In general, there is a tension in our brains between exploration and exploitation. When we are exploratory, we attend to things with a wide scope, curious and desiring to learn. Other times, we rely on, or “exploit,” what we already know, leaning on our expectations, trusting the comfort of a predictable environment.
This feels like common sense after reading it, but having the correct terminology to describe the two processes (exploration vs. exploitation) is helpful.
I've found myself living a more distracted life over the last few months. Even while writing this post I've checked my phone notifications, checked Twitter, thought about a Facebook message I haven't replied to, checked in on a side project I'm working on, and tried to quickly debug a feature I'm building.
Not only am I scared of burnout – always being "plugged in" like this – but it now seems like overthinking and heavy context switching can reduce my ability to live in "exploration" mode.
I'm worried that I'm losing my ability to concentrate for long periods of time or go deep on a particular topic. Those are hard things to do when the mind is busy in several domains at once, but only on the surface level. This feels like a worthwhile problem to invest energy in reversing.