The ability to multitask has long been touted as a desirable skill in the modern workplace. However, when it comes to academic success, single-tasking may be the way to go. Research has shown that multitasking can actually be detrimental to productivity and learning. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between multitasking and single-tasking and provide tips for students looking to improve their academic performance.

What is Multitasking?

Multitasking refers to the ability to perform multiple tasks or activities simultaneously. In the academic context, this might mean reading a textbook while listening to a lecture or writing an essay while checking social media. While it may seem like multitasking allows us to get more done in less time, studies have shown that it can actually lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in errors.

The Cognitive Cost of Multitasking

When we multitask, our brain is forced to constantly switch between tasks, which can be mentally exhausting. This constant task-switching can also lead to a decrease in the quality of our work, as our brain is unable to fully focus on any one task. In fact, research has shown that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%.

The Benefits of Single-Tasking

Single-tasking, on the other hand, allows us to fully focus on one task at a time, leading to higher quality work and increased productivity. By eliminating distractions and focusing solely on the task at hand, we are able to complete tasks more efficiently and effectively.

Tips for Single-Tasking

So, how can students incorporate single-tasking into their academic routine? Here are some tips:

  • Eliminate distractions: Turn off your phone and close any unnecessary tabs on your computer to eliminate potential distractions.
  • Create a schedule: Plan out your day and set specific times for each task. This will help you stay focused and avoid the temptation to multitask.
  • Take breaks: It’s important to take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout. Use this time to recharge and prepare for your next task.


While multitasking may seem like an efficient way to get more done in less time, it can actually be detrimental to academic success. By incorporating single-tasking into your routine and eliminating distractions, you can improve the quality of your work and increase productivity. Remember, it’s not about doing more, it’s about doing better.