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8 Tips to Combat Forgetful Memory: Why Multitasking Doesn't Work

Updated on June 12, 2017
janshares profile image

As a poet, therapist, and observer of human behavior, Janis has a keen awareness of what makes people tick and behave the way they do.

Forgetfulness and Memory: I Can't Remember My Thoughts!

Memory problems cause thoughts to float away in puffs of forgetfulness.
Memory problems cause thoughts to float away in puffs of forgetfulness. | Source

Multitaskers: How's Your Memory?

How forgetful are you when it comes to juggling too many tasks?

See results

Multitasking and Remembering: Why Doesn't it Seem to Work?

I heard somewhere recently that multitasking is not a good thing. Apparently, we try to do too much and cannot retain it all. We end up causing more stress than efficiency, getting less done with even more stress in the end than we had before.

It's amazing that somehow, at the end of the day, we get it all done. Some things do fall by the wayside but it rarely results in an emergency or the end of the world. It seems that we have a way of creating more anxiety for ourselves about getting things done than is necessary.

Maybe if we work on taking one thing at a time and learn to prioritize, we may have less of a need to multitask. But in reality, it's easier said than done. Tips on how to organize more and multitask less are offered at the end of this article and in the book, "The Myth of Multitasking: How Doing It All Gets Nothing Done" by Dave Crenshaw.

But first, the following poem illustrates a day in the life of an unsuccessful "multitasker," who could probably use those tips to become more organized and less forgetful.

Too Many Tasks Prevent Retention and Productivity

Multitasking makes a busy person overwhelmed with too many tasks to complete.
Multitasking makes a busy person overwhelmed with too many tasks to complete. | Source

Overloaded with Things to Remember

Having too much to remember hinders our ability to recall the most important tasks to be done.
Having too much to remember hinders our ability to recall the most important tasks to be done. | Source

"My Out-Tasked Memory"


Did I forget something?

My dry cleaning, still in the trunk

Picked it up two days ago.

What did I come in here for?

Oh yes, My keys. (pause) My keys?

Where are my keys?


Medication. Did I take it today?

No, that was yesterday.

What was I supposed to do yesterday?

Oh well, too late

Time to put the clothes in the dryer.


Late! What time is that meeting?

I forget which one: Women's committee?

No. Block club. Hmm. Time for dinner.

Oh crap! Chicken still frozen, what now?

Don't answer the phone, just a telemarketer.

Need to call and check on Dad.


What time is it?

Oh yeah, time for that conference call.

(Sigh) Whatever, I'm hungry now.

Forget it, no time, gotta go.

What's today?

I'm sleepy, time for bed

Mattress bare, sheets still in dryer.

Multitasking Results in Loss of Time and Memory

Carrying out a bunch of tasks simultaneously doesn't increase the time we have to complete the tasks.
Carrying out a bunch of tasks simultaneously doesn't increase the time we have to complete the tasks. | Source

8 Tips for Better Organization and Memory Recall

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Sort out tasks by level of difficulty and how much time each will take.
  3. Start with the easier tasks first to feel a sense of completion and accomplishment.
  4. Build on accomplishments by tackling the next doable task according to difficulty and time.
  5. Break up work time into smaller increments and take breaks.
  6. Reward yourself with a treat when a task is completed.
  7. Take another deep breath.
  8. Stop adding on new tasks. Learn to say no to yourself and others.

To-Do Lists are Helpful if Followed, but . . .

Too many lists to follow can become overwhelming and counterproductive.
Too many lists to follow can become overwhelming and counterproductive. | Source

© 2013 Janis Leslie Evans

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    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Can so relate and excellent advice!

      Thank You,

      ocfireflies aka Kim

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is great! I can completely relate to the poem, and those are very helpful tips.

      Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a wonderful night!

      ~ Kathryn

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      That poem was right on! Sounds like many of my days.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      You're welcome,.Kim. I bet it resonates with a lot of us. Thank so much for your visit and comments.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      You're welcome, Kathryn. Glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Ha ha, yes, Jackie, many of mine, too. Thanks for your visit

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Multitasking and Memory Loss Poem, even with proper organization one can still forget sound advice

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Great advice! thank you... and well administered.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      This is right on the money! The absolute worst, is when you've wasted thirty minutes or so searching for that key, only to find it in your hand. :) Duh!!

