Subscribe to my FREE newsletter
Be the first to know about new articles!
blog hero image (1)

Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



Subscribe to my FREE newsletter
Be the first to know about new articles!
blog hero image (1)

Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



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.

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 man’s 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 dishwasher 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.

Other articles you may like:

In the modern world we are used to trying to achieve so much in little time. We multitask to save time & energy. But my brain injury means it doesn't work.....
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.

Do you find multitasking a problem since your brain injury?


8 replies on “Multitask plan doomed to fail after brain injury”

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!

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

I’d never thought about if dehydration brings on bad moments with me. And yet I’m pretty sure I don’t drink enough as I’m always thirsty. Thanks for sharing this as actually there’s a few potential triggers I’ve not considered that I could be looking out for.

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.

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.

Multitasking…Just the word raises goosebumps on my arms! I think that multi-anything can bring on the dissociative panic and sensory overwhelm. Sometimes, my husband will turn on the TV while I have music on. There are certain songs, tones, tempos that soothe me, and I almost always have my music on at home. It keeps me present and feeling safe. If my darling turns on the TV while the music’s playing, BOOM. I experience instant panic. He marvels (is a very curious person) at how fast the panic comes on. (I generally can’t stand TV — the incessant noise and aggressive pace of it, both the sound and the visual chaos.)

In the kitchen…food prep, cooking, all the steps necessary to creating a meal…often impossible. At some point, the overwhelm comes on. Ditto if I’m talking with someone, and another person enters the conversation. It’s as if an electrical charge zaps my brain, and everything goes awry.

Grocery shopping…I can’t count the number of times I’ve suddenly stopped in an aisle, blank. It’s as if my powers of agency and comprehension have just…stopped. Regressed to infancy. There seems to be an “Off” switch to executive functions and cognition.

What helps? QUIET, in and for every sense. Stillness. Warmth. Spaciousness. Someone/something/somewhere familiar and safe. Touch — gentle and firm at the same time — almost always returns me to calm. I ask myself if I’m hydrated (amazing how a glass of water can start the regulatory process — and how much damage dehydration does), and if I need to eat. Is my body cold or overheated? Have I been on my feet or away from home for too long? So often, the most basic remedies are the best.

Multitasking is pretty much impossible now. ONE task at a time is sometimes too much 😉 (Sequencing continues to be a challenge…)

Here’s another one — getting dressed! Sometimes I lose track of what goes on, when, and where. I have to laugh at that one.

So…quiet, rest, getting myself away from stimulation and chaos, making sure I’m warm and boundered (dropping awareness into the body, and wrapping up in a blanket or getting into bed; taking a warm bath), listening to my soothing songs, cuddling with my husband…and in the most desperate moments of panic, certain medications help (they’re a last resort).

The “screwing up” graphic at the top of your article had me howling with laughter! Thanks, Michelle. Humour is such great medicine…

OH, yes. We’ve all experienced the overwhelming chore of trying to do two things at once and failing miserably, even doing one thing!. Especially when when we can see ourselves doing it so easily before. That’s why I’ve always thought of a TBI as a “Performance” disability. We look fine, sound fine when we talk, but when we have to DO something, perform a task, it’s just too much for our brain and it shuts down. Consider all the connections that we’ve built up over a lifetime that have been broken, like attending to a task, focusing, concentrating, following directions. Our brains have been trained since our early school years, with gradually increasing complexity, to complete tasks and now nothing flows smoothly. We cannot DO what we used to DO so easily. The connections our brains have made are fragile, microscopic, and once the brain is shaken up, they are gone. So how to we get them back? Work at it slowly, deliberately, repeatedly to form them again. Be mindful of each step as you do them and don’t skip any. Practice, practice practice and over time it will all start to flow more smoothly. Not everything is gone, so as we form some connections we’ve lost, others we still have are there to help fill in the gaps. For me after 31 years of practicing, doing tasks is not perfect, but it’s a lot better and smoother than it used to be. Stay strong!
TBI Mum ❤️

Thanks Sandy you’re absolutely right. Sometimes I think I’m ok as I must be using the new connections. But I so easily get over ambitious and try to do things that I haven’t finished the connections for. Patience is a virtue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog newsletter

Get an email which gives you an introduction into the topic of the latest post so you never miss one again. If you ever change your mind and decide you no longer want to receive these emails there will be an unsubscribe link included at the bottom of every one, so you have nothing to lose!