Multitasking: Make Twice the Mistakes in Half the Time



Two weeks ago, while in the middle of answering emails (and clicking on link after link until I had at least two dozen tabs open that would need to be dealt with), I remembered I wanted to send a birthday package to my twin nephews.

So I opened another window and with a few clicks I filled my virtual shopping cart with fun picture books.   And cookies. Animal cookies in a cute yellow school bus box.

What four-year old wouldn’t want to have cookies and then play with the cardboard school bus box, right?  So cute!

So I put two in my basket, checked out and then patted myself on my super productive shoulder.  

Then I continued toggling, replying, reading and jumping around my to do list.

Until the next week when my mom asked:  Where did you buy those cookies?

ME:  Amazon, why?

MOM:  Your sister seems to think they were dog biscuits.


MOM:  Yes.  She was pretty sure.  She said the ingredients mentioned the percentage of crude fat and protein.

ME:  But why would they package it in a bus?  Dogs wouldn’t care about that!!  No way.  It can’t be dog biscuits!

It was.

I checked my Amazon receipt and that’s when I noticed the things I’d been too busy to catch:

Great for finicky pets!

Made by Exclusively Dog.

Animal Shaped Dog Treats.

In my defense, I had started out in the food section, but with one click or maybe switching from animal “crackers” to “cookies” I ended up in the pet supply section.



“I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.”  

~Jennifer Yane


The thing is, I know that I’m entering the Mistake Zone when I start toggling between tabs, email and everything else.

I worry I will type the wrong name (legal vs. writing name) when I switch back and forth between personal and writing emails.

I worry I will hit publish instead of save while I’m in the middle of writing the “vomit draft” of a blog post–which to me would kind of feel like walking out of the house without pants on.

Still, some days it’s hard to stop adding another chair on top of the stack.


coleen patrick balance_opt

Got balance?


But  our brains slow down when they go into juggle mode and occasionally information can get lost between long- term memory and our short-term working memory.

And the next thing you know you could be overlooking important clues:

Made with human-grade ingredients.  No animal parts or by-products.

It’s a good thing vacation is right around the corner, because I need a Balance Check.   For now though,  I will remember to breathe, take a fun day and feel the waves.

There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves.

— Frank Herbert

Oh and take more time for tea.  I LOVE tea!

And it’s even better with a great snack.  Anyone want an animal cookie?


Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold.  But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow. 

~Douglas Pagels


What are your thoughts on multitasking?  Do you think it adds to stress or do you feel more productive?


68 thoughts on “Multitasking: Make Twice the Mistakes in Half the Time

  1. I love all the new technology, but it adds up to some multi-tasking or disengaged mistakes. (The animal crackers made me laugh. Last week, I had all these animal crackers and used them for crumbs instead of graham crackers at a VBS snack. I heard a little foodie saying “These are animal cracker crumbs.” He’s lucky I didn’t give him dog biscuits.)


    1. The dog biscuits are now at my youngest sister’s house–she actually has a dog–and she says they smelled like real cookies. So he probably wouldn’t know the difference. LOL


  2. Your post’s title is hilarious, Coleen, and I relate to the scenario you describe. I’ve never sent my nephews dog biscuits, but they know better than to expect anything from me on time. Last week, I forgot my brother’s birthday–remembered it the next day. Know what else made me laugh about your post? Your mother served as intermediary between you and your sister. I can just imagine the exchange between your sister and her. Sister: Coleen’s losing it. She sent the boys dog biscuits, and now they think she’s going to give them a puppy. Mother: Dog biscuits, are you sure? Sister: Positive. Mother: What did you say to her? Sister: Nothing. I’m afraid to call her. Either she’s out looking for a puppy or is so into her writing career that she forgot my boys don’t have canine teeth yet. You talk to her. Ask her casual-like where she got the biscuits. If she sounds stressed out, back off.


  3. Last summer both my kids lived at home which was great, but I tried multi-tasking on the computer while talking to them. Oh my! I made so many mistakes and really upset someone who was trying to reschedule a USTA tennis match… Oops! Now I shut my lap top when others are speaking..


  4. I’m prone to “monkey mind,” regardless of social media, so I’ve learned to set boundaries. After reading Kristen’s book (too fast, in one day) I dream- tweeted all night long! lol

    Great post! Thanks for the tea and cookies. 🙂


  5. So…ummm….Coleen… What foods are you serving at your next dinner party? 🙂

    That made me laugh out loud…especially since I had 8 or 9 tabs open a few minutes prior to reading this (now I only have four).

