A Minimal Cognitive Overhead

I have noticed a common pattern in two seemingly unrelated courses that I have watched. These courses are Developer Productivity by ThePrimeagen and Getting Started with CSS by Jen Kramer at Frontend Masters. The former is all about improving your development workflow and the latter is about… well, you guessed it! CSS basics. These definitely differ greatly in their nature, so what do they have in common?

ThePrimeagen on multiple occasions throughout the course highlighted that reducing a cognitive overhead needed to do things is crucial for improving your workflow. A couple examples:

In other words, minimize number of situations where you start thinking how to do mundane things. Prevent yourself from getting sidetracked and losing either a momentum or a thought context that you have had.

How does the CSS course relate to that, though?

Throughout the course Jen followed a pattern of writing content first, and adding markup later. Although one could argue it is more of a work planning, I think it is a form of reducing the cognitive overhead. You don’t think about the final form or a perfect markup. You simply start writing the content.

That is how this post came to be. I wrote it on my phone. In a Google Keep note. Whilst holding my sleeping son. Over four months ago. I couldn’t even add posts at the time2!

If I cared about producing the final result in one sitting, I would probably start with thinking how to fix my blog, and that would be one hell of a sidetrack. Instead, I started writing. A plain text. In a note-taking app. The text that I was somehow going to publish one day. I didn’t think about it. I focused on writing it.

Reduce the thinking that gets in the way of doing.


  1. Relevant xkcd: Automation. ↩︎

  2. My blog was broken until recently, but I am up and running! A New Beginning has some context for it. ↩︎