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How to Improve Your Memory: Stop Multitasking

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.

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.

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 tackle, much less, complete.

Multitasking makes a busy person overwhelmed with too many tasks to tackle, much less, complete.

"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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Too many lists to follow can become overwhelming and counterproductive. It can become daunting to keep up with checking off completed tasks.

Too many lists to follow can become overwhelming and counterproductive. It can become daunting to keep up with checking off completed tasks.

Multitaskers: How's Your Memory?

© 2013 Janis Leslie Evans

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