Context switching costs more than we give it credit for. - Deepstash
Context switching costs more than we give it credit for.

Context switching costs more than we give it credit for.

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Multiple actions under one cognitive category lead to overload.

Trying to code and listening to music falls under cognitive functions. Naming a variable while listening to your favorite songs' lyrics may result in cognitive overload.


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Cognitive overload also prevails in physical functions.

Imagine trying to clean utensils and cook food at the same time. They both fall under physical function, and the switching between them is a huge waste of time. Cleaning hands, wiping them, cleaning water droplets, make sure soapy water doesn't splash near cooked food, etc., takes time whenever you switch from washing dishes to cooking food. 


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Embrace the art of 'Batching' to tackle cognitive overload.

One of the effective ways to counter context switching costs is by following the sage advice of batching. More tactically, batching tasks by function.


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How 'Batching' works.

  • Writing code and reviewing code are now two separate functions within the same cognitive function. Even writing/reviewing code for two separate code bases are two separate sub-functions.
  • Grouping/responding to all emails is an email function. Even that is further broken down into triaging email function and responding function.


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Why 'batching' by function enhances productivity.

The best analogy is sorting forks, knives, and spoons when we are putting them in drawers. We can throw all silverware together. But then finding a spoon in that pile will take time whenever we need a spoon. The task changes from getting a spoon (execution) to finding a spoon (identification). And that's a cost we want to avoid.


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