Multitask plan doomed to fail after brain injury

It has become just a part of our nature now to do several things at once. Sometimes because we think that’s quicker, more economical, or just because we are lazy. I am guilty of what my Mum used to call “The lazy mans load.” To save myself an extra trip, I will carry as many things at once possible so I don’t have to go again. This can include carrying all the laundry downstairs, plus all the used mugs, ready to make more tea. This particular multitask I have down to a fine art, but I’m dreadful at almost anything else. (I have literally just done this ridiculous task yet again this morning, whilst trying not to step on the cat as I negotiated the stairs. Why do they always just stand in your way?!)

Previously in 7 Executive dysfunction challenges after brain injury , I mentioned how the ability to multitask can be impaired by a brain injury. Today I thought I would give you an insight as to how that affects me in everyday life.

Struggling ggling to multitask after brain injury

Internet shopping.

As most of you know, I’m not a fan of going into shops. Unfortunately they attract the “general public”, and since my accident I have more in common with a hermit crab. So instead I turn to the internet and see what items can find their own way here, without me having to venture into the big wide world. Internet shopping can save you money too, which is always helpful. But sometimes the postage can tip the balance and make it expensive. In an effort to be a savvy shopper, I will then try to think of what else I might need which I can get at the same time. Good plan Batman!

But what if the retailer I was going to for item #1 , doesn’t sell item #2? No problem, I will shop around I see who does sell item #2. Ah found one, but that colour is all wrong. Keep going…. Ooh I like this one, but it has to come from China and that takes weeks. No good, keep looking. *Knock at the door* Package arrives of a previous internet shopping experience. I better deal with that first. Now where was I, oh yes item #2. This is too hard and I don’t really need item #2, I was just trying to make the postage more economical. That’s it, forget it, I’m not getting item #1 either. What a royal waste of time!


OK so you know I favour “The lazy mans load”, which probably says a lot about me. It means I just want things done and out of the way. But in many other ways I manage to make this look difficult.

For example today I need to put the dishwasher on and there is a pile of laundry I need to sort out. Oh of course you already knew that because I told you I took it downstairs.

Now usually there is an order to how I would deal with this scenario. We have a washer-dryer due to lack of space in our kitchen. (Don’t ask me why, but I like to call him Mr Washy Washy, even though I’m not 4 years old. The dish washer is called Mr Dishy Wishy. Please don’t send the men in white coats round to get me, although I realise that does make me sound mad.)

So they aren’t at fisticuffs with each other over the water, I usually start with Mr Washy Washy first. As for him to wash and dry can take up to 4 hours. If I have been a bit disorganised recently, and decided I want to do 2 washes in one day, this is the best use of time. When he moves on to the dry cycle I can start Mr Dishy Wishy as the water is available. This saves about 2 hours and then I can have some quiet again. I can’t shut the kitchen door as that is where the cat flap is, so I try to get it out the way early.

But today as I took “The lazy mans load” to the kitchen, I realised I’d made an error. Although this is a well rehearsed multitask sequence, I had already put Mr Dishy Wishy on.

Multitask fail after brain injury

Knock on effects of multitask failure.

Alright I know I sound like I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill, and I hope you’re still with me and not bored to tears. This isn’t a big deal, but it can be frustrating. It means I never quite achieve what I set out too.  As I hate ironing I get it done in one shot. But as I can’t finish all the washing today without Mr Washy Washy making a racket during dinner, I will have to deal with it tomorrow. And who knows what non sense will happen tomorrow to stop me from completing this simple task.

Multitask problems after brain injury

So please don’t be hard on brain injury survivors if they don’t seem to be achieving as much in a day as you think they should. Being well meaning, just doesn’t always translate into “job done” for us.

Other articles you might like:

Can you multitask after your brain injury? Have you got any tips?

My blog on living with brain injury: If I try to do too many things at once, I can make things very difficult for myself.

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4 Replies to “Multitask plan doomed to fail after brain injury”

  1. The last line of your internet shopping is me all over…. only not just with shopping… I have to really focus to complete any task especially if am tired, and if i find it is too overwhelming… i just through the towel in for another day… only to experience it again…. The most frustrating thing for me is that prior to my brain injury, I was such an organised person who could finish task throughout the long haul … but now the littlest distraction takes me off task and then i have lost interest anyway. So its a triple whammy!

    1. Yes I had good concentration but now ideas pop in, do a jig and then wander off leaving my thoughts in chaos. Grrr…..

  2. in some scenarios i can multitask well. like the dishes and cooking, i can do at the same time no problem. i have a 10 month old daughter and that’s the kind of multitasking i can’t do. i’m also in school. i can’t try to do homework/studying AND hang out with my daughter without completely shutting down. i can’t, and WONT, watch movies when my daughter is here with my fiancé and i, because i can’t divide my attention and still be able to enjoy the movie, and enjoy time with our daughter.

    1. Ah yes,if I need to try to take in any new information I can’t do anything else at the same time. If others try to ask me unrelated questions I have to tell them to ask again when I’m finished with the subject in hand. Otherwise my brain just gets jammed.

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