Secretly, I’m not on here, I’m grading homework lol!
I always got told I sucked at multi tasking. Contrary to popular, non justified beliefs…I actually was always great at jobs involving multiple inputs and multitasking once I figured it out. I feel I’m best at in the moment chaotic moments. And I always need the fan on, the television, music, and people talking within earshot, otherwise its hardest to focus on tasks.
Under medication, I notice my attention is sort of, lateral, I can do other things, and not get agitated, but i can also tune everything out. Whereas before it was all a frequency I needed to be able to operate —the noises, etc. I also notice i spend less time gazing out the window!
I wonder how many teachers go undiagnosed or stigmatized for ADHD, as they’re among some of the best multitaskers!
I’ve pretty much given up on multitasking. What I do personally, is at the start of the day, I make a very simple list of about 2-4 things I want to focus on or accomplish that day. Then I break those down into a few bite size steps and check things off as I go. It’s about the only way I can keep myself organized, engaged, and driven without feeling completely overwhelmed.
Also, at work, I organize my work carefully, and I have a little visual marker (it’s acute little frog pen cap) to tell me what’s next. So if I finish one thing, or I want to know where to pick up one work the next morning, I make sure everything is tidied up, and then place the little frog on whichever documents/projects, etc, I need to focus on next.
I wouldn’t say we are good at multitasking; it is more that we are not good at single tasking, focusing on one task at a time for as long as it is needed! It is more that we are in the middle of many tasks! Or even in the muddle of many tasks!
I would argue that people with ADHD are inherently not good at multitasking (or, more correctly, “task switching”).
Multitasking requires having a good working memory. I, for one, am limited in my working memory. I’ve never been good at multitasking, despite specifically training to try to improve at it. I’m also easily distracted, so I end up task-switching unintentionally, and sometimes can’t remember what I was doing before I changed tasks/focus. (I was on Adderall for two months, and I found that it helped me to be less easily distracted and more able to remember what I was doing before I got distracted. My doctor has had me stop taking Adderall for now, and has asked me to track my heart rate out of a concern that it was giving me tachycardia - elevated heart rate; unfortunately, that means I’m back to my normal, untreated-ADHD mental faculties. For the record, I don’t think elevated my heart rate much, if at all.)
Here’s an article about ADHD and multitasking.
According to the article, one study “…showed that people affected by ADHD were no better or worse at multitasking, as researchers had thought, but they were less likely to be stressed-out by interruption and maintained a more positive outlook about their work, even when interrupted, than those not diagnosed with ADHD.”
… My take on this is that people with ADHD are often more used to being flexible, out of necessity because of our variable, interest-based attention.
Is it still multitasking when instead of not doing one thing you’re supposed to do, you’re not doing several at once? 'Cause I can do that like nobody’s business!
I can also relate to what @j_d_aengus posted above re: not being bothered much by interruptions. But I’ll add a disclaimer that it really depends on the interruption. In the study, they’re probably thinking of colleagues dropping an unrelated question here and there or a client calling while you’re busy with another task. I’m good with that. Those are all work-related interruptions and when I’m doing the work, I’m happy to do it in all directions. Hey, on a good day that’s just the input I need to stay focused!
I think the key is to switch your idea of what the task is. Instead of, in my case, fixing that one website, my main task is doing the work which includes that website but also whatever a client throws at me. Also, telling clients that we’ll schedule it in but it might take a while is encouraged by our bosses.
But don’t interrupt me with a private phone call or distract me with loud music or by leaving the kitchen door open so the whole flat smells like fish. If it gets me off my at-work mindset, I’m gone.
We don’t get stressed out, we simply switch to the interruption and may not get back to what we were doing!
I used to end up being the “goto person” at work because I would help solve (or at least try solve) any problem so I would get lots of interruptions once people figured that out. But I was able to quickly switch tasks, even remember what was discussed last time the person talked to me etc. That kind of multi-tasking came naturally.
The frog pen cap is soooo adorable I love little accessory things they get me excited to do the more mundane and when I see them they also work as wonderful visual cues for me too. I think this shows how we are certainly visual!!
My students call me Miss Harmony so great to meet another teacher!!! The students certainly help remind us when we forget too don’t they? I have that desire for novelty and I can see how it pulls me away from projects constantly! How has teaching been since COVID closures? Do you use paper weights? Similar to the recommended frog cap idea, I use painted rocks for paper weights to help remind me what I was doing next. Have you gone digital with teaching? Does that make some projects more challenging to keep up with?
Again, welcome to the brain tribe and Teacher Tribe!
Do you find that you have greater focus in areas like the classroom? I love busy, excited, engaged classrooms more than the quiet. Something about multiple children everywhere I can handle much better than really quiet classrooms. I often wonder how this impacts multitasking. Project wise I think I have all these running lists of ideas I keep trying to reign them in for myself as lesson activities and have this constant desire to perfect them only to move on to the next thing shortly thereafter.
Thank you for the welcome! I actually find it overwhelming to be in a busy classroom. Denied certification twice because of it. I’ve been an IA and find myself best with the kids that are high risk and the most dangerous (fight or flight risks). I can accommodate them because I’ve been around special needs my whole life. I’m great at behavior tracking and working with students one on one. We went to cdl and I find myself one of the best with the technology as well. I still find myself multitasking like crazy since I’ve also been working with my daughter with her school work and doing household chores. Although there are few students to work with, nothing is ever dull or quiet with the individual behaviors, but we are able to hyper focus on them since they need to learn those social skills.