Cognitive Load: Three Ways to Optimize – A Step-by-Step Guide

Cognitive Load: Three Ways to Optimize – A Step-by-Step Guide

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As you grow your business and your team, keeping everyone on the same page can be challenging. To ensure that everyone is working in alignment, you’ll want to optimize the cognitive load in your organization. Cognitive load is the amount of mental effort needed to understand a task and complete it successfully. In other words, how much do you have to think about what you’re doing? In this blog post, we’ll walk you through three ways you can optimize cognitive load in your organization: identifying Cognitive Load Optimization strategies, using tools to track and monitor improvements, and implementing changes that reduce bad cognitive load as much as possible.

What does Cognitive Load mean?

Cognitive load is a term used in cognitive psychology to describe the amount of mental effort required to perform a task. It is the total amount of information and activities that a person’s working memory can process at any given time. When the cognitive load is too high, it can lead to mental fatigue and decreased performance.

Identifying Cognitive Load

The first step in optimizing cognitive load is to identify the sources of the load. Common sources of cognitive load include:

  • Complexity of the task
  • Volume of information presented at once
  • Interference from irrelevant information
  • Lack of control over the task
  • Novelty of the task

Monitor Progress with Tools

Once the sources of cognitive load have been identified, it’s important to monitor progress towards reducing the load. This can be done through a variety of tools, including:

  • Self-report questionnaires
  • Performance monitoring software
  • Eye-tracking technology

Optimizing Cognitive Load – Three Strategies

Minimize extraneous cognitive load

Extraneous cognitive load refers to the load that comes from information that is not directly relevant to the task at hand. To minimize extraneous cognitive load, you can:

  • Present information in small chunks
  • Highlight the most important information
  • Remove irrelevant information

Minimize intrinsic cognitive load

Intrinsic cognitive load refers to the inherent complexity of the task itself. To minimize intrinsic cognitive load, you can:

  • Simplify the task by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps
  • Provide clear instructions and feedback
  • Allow for customization of the task

Enhance germane cognitive load

Germane cognitive load refers to the load that is necessary to achieve a desired outcome. To enhance germane cognitive load, you can:

  • Provide meaningful, relevant context
  • Encourage exploration and experimentation
  • Use visualization and other aids to support understanding


Cognitive load is an important concept in optimizing performance. By understanding the sources of cognitive load, monitoring progress, and reducing extraneous and intrinsic load while enhancing germane load, you can ensure that you are able to perform at your best.

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