If there is one thing that every college student will learn, it is that the ability to multitask is something that you must develop, unless you enjoy falling behind. What does multitasking mean? Well on the general level it means being able to balance your academic calendar with your social calendar. On a more specific level it means being able to type a paper on the Marcellus Shale, while having a conversation about Sophocles’ Antigone, as you answer text messages from friends asking where you want to go to dinner.
Multitasking is not about being rude though. Part of developing the skill, is learning how to devote the same amount of attention to each aspect of your life. Doing this with your personal phone, computer, ipad, etc. is easy enough. But what do you do when people are added to the equation?
The best approach is to always be honest and say, or make clear, that while you are invested in the conversation you’re having, other aspects of your life are also drawing on your current state of mind. This is not to say that it is acceptable to start a conversation, and then proceed to write an email or check your twitter. This applies to when a conversation is started once you had already begun that email, tweet or status update.
I write this post with the belief that a misconception exists associating the need for multitasking with laziness, procrastination, rudeness or all of the above. The truth is that as time marches on, each generation will continue to become busier and more over-extended than the last. Instead of fighting this trend, it should be accepted and embraced. Whether we like it or not, multitasking is becoming a necessity.