    Dog biscuits! Too funny! But I can see where it would be easy to mistake them for animal crackers. Packaging them in a cardboard school bus? Good grief.

    Count your blessings that you’re not me though. While buying brake fluid one day, my youngest was chattering away. When you screw up and grab transmission fluid instead (even though you’re LOOKING at brake fluid), it gets expensive (as in ALL of the rubber parts in your brake system will wind up disfigured…and not work anymore).

    Or you could be like my sister, who misdirected an email to a co-worker…that included the ‘b’ word in reference to her supervisor. Imagine her surprise when the supervisor wound up with that email instead.

    Yeah…multitasking…. BAD idea. 🙂


    1. Let’s just say I’m going to be very careful ordering food from the internet from now on!!!
      And your sister’s mistake–that is one of my fears! Yikes. I sometimes find myself checking my sent box, just in case. Not that I could retract it once it’s out there.
      Thanks Kristy!


  6. LOL! Maybe “Animal Crackers” are made for animals, then? Or maybe they’re made of animals… *shivers* 🙂
    I get totally lost while multi-tasking. Sometimes, while single-tasking too 🙂


  7. That is too funny, Coleen. Sounds like you and your sister will be laughing about this for years to come =D

    I’m not a great multi-tasker either. To a degree, it makes me feel productive, but then things quickly shift to overwhelmed.


  8. Too funny! If someone calls while I’m in the car, I don’t drive distracted, I talk distracted (I have hands free, but it doesn’t solve the problem)! Once my husband called and I told him I was going home for a late lunch with a (male) coworker, when I was actually driving back to the office after going out to lunch!


  9. You know, I hear that dog food is actually quite nutritious…but still. Glad you figure it out before you chowed down! Oops, no pun intended. 🙂


  10. Haha! That’s something I would do! Got some animal cookies with that tea? lol I read an article somewhere that multi-tasking actually leads to lower productivity. I try to remember that and focus on one goal at a time. Okay, have to get back to cooking dinner…hehe


    1. You’re right, I saw lots of articles online about that while I was writing the post, but I can’t give you any specifics because again I had a dozen tabs open . . . so who knows? 🙂


  11. Thank you for giving me my chuckle for the day. I laughed so hard when I realized you sent dog bisquits. I used to be really good at multi-tasking, but not as good now. And, I have push the publish button twice when tired and working on a blog. It causes distraction. Have tried to slow down. But, I’ve had the multiple windows open, then forgotten what I wanted to do in the first. Sigh:)


  12. hahaha that story is awesome

    And I love your posts and how they always inspire and/or relate to real life. It’s like having a writing/life coach for free.

    My biggest fear is that I sometimes send NSFW stuff back and forth with my friends and that one day I’ll hit the wrong name on my auto-fill and send it to an agent or employer.


  13. Funny about the dog biscuits! It was an honest mistake. 🙂

    I’m a big believer in multitasking. I get bored otherwise. Then again, I was raised by a man who would have a baby bouncing in the crook of his knee, the hockey game on mute in the background, sheet music out in front of him, and Mozart blasting over the stereo. I can’t even brush my teeth without walking around the house and tidying up.


    1. I also do other things while I’m brushing my teeth! Same thing when I’m on the phone in the house, I recycle mail, etc. It just dawned on me that I need to be careful not to recycle something i need! Ack!
      Thanks Emily:)


  14. Too funny, Coleen. We’ve all done odd things in our life, so you’re not alone. I used to multitask all of the time, but I think as we get older, it’s more difficult to do. Needless to say, I rarely multitask anymore, and try to finish one project before moving on to another. Otherwise, my head starts spinning!


  15. Coleen, you’re amazing! This is exactly what I needed today. In fact, I’m all about multi-tasking. I find it impossible not to multi-task, yet there comes a point where I take on too much. There are too many balls in the air and I don’t know which one to catch and which one to throw. That or they all come tumbling down at once. *sigh* Balance is such an essential part of life. Yet, sometimes I think we forget we have it until we lose it! It’s all part of life!

    Thanks for this today! And that is hilarious about them being dog biscuits! I would totally have that happen to me! 🙂


  16. Your poor nephews! They were jipped out of a gift! But the dogs were happy, I bet. Assuming they have dogs. If not, oops! I always think of multitasking as doing several things half as well as you normally would, which usually causes you to go back and fix something. So now I try to do one thing really well one time then move on to the next. I used to try to read blogs while watching TV. It would take me four hours to get through an hour show because I kept having to rewind to catch the part I missed. And my comments were ludicrous on the blogs because I was only half reading! Lame.

