Phone lights up with a text message… email dings on your computer… you have to get through anatomy while eating lunch?

It’s a normal part of life to be trying to deal with split attention. It’s also pretty normal to think that you can do it. Unfortunately, most current research on deep learning demonstrates otherwise.

Trying to complete two cognitive tasks at once makes you more prone to errors and less likely to process deep thinking. The second you’re about to have the lightbulb moment of how a disease really works you see your phone blink and now you have to start all over again. During your more difficult topics it is important to regulate the number of intrusions you have to your processing. There is absolutely support for doing one thing and doing it well.

This isn’t to say that easy doodling while re-listening to videos or cases isn’t helpful. It really depends on where your attention is. If you’re someone that likes to draw or listen to music just be aware of your thoughts. If you become more focused on your superhero stickman’s outfit or the rhythm of Mozart then it may be time to save those for a study break.

Take away? Deep thinking (reading, B&B practice exams, taking notes) — turn off the phones, emails, podcasts, and distractions.  Then you can reward yourself at the end!


Written by Dr. Kerri Lyons

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