A Context Switch is a switch from one task to another. Multitasking, that is working on multiple tasks concurrently, is continuous Context Switching.
Switching context has widely documented negative impacts:
- Increased risk of mistakes and slower execution time, since humans have limited short-term memory, which is (at least partially) wiped on Context Switch, needs to be rebuild on resumption of the task, which requires time and, since manual task, potential for human error (“loosing the threads”)
- Reduced quality of work, since no Flow State can be sustained, which we are are the most efficient and creative
Any Work in Progress greater than one (per engineer) implies Context Switches and will reduce efficiency.
- Wikipedia: Human multitasking
- Context switching cost more than we give credit for
- Price of multitasking, Study, Stanford