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Multitasking Madness

Multitasking Madness

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 09/01/2009
Last Updated: 11/15/2018

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I don't know about you, but I always have an endless stream on my "to do" list. And despite best intentions I'm forever hopeful I can conquer them all by multitasking. Tapping into my quick energy, I move like a hummingbird, wings all aflutter.

But you know what? I usually end up with one big mess; like discovering at 3PM that my breakfast dishes are still in the sink.

Take today, for instance: Got up and walked into kitchen. Switched on the coffee, headed back to bathroom to brush teeth. Returned to kitchen; turned on computer, and in between reading emails, fed dog, took out fruit to cut up for breakfast; milk to pour into coffee. Poured coffee into favorite mug and leashed up dog for walk.

But first.

I need to put in a wash so it's done in time for me to get it into the dryer before I start my busy day. So, I walk downstairs while sipping my coffee, and throw in a load. While there, notice laundry still in dryer from night before. Begin folding it - but then hear dog barking, so run back upstairs only to realize poor thing is standing by the door waiting to go out. Take her out, pick up newspaper from driveway and read headlines while she sniffs.

Come back into house, looking for missing coffee mug. Go back downstairs to finally load the dirty laundry and find my coffee - now cold, - perched atop the machine. Resume folding the clothes but hear dog barking - again. Now what?

Run back upstairs to see her standing by her empty food bowl with leash still on. Feed hungry dog and start to peel a banana but get interrupted when phone rings. Answer phone, tell whoever it is that I'll call them back later.


Sit down to finally eat breakfast and reach for newspaper so I can catch up on the news (which is old by now) but can't find it. And where did my coffee go?

Go downstairs and find newspaper in the dryer, my mug of coffee in the slop sink and the washing machine running with no clothes in it.

Oh, and a pile of unfolded clothes that need ironing. (Maybe tomorrow.)

Oh, and who was it that I told I'd call back?

What's wrong with me????

Nothing, according to . They've found that multi-taskers fail miserably at the very thing they're trying to do: multi-task. It's impossible to get it all done, they say, even though they may think they're being efficient. They simply can't keep things separate in their minds. The proof, I say, is right before me.

So, what's the answer? Crowd less things into a day and leave yourself with an even bigger "to do" list? Maybe you've got the answer!


The simplicity of slowing down can't be overstated!

So....I'm not alone. That's not a surprise - but it's so good to hear others with the same problem :) Ah, well, it seems that we're all in this together!


I really liked Ruth's article in the NYT about this, and also appreciated your post. I guess we all need to remember to slow down and try to do one thing at a time. That's what people practicing Zen have been trying to tell us for a long time!

This is so me. Sometimes multi-tasking works for me. But on other days, it leaves me scattered and unproductive; but I hate looking at a long "to do" list. And mine keeps getting longer and longer as I move unfinished items from one day to the next. One day, I'm going to erase the whole thing and start over.

I can definitely relate! I must admit I enjoy multi-tasking. Even though the research says otherwise, I feel like I'm getting something done--even if it's a little bit of several different projects (instead of doing one thing all at once).

I had a serious case of my mind rushing around like that this morning. Ugh. After a deep breath and a decision to focus on ONE thing, I managed to get out from under the mental pile. I only wish I managed as well every day!

Wow, this sounds exactly like my life. Except for the washer-dryer (laundromat for us) and the dog (cat), that is. Nice to know I'm not alone!

Interesting study. Thanks for sharing


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