Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
English phrase scatterbrained

Do you have a lot on your mind?

Do you feel like you are always trying to do multiple things at once?

It can be overwhelming trying to get multiple things done at the same time.

We’re going to look at how doing more than one thing at the same time can be tough, and how you can talk about it.

This is a common situation, and so you will find easy ways to talking about this and even connect using it.

Get Your Transcripts Today!

English transcripts

Make sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.
Subscribe and get the transcripts delivered by email.

Learn to speak naturally with the American accent.

Click here to subscribe and save 50%

We have a great question from a listener that you can probably relate to.

Hi to all,

Thank you for the amazing podcasts, you have been part of my daily commute to office. It does help me a lot with natural native conversations especially when you are adding many new episodes regularly, which makes me practice more often.

I have a question about how to describe if you are thinking too many things at once rather then being focused. I tried searching antonyms for “focused” which gave me “distracted” and that is not quite what I intend to say. To be more specific, recently my boyfriend and I were planning a trip to the US East coast. I was naming off many different cities that I want to explore while on this trip.

I wanted to say that I had too many ideas and unorganized thoughts, rather than being able to focus on a few cities. I was telling her that I want to do island hopping, hiking, and visit historical places among other things. I was so excited and my thoughts were so scattered, and I felt like I was all over the place.

Could you please simplify how to say that expression in one word? Or even say it with a more effective choice of words?

I really appreciate your help as always!

Thanks and warmest regards,

Aye (pronounced as ‘A’)

Understanding Some Background

We all get really excited when we’re talking about something that we feel passionate about.

You know that feeling when you are talking about something that you love and you want to share all of the details.

We’ve done an episode in the past about being excited about something, and this is a great reference for you.

If you want to get a bit of background then check out Are You On An English Kick?

You don’t want to feel bad when you have a bunch of ideas coming through at once.

You want to convey your thoughts, but ensure that you don’t come across the wrong way.

So this is all about showing excitement but in a somewhat organized way.

You will see that this is a common situation, and there are ways to talk about this very thing.

In the example it sounds as if the listener wanted to be a bit lighthearted and self deprecating.

This is a good approach, and it can make for a great way to connect as well.

Talking About This Feeling

When you feel a bit scattered it can be great to make a joke at your own expense.

This puts you at ease and it allows you to explain why you are talking so fast or seem so scattered.

You are bound to have this feeling sometimes, and so there are some helpful phrases to describe this in conversation.

  • Scatterbrained: This is a way of saying that you feel scattered. This tends to be a bit self deprecating. Sometimes people use this seriously, but know that it can be rude to describe someone in this way. However, if you say it about yourself it works well. You might say “Wow I am so scatterbrained I just want to go everywhere and I can’t focus!” It’s all about how you say it, who you are saying it about, and the context too.
  • All over the place: You don’t mean this literally, but rather that you are saying many different things at the same time. You can’t seem to focus and so you feel like you are all over the place and even a bit scattered. You might say “I’m so sorry, I’m just so excited about all the possibilities. I’m all over the place!” This can also be used negatively, especially when you say it about somebody else. If you were saying this in a negative way then you might say something like “She can’t decide what to do about the job. She’s all over the place!”
  • My mind is buzzing: This gives you a sort of visual or as if you can hear the sound of actual buzzing in this phrase. The idea is that buzzing sound is all of the many thoughts and ideas in your head. You could say “I have so many ideas. My mind is buzzing!”
  • Can’t think straight: You can almost feel this phrase when you say it, like you literally can’t see straight because you can’t focus. This can be used to talk about someone being very confused, but it can also convey extreme excitement. It could work to say it like this “There are so many possibilities I can’t think straight!”

All of these phrases help you to talk about having multiple thoughts at the same time.

You can use any of them to talk about yourself or others–but just be careful that it doesn’t come across negatively if you don’t mean it that way.

Other Times You Can Use This

There are times when you are trying to convey multiple thoughts at once.

There are times when your excitement takes over, and it makes just talking hard to do.

There are other times when you can use the words or phrases to convey this sort of feeling.

  • Trying to decide what to buy at a large store: Sometimes grocery stores or “super stores” can have so many options it can be overwhelming. You – grocery stores can be overwhelming
  • Trying to quickly leave the house quickly: You are trying to get out the door but you know there are a lot of things you have to do first. It may be that you have to clean up or gather your things. Whatever it is, you are trying to multitask and get these things done so that you can leave on time.
  • Packing for a trip: It can be a bit overwhelming when you are trying to pull all your stuff together to travel. You want to be sure that you don’t forget anything and so you may feel stress because of this.
  • Multitasking in general: It doesn’t matter how big or small the task is, doing multiple things at the same time can be tough. You are thinking of different things and trying to make it all come together. Your thoughts may be all over the place and that can be challenging.

There are always going to be instances where you feel scattered, and now you know how to talk about it.

This can actually be a good conversation to have because it’s something that everyone can relate to.

Roleplay To Help

In this roleplay, Lindsay and Michelle are gathering things for a plan trip.

Michelle still hasn’t finished packing and the ladies leave tonight.

Lindsay: “Wow–so you’re not ready.”

Michelle: “I know. I’m so scatterbrained right now. I want to pack all my newest outfits and shoes. And I need snacks!”

Lindsay: “Calm down Michelle! You’re just excited and can’t think straight.”

Michelle: “I know. My mind is buzzing. Do you have a packing list? I’m all over the place!”

Lindsay: “I’ll help you!”


These are great ways to share what is going on in your head.

Some of these phrases can be used in positive way, while others are more negative in their approach.

They are great ways to connect, possibly through joking about your own state of mind.

Try these out today and see how they can set a great tone in your conversations.

It’s a common thing that we all go through and if you can make a joke about yourself, that all helps in making connections too.

Taking IELTS? Go here to get top tips and Ex-Examiner insight now.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section below.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X