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Don’t Let Me Tell You I Can Multitask

Multitask This! ... if you're able ...
… if you’re able …

Everyone multitasks. Or at least they believe they multitask. The truth is that they actually do little parts of multiple tasks in alternating sequence. Few people can actually do more than one thing at a time.

But that “parts of multiple tasks in alternating sequence” thing, that’s pretty good. And if we’re going to look at humankind’s abilities and say that within those abilities this is what we’re calling multitasking, than yeah, we all do that.

And some of us do it more than others, better than others also. Like any other activity in our arsenal, there is a spectrum of competence. But …

Exactly. How many of us do it well?

Not Me. Well, not really. Well, it’s complicated. It’s like my driving. If I’m in a situation where I am being challenged, I’m the one you want behind the wheel. But if you put me on a familiar street and send me to get something from a store in the middle of several common destinations, I might end up anywhere.

Multitasking is like driving? Really?

No, multitasking is as distracting in its own way as the scenery along the way when I’m driving. With multitasking, I’ll easily start doing several different things, usually as a result of starting to do one thing and discovering other things that need doing.

And, as I move through my chores, there is every chance that the distraction of discovering other tasks will purge the original job from my mind.

How bad does that get?

I can head out to cut the grass, for instance, and spend a full day in my yard without having started the lawn mower. Okay, that’s never actually happened, but sometimes situations feel that extreme.

I can get up in the morning assuming I’m going to cut the grass and never actually get to it because of the number of thoughts that start out with “Oh yeah, that has to be done today, too.” and “Oh, glad I noticed that, I’ll have to take care of that soon … might as well do it now.”

And then there’s hyperfocus multitasking

“What’s that?” you ask. Well, I say in my wise way, that’s when you look at a list of things that need to be done and, while ignoring everything else around you, you do these tasks in a whirlwind of flourishes that give you a sense of accomplishment even as you are performing the set tasks.

And when they are done, you realize that you were concentrating so intently on the list that you forgot the kids at daycare, the laundry is still in the washing machine from this morning and the article you had promised to write hasn’t been started. They weren’t on the list because they were too obvious to be forgotten – you thought.

It’s not you, it’s me. Well, maybe it’s us …

Now, I’m not saying multitasking is impossible for us. And I’m not saying it is bad. I’m not even saying you should be careful when you are multitasking, I’ll leave you to decide whether or not it’s an issue in your life.

All I’m saying is, like driving a car, I’m damned good at the mechanics of it, but it might be a dangerous tool for me to be wielding if I’m in an inattentive state of mind.

So don’t let me tell you I can multitask, I can, but I can’t. It’s complicated. Now let me see, what else was I doing just now???

Don’t Let Me Tell You I Can Multitask

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2015). Don’t Let Me Tell You I Can Multitask. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Jul 2015
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