Cognitive reservoirs

Every activity we engage in draws from a different cognitive reservoir. Reading has its own reservoir. Writing has its own reservoir. Answering emails has its own reservoir. Physical movement or training has its own reservoir. All activities—or all classes of activity—require fuel.

This idea of cognitive reservoirs is another mark in the “For” column of the “many paths” approach. Why? Well, I’ve talked before about the tyranny of task confinement and said that our health and sanity requires that we be able to tread multiple avenues of activity. If we can’t, then we burnout, and “burnout” is a manifestation of the drying out of a particular cognitive reservoir.

Specifically, task confinement draws water from the reservoir quicker than it can be replaced. And it is also an utterly inefficient strategy of resource allocation. Typically, during burnout we cease all activity. Unnecessary. Before hitting that stage we can switch activities, meaning space is given for one reservoir to refill while another is drawn from.