Tuesday, July 14

Managing the cognitive load


COGNITIVE load management is often mentioned as one of the core skills needed to survive in the era of digital technology.

One of the reasons is that students and young professionals are constantly bombarded with new information, especially through the Internet.

According to Forbes magazine, in 2018, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created each day and it is accelerating with the growth of the Internet of Things.

While beneficial, this overload of information can be overwhelming especially when it’s new.

Defined as the “ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximise cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques”, here are three reasons why cognitive load management skills are vital.

Learning new topics

When learning a new topic, it can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming, especially in the beginning, as you are still struggling to understand it.

And due to information overload, you can be easily consumed by repetitive information and end up becoming less productive.

If the content is too complex to understand in a short span of time, you should try to break it into smaller chunks and take your time to learn it so that you can process the information more effectively.

Preventing short attention span

Students and young professionals would normally refer to various sources such as books and the Internet to improve on their work.

When presented with multiple sources of information, your attention is divided between them, making it harder to understand new concepts.

As some of the information may be repetitive, you need to adapt the mindset of getting only necessary information and remove the content that is unessential so that you can learn more efficiently.

This way, you can use your cognitive abilities effectively without being consumed by the other unnecessary information.

Practising memory skills

Our working memory is often challenged when presented with an overload of information.

One of the most effective ways to prevent this overload is to present the information by using both graphics and text that are related to each other.

This can improve the processing of information as they are evenly spread and thus reduce cognitive overload.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.