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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

August 9, 2023 - 4:00pm --

The summer is flying by but I’m finding many special blessings to enjoy with my family, and I hope that you are too.  It’s hard to believe that school will start soon for many families and the fair is around the corner.  Here’s a question to ponder, “Are your habits helping you achieve your goals?” Knowing what we want to accomplish in life may be a moving target, but it’s one that we need to keep refining for success. 

Not too long-ago an Ohio State University research study titled “Multitasking My Hurt Your Performance, But It Makes You Feel Better” caught my eye. There’s much more to learn from this small study, but I found it interesting.  The multitasking examples shared were “reading a book and watching TV” and “studying and texting.”  

Multitasking: Why we do it

Here are the basic findings from college students for 28 days:

* Multitasking gave students an emotional boost, even when it hurt their cognitive functions like studying.

* They are not more productive-but they feel more emotionally satisfied from their work.

* The addition of the TV made studying entertaining and the combination of the two gave them good feelings.

* Additional studies in laboratory settings have found that people show poorer performance on a variety of tasks when they try to juggle multiple media sources at the same time.

So, the question is: If it really doesn’t help us, then why do we do it?  Thirty-two college students carried a cell phone-like device and reported on their activities three times each day for four weeks.  Here’s a couple of the findings:

  • More multitasking took place when they needed to study, but they found that it was not productive, just helped them feel more emotionally satisfied.
  • Multitasking was good at meeting emotional needs.
  • Multitasking was shown to be a habit.  When we get used to multitasking, we are more likely to continue. 

Need to break the habit? Here's a step-by-step to try

How many things do we do on a daily basis that really aren’t productive, but we do them anyway, because we either enjoy them or have always done them? To change a habit, there are a few steps to take.  Not all steps occur in sequence, and we may fluctuate between two at times. 

Step 1: Identify what it is we want to change.  Some are easy to identify like saving money or losing weight, but others like keeping the counter clean or having personal time each day may challenge us because others are involved.

Step 2: Decide that you want to change-not because someone is telling you to change, but because you really want it.  If it’s affecting your health, you may have been encouraged by your doctors or family members to change.  If it’s something that you desire, it may take time to identify the best way to do it. 

Step 3:  When you are committed to make a lifestyle change, very little can stop you but likewise, if your heart is not in it, you probably won’t follow through.  Steps 2 and 3 can go back and forth until the commitment is strong enough to push to Step 4.

Step 4: Consistent action - I’m going to do this no matter what.  I’ve tried some things and found the one that works for me and I’m going to continue pushing towards my goal and recommit every day.

Step 5: Perseverance because I see results and I’ve accomplished part of the goal.  I know I can do this and will continue to meet the desired end.

There will be many challenges along the way, but why not give it a try and see what habit you’d like to break today?  Place reminders of your goal where you will see them frequently and encourage support from family and friends.  Being focused towards accomplishing a goal is worthwhile, pick a habit to change and start today to get where you want to be. 

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
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This article was previously published in The Daily Record.