    The next time I think about multitasking I’m going to ask myself if it’s worth the dog biscuits!


    1. My other sister has a dog so he’s happy!! 🙂 I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paused a tv show and then left it like that for hours. I sometimes will put on a “filler” show when I’m doing something online, which is completely ridiculous. Multitasking madness.


  17. Oh my! That could have easily happened to me. I am multitasking all the time, sometimes without the best of success. I find myself doing less of it lately. I’ve had to step back because I wasn’t giving my best to anything. As a result, I read fewer blogs, comment less on social sites, but I am feeling better as a person and that has to be a good thing. Right?


  18. What a LOL moment! Shame that my multitasking mishaps are never that funny (though perhaps your sister didn’t think so!) 🙂 Worst thing that’s happened to me in a frenzied period of multitasking was having a car accident and, later, not being able to figure out the location of the accident. Ergo – world’s worst multi-tasker.


  19. I make tons of mistakes whether I’m multitasking or not. Sometimes I multitask, but I’m really not good at it. This post is hilarious and your photos rock, Coleen!


  20. Hilarious story, Coleen. Your point hit home with me since this blog post is my 7th tab 😉 I’m pruning my inbox and opening a ton of links. This system works most of the time but occasionally one link leads to another and that to few others and soon I have 30 tabs open. Whoops. Mindfulness and focusing on one thing at a time is difficult. We’ve become so impatient.


  21. This was great, Coleen! We have also been trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to convince our teenager that he would accomplish more homework if he didn’t watch YouTube and chat on Facebook at the same time. We all think we’re great multi-taskers, but a little more focus would go a long way! LOL.


    1. I just had that same convo with my teen son last night. It’s exam week and he was complaining about not having enough time, etc and I told him he needed to think about not having youtube and FB on in the background!! 🙂


  22. Oh, Coleen! I’m sorry, but that’s HILARIOUS in an “I can totally see myself doing that” kind of way.

    I struggle with multi-tasking while at work. I try to work on my story, draft blogs, and respond to email (via 3 THREE! accounts), and try to do work-ish things. One of these days, I’m going to regret moving in so many different directions!


  23. Oh man…that is too funny! Glad to know I’m not the only one that opens up all those tabs “to be dealt with later”. At least until Firefox crashes and some of them never appear again. Ooops!!! I have about 20 open now. Guess I better get to them before a fatal error occurs. 🙂


  24. Talk about drinking tea. I almost spit my tea out on the computer keyboard girl! Hilarious!

    Who would think that an animal would want to eat a treat shaped in another animal? What?

    All of us from early on learn how to multi-task. But there comes a time in all our lives when we no longer can handle juggling ten things up in the air at one time. It’s called age Coleen! It sucks, but how do we keep our focus on so many things at once? It’s nearly impossible anymore.

    You’re poor nephews! You’re family must’ve thought you were losing it girl! Thanks for sharing! 🙂


  25. I’m a chronic multi-tasking, and it’s actually something I want to stop. I think my work will be better and my playtime more enjoyable if I focus on one thing and on being in the moment. The problem is that stopping means I have to set some of my balls down and hope they don’t roll away where I can’t find them again.


  26. I wish I could multi-task. It sounds so productive. But i am just so incredibly insanely bad at it that it’s better if I don’t try. Of course, half the time I end up doing it anyway by accident because I’m trying to do too many things, and then, well, nothing but trouble 🙂


  27. Loved the Barking Bus! Reminds me of the time my husband and I went into our little local bakery Browies Squared. They had samples of “cookies” on the counter, and he picked up one to eat. He remarked to me, “These are deadly dry. Who would buy them?” Then he read the little sign with the dish, “Doggie cookies made to order!” We still laugh at that one.
    BTW, we are both multitaskers. Ask us how we started out in the morning, and we can’t draw a straight line to where we are now. Supposedly we are random creatives and innovators. Nice try, right?


    1. Deadly dry–LOL!! My sister did say that these “cookies” were super hard. She actually opened the box before figuring out what they were–so at least it wasn’t just me fooled by that cute little bus. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by Janice!


  28. So totally did the Publish when I meant to do Save thing just last week–good news, the only thing written so far was my “really cool” title I’d just thought of and wanted to capture; bad news, the title was “It’s not just what you see”, with of course, nothing to see. Thought provoking, I’m sure…

    I was seriously guffawing over your post — needed that badly, thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s