#221 – Context Switching

Our brains are designed to manage context switching (i.e., moving from one unrelated task to another) which is essential to function in daily life. However, the switching does come with a switching cost in the form of more errors or longer completion times, according to the scientific journal, Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Typically, when switching to a new task, your focus gets impaired because you cannot entirely stop thinking about the previous task and give the new one your full attention.

Furthermore, when changing from one context (i.e., project, product, technology, etc.), the late Gerald Weinberg’s popular theory states that Developers lose around 20% of their cognitive capacity in the form of operational overhead (e.g., figuring out where they previously left off).

Even though one person cannot always exclusively focus on one task until it’s fully done, remember that Focus is a Scrum Value to follow, so see if you can reduce the number of contexts that Developers should shift between–e.g., by having them be part of only one Scrum Team (obviously).