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks, DDE, so true.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Glad you liked it, Mhatter, good to see you! Thanks for that comment.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      LOL, thanks for the chuckle, tobusiness. I appreciate your visit.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Unfortunately I can relate as well. I think as I get older I can relate more ;) I know it is a natural process but boy is it annoying! Good job Jan.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi tillsontitan. Yes, it resonates with many. It seems to be getting worse with me as well. Thanks for reading and voting, appreciate your support.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 3 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi Janshares,

      I'm a big list maker. The problem is that I have lists all over the place, and often leave the house to run my errands, but forget the list! Luckily, I can normally recall the list once I've made it. But I understand that stressed out feeling. Some of the stuff is less important. I forget to take my BP medicine sometimes, and am constantly thinking of new ways to be sure I take it. It's under control though!

    • profile image

      Beth37 3 years ago

      Wow, Jan... I just shared how memory is a real problem for me on the forum. I have been able to keep up with quite a bit at work, though there it is mostly codes and policy. At home it is ever changing schedules etc. For me it has to do with some health conditions I have though. There's just no way to remember every conversation, but as far as schedules, I'd never make it without the trusty calendar posted on the fridge.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      I relate to what you're saying Jean. I leave grocery lists at home all the time. Thanks so much for your visit and comments.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      I don't know what day it is without a calendar. Glad you can relate, thanks for coming by.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I have to "post-it" your tips in here. Great, useful hub plus a bonus poem. I enjoyed it.

      Voting up and sharing!

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hey CrisSp, thanks for stoppig by, glad you liked it. I'm so grateful for your comments, vote up and sharing!

    • georgescifo profile image

      georgescifo 3 years ago from India

      Superb post and poem..Really enjoyed :)

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you very much for your comments. So glad you enjoyed it.

    • SamitaJassi profile image

      Samita Sharma 3 years ago from Chandigarh

      First-rate poems---

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      I think we are all plagued by the fast-paced society in which we live. There are so many distractions for our attention spans and our brains cannot focus on everything at once. I think part of the answer is to deliberately block out the noise and make conscious choices about our use of time. I enjoyed your poem, voted up!

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, Writer Fox, for those keen comments. So glad you liked the poem. I appreciate your visit and vote.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      When we were quite young our mother taught us to make a list of the things we needed to do, do the quick and easy ones and tick them off first and then concentrate on the longer, more difficult. It was good advice and I love your hub on the topic, especially the poem!

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      BlossomSB, thank you so much for those comments. It means a lot to receive validation from your mother's teachings. I'm glad you liked my hub and the poem. Your visit is very special.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      janshares - I always think that women are particularly good at multi-tasking - I have a feeling that we learn it early, right from when we have to learn how to juggle so many things at once which demand our attention whilst they are growing up. Somehow I think we manage it easier than men but perhaps I am biased.

    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      I think you're right, sallybea, but we pay for it. I still always multitask, get things done, but at what cost? I'm tired, some things do get lost in the mix or forgotten. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      Beth37 3 years ago

      Good advise Jan... I had seen this one before. I need to go read that one... what was it? Something about curry? Was it chicken? I think it was a skewer or was it kabobs? Is that the same thing? I can't remember now. lol

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Ha ha ha, lol. You're so funny, Beth. Thanks for stopping by.

    • thetravelgal profile image

      thetravelgal 3 years ago

      what you say is so true, I tend to over multi-task and end up not getting much done. This should help get me more task oriented.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Glad that it will help, thank you for your visit and for reading it.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      I related to this so much to assisting my Mom, with Alzheimer's. Having her do tasks for daily living, is so much easier and rewarding when not multitasking. One thing at a times bares more no fail reselts.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      I'm so glad you liked this one, colorfulone. I wrote this purely from my own experience. I can see how it woild help you understand your mom better. Thank you for the comments and visit.

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