Cognitive Overload

Ezidoesit WhitepaperInformation varies in complexity, from the lowest level of complexity where something can be understood on its own (opening a car door, pressing F1 for help) to highest complexity where a number of pieces of information have to be remembered and processed at once (driving a racing car, editing a photo to change colour tones, darkness, and contrast).

These high complex tasks have a number of elements which have to be understood together to enable the task to be performed properly. Higher complexity equates to greater intrinsic cognitive load. Our brain handles this load through working memory, where we can store a few pieces of new information at the same time. Working memory is limited to two or three elements, especially when we tackle a new task made up of totally new information. For complex tasks, we usually engage long term memory plus working memory to get the job done. However, you will have had feelings of extrinsic overload where all the information is new and you can’t use working memory to help out.

We work in a space of "increased complexity, saturated with multi-tasking, interruption, and profound information overload. The effect of this cognitive overload at a social level is tension with colleagues, loss of job satisfaction, and strained personal relationships." (Kirsh, 2000 p.20)

The way in which information is presented reduces that overload. Indexes in books [remember those?] are a good example of how to find information quickly without having to read through each page. Ezidoesit reduces your cognitive load in the same way. Rather than an inbox of 100+ emails to constantly search through, you are able to work from an elevator bar of four sections, within each section are the sorted and scheduled tasks you need to do.

Computer Science studies (Mackay) have found that the ability to adapt the technology to your own way of working "can help users manage the growing complexity of their work environments and the corresponding increase in cognitive overload" (p.1). That makes sense; we all have our own theories of working and efficiency.

Ezidoesit is a technology that does not "automate" work, i.e. treat users as simply another component in the work process. Rather, Ezidoesit "informates" work, empowering us to use the technology in our own way, to make decisions and operate autonomously (Mackay). It enables you to reduce the need to multi-task by making a decision on email/task priority once. It reduces the clutter before your eyes –invoking the "out of sight out of mind" adage. Why is this important? Studies have found that information overload leads to stress, lack of job satisfaction, physical ill health, poor work and personal inter-relationships, delayed decision making, and decreased efficiency (Kirsh, 2000). Don’t let the oversupply of information that is pushed at you every day sap your mental strength and overload you. You deserve better.

K. Renner BA. MA Psych (Hons)

Kirsh, D. (2000). A Few Thoughts on Cognitive Overload. Intellectica (30), 19-51.
Mackay , W.E. (2000). Responding to cognitive overload: Co-adaptation between users and technology. Intellectica.

Pass, F., Renkl, A., Sweller, J. (2003). Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design: Recent Developments. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 1–4