Task Saturation From a Student's Perspective

A universal main goal of students is to graduate. We study with the end goal of passing an exam, we take exams with the end goal of finishing a class, and we take classes with the end goal of getting a degree. There are many threats to academic success including social life (parties), financial trouble, and side jobs. One of these threats is task saturation.

Task saturation is a circumstance where there are too many tasks to accomplish and multiple distractions to the point where it becomes easy to lose focus on what is important/vital. A commonly known example is that of a pilot. Put simply, he has to proficiently communicate and work over the radio, maintain altitude levels, change speed, and steer. When all of this becomes too much to handle the chance of a crash increases.

Students can experience the same thing; albeit attending school is not as life-threatening as flying a plane. While attempting to finish multiple assignments for 5 classes, study for 3 exams that fall on the same week, read chapters of textbooks, work to pay for expenses, and maintain family/social life, it is very easy for small things to be missed. A paper is turned in late, details are forgotten on a test, or a shift is dropped at work.

People deal with task saturation in several harmful ways. 

1. They channelize- focus on only one thing to the exclusion of all others. There are times when a student will have to juggle tasks and will necessarily have to work on several different classes in a certain time frame.
2. They compartmentalize- do a little bit of everything and don't fully finish one. If a student works on several different assignments and continuously switches from one to the other with a lack of focus they might not actually finish it. (If they do it may be sub-par.)
3. They shut down- don't do any of the tasks. A prime example of this is binge watching seasons of "The Walking Dead" during finals week.

There are more effective and commonly known ways to combat task saturation. 

1. Time manage. Sit down with a planner and purpose to use one hour before work to study, one hour after work to write a paper, the morning to exercise, etc. This will help keep a student on track.
2. Utilize a calendar- paper or phone. Record due dates for all subjects in a single place to avoid missing or forgetting one.

The third way to keep from becoming task saturated is perhaps not as obvious.
3. Make a Mission statement. Without a mission statement you may not know where to set your sights to begin with. Mission mindedness is essential to keeping track of the end goal- graduate. The mission statement is not limited to school. It may be very personal and include values or religious beliefs. Mission statements are also not limited to one field. A person can have a statement in regards to school, family life, or work. I become task saturated as a student and have many choices to make. Do I pursue health/leisure and play a game of racquetball, eat dinner with Raven, or finish a paper and sleep? It may be wise to wait to play the game until Saturday when the week is over. When students wake up every day knowing their mission statement they will be able to focus, stay on task, and be purposeful.

Many things tug us in different directions. Our minds are bombarded by thousands of distractions, advertisements, and inputs every single day. Having a mission statement is akin to employing a filter. Make one to be a step closer to conquering task saturation.
(It also has the potential to impress in an interview.)



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