A Productivity Lesson from a Classic Arcade Game – Study Hacks

Date: October 19, 2016  Posted in: Commentary  Comments: 0

The old arcade game, Snake, which can be found on many old phones can teach us a valuable lesson about productivity. People have reported having a good game and then taking a break to answer the phone and coming back and immediately losing their game. That can teach us a lesson about sticking with task until they are complete.

Key Takeaways:

  • The research literature on attention residue, which was pioneered by business professor Sophie Leroy, reveals that there’s a cost to switching your attention — even if the switch is brief.
  • When you turn your attention from one target to another, the original target leaves a “residue” that reduces cognitive performance for a non-trivial amount of time to follow.
  • If, like most, you rarely go more than 10 – 15 minutes without a just check, you have effectively put yourself in a persistent state of self-imposed cognitive handicap.

“This type of pseudo-focus might seem better than old school multitasking (in which you try to work on multiple primary tasks simultaneously), but attention residue theory teaches us that it might be just as bad.”


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