangles had been rotated. The heavy media multitaskers were wrong more often — because, the study concluded, they are more sensitive to distracting stimuli than light media multitaskers are.
In 2006, UCLA scientists showed that multitaskers and focused learners deploy different parts of the brain when they learn the same thing. Multitaskers fire up their striatum, which encodes the learning more like habit, or what's known as procedural memory. Meanwhile, those who were allowed to focus on the task without distraction relied on the hippocampus, which is at the heart of the declarative memory circuit that comes into play, say, in math class when you need to apply abstract rules to novel problems. The upshot of the study was that the focusers could apply the new skill more broadly but the multitaskers could not. Multitaskers' reliance on rote habit would be all well and good if we want our offspring to work on assembly lines, but to do the kind of high-level thinking that experts agree will be key to getting well-paying jobs, we'd better exercise our collective hippocampus.
- How did the day go? What success did I experience? What challenges did I endure?
- What did I learn today? About myself? About others? What do I plan to do — differently or the same — tomorrow?
- Who did I interact with? Anyone I need to update? Thank? Ask a question? Share feedback?
Every day, before leaving the office, save a few minutes to think about what just happened. Look at your calendar and compare what actually happened — the meetings you attended, the work you got done, the conversations you had, the people with whom you interacted, even the breaks you took — with your plan for what you wanted to have happen. Then ask yourself three sets of questions:
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