The art of multitasking

Whether you are on the road to embarking on your dental school journey or already immersed in the rollercoaster ride called “dental school,” one of the most valuable assets you can acquire to enjoy the process of this journey is multitasking. However, it’s important to make sure you are multitasking efficiently.

Saying no to distractions is the hardest but most important first step to mastering this skill. Try to say no to two hours of scrolling through Instagram. Maybe you can skip that social gathering on a Tuesday night and leave it for the weekend. If you keep mindlessly watching YouTube videos when you need to focus on your reading, say no to Wi-Fi until you finish that seemingly endless chapter. Doing simple swaps is sure to help you stay focused and avoid wasting time on tasks that need to be done, especially if doing two at the same time.

Prioritize what projects you choose to work on and when, while trying to combine working on the right tasks together. Write down which tasks need to be done as soon as possible, as well as which ones require your full attention. It already can be a little more challenging to jump from task to task since your short-term memory can only handle so much. Make sure the tasks you do pair up have something in common so you can complete each one effectively and in a timely manner. Try listening to your operative lecture while simultaneously applying the knowledge you are hearing by practicing on your simulation mannequin tooth. You can also pair up easy, mindless tasks with ones that need a little more focus. Maybe you can listen to your lecture while making your lunch or exercising, or you can listen to that audiobook you’ve been wanting to read while practicing on your simulation mannequin.

Make sure you give your brain a break. Keeping your mental functioning at the highest level is what will give you the energy to multitask efficiently. Whether it’s by taking time out of your day to meditate, pray, do some yoga, close your eyes for 10 minutes in between lectures or anything that helps your brain not work for a little bit, you will be giving yourself and your brain that extra boost to keep going. Here are a few links that have helped me:

Learning how to multitask in a way that does not overwhelm you enough to cause even more stress is a skill that needs practice. The good news is anyone who sets their mind to practicing this skill enough — knowing the power of what having it in our world nowadays is — can do it!

~Loulia Al Bitar, Virginia ‘23

Loulia Al Bitar

Loulia Al Bitar is a third-year dental student at the VCU School of Dentistry. She loves spending time with her family and friends, and everything dentistry.

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