From Age of Em, paperback edition, p. 195-6: Today, mental fatigue reduces mental performance by about 0.1 percent per minute. As by resting we can recover at a rate of 1 percent per minute, we need roughly one-tenth of our workday to be break time, with the duration between breaks being not much more than an hour or two. We seem to prefer to take a break once an hour, relative to having breaks more often. Breaks help productivity more when they are short and frequent, when they happen in the morning relative to afternoon, and when the activities during breaks are preferred, social, work-related, and outside the office. There is also evidence suggesting productivity gains from napping for ten to thirty minutes one or a few times a day; a thirty-minute nap four times a day seems enough to stop performance deterioration.
Hmmm... don't know. If you can't get away with being on call 24/7, you certainly have a strange combination of being low status enough, so that interrupting you is cheap, yet being high-status enough that you're needed all the time.Hospital interns?If your boss can interrupt you during family dinner time, that's not a general problem with "work at home".Unreasonable expectations and a lack of boundaries, more like. Those aren't a necessary part of the concept.
I think a lot of it is people not being needed on call 24/7 but they got addicted to the dopamine hits of push messages and checking their emails constantly.Push messages are on by default with any messaging service and many people don't know or care to change their settings.Also whenever you're uncertain about what to do next..... just check your email and there's possibly some relevant input! Mostly there's not, but when there is..... payoff. So there's a gambling aspect to it.Also.... bing, bing.... oh my.... what could it be?! Intrigue, mystery, suspense..... most of the time it's irrelevant, but then once in a while..... something really cool!I'm seeing this behaviour in students, that definitely don't need to be on call. But they check their phones all the time. Info hygiene just isn't a super obvious concept, since all this tech is fairly new.Though I think people figure this out eventually.
tl;dr: Your model of there being one variable called "restfulness" is too simple.
They [the many tasks you could switch to] may not be comparatively restful to a nap, according to the chart. But when in the grips of restlessness, you can't really take a nap, because your thoughts would just run on without end.
So you'd need the comparison chart for how restful each option is for those who end up not taking the seemingly restful option.
The introvert taking a break from people stuff might get an experience of rest, that's not needed/necessary or available for the extrovert who never gets tired of them.
Doing physical chores like folding laundry or dealing with dishes is probably the most restful thing on the list for me sometimes.It's useful, but non-stimulating.That's not quite it. TV and reading novels is arguably more relaxing in that my pulse would probably drop more, but that's also very dulling. And they are also memetic hazards, because they will create running loops and fantasies that pop up as distractions later.Video games are very energizing, but they reliably lead only to more and more video gaming.
Maintaining a consistent mental state isn't exactly easy. And if you fail at it totally, you can't self-predict, thus you can't plan, thus everything goes wrong, sideways or backwards. So you failed at uncertainty minimization hence you get stressed out.Worst case, you get ingrained flinch reactions at facing what's necessary.If none of that is relatable, well you see.... pretty sure, that the meaning of rest is more complicated and varies by individual.
One term for the feeling of being rested is "contentment" which is defined as pleasure and satisfaction. Satisfaction is the feeling of having completed a task. So at the end of the day, it's important to feel that everything which should have been done, has been done. After all, nobody can relax if they are still worried about what happened at work. So the feeling of closure must accompany finishing an assignment, and then going home.
That feeling allows people to let down their guard, so that they can enjoy the pleasures of the evening. But nowadays, with mobile phones and email, nobody ever feels that they have completed a day of work. The boss can call anytime. So now everyone carries the stress of work home with them. We are all "on-call" twenty four hours a day. That makes it impossible to enjoy a family meal, because the office might contact you in half an hour. You have to be ready!
That makes the "work from home" issue a social problem. It used to be that going to work, and then coming home was a kind of closure in itself. But now, your boss is watching you in your home. So there's no escape from surveillance, or the feeling that you haven't done enough. Just looking a laptop will trigger anxiety. And then millions of people will get sick from obsessive compulsive disorder. That happens when people stop achieving "closure" and imagine nothing but the pressure to do more. That's why they keep washing their hands over and over. Those neurotic victims of surveillance must "do" something, because relaxation is proof of laziness. So the whole "work from home" concept is illegitimate. It's a permanent form of stress which will cause psychological harm to millions of people.
Yes of course there are gains to task switching. But this data clearly suggests that many tasks you could switch to are not very restful. So there must be other factors that influence restfulness.
[epistemic status: uhm..... feels about right]Task-switching might look like a heuristic, but I think it's more due to the Brain being a large network with factions competing for consciousness.
If you stay with task A, mostly using a set of brain regions B for hours on end, I don't think there's an "avoid gambler's fallacy"-override kicking in, as some kind of evolved control-response.It think it necessarily follows from the architecture of the brain itself.
Non-B brain regions eventually get sick of being shut out and having to watch (to them) irrelevant task A stuff all the time. So they manage to successfully mount a rebellion and force a task-switch, that's more suited to them.If they don't fully succeed, they at least cause interference, which accounts for mental fatigue.
Being one of those dopaminergic drug users myself, I can say that this hyperfocus that can arise feels compulsive and it feels "wrong". You notice yourself doing something and also being somewhat unhappy about that fact, yet you persist in it anyway.And my files are beautifully organized now and how can that really be wrong :)
This is (among many other things) relevant to that perspective:https://meltingasphalt.com/...https://slatestarcodex.com/...https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...
Lots of jobs involving managing. Lots of jobs involve working at a usual job. Lots of jobs involve hard studying of written material. There's nothing bizarre about noting the overlap between jobs and these supposedly completely different non-restorative activities, and that the more restorative activities tend to overlap less. Something something coalitions variety... Also, you still haven't provided any better theories or observations on the margin.
You invoke a theory that is about not doing the same thing too much, then you tell us that studying a book, managing kids, and working at a usual job are all the same thing. I don't know what else to say here.
I disagree. And in any case, you are always complaining about people criticizing your own theories without offering a substitute and not thinking on the margin; do you have a better theory of willpower, which better accounts for all the observations and evidence that Kurzban marshals, which explains why (like other drives), steadily depletes over time, is modified by dopaminergic drugs, can be affected by swishing sugar water (not swallowing), has no visible metabolic limits, is not correlated with caloric expenditure, does not apply to autonomic systems like heart muscle, is reset by switching tasks, which predicts why anti-procrastination strategies like breaking up into chunks or switching every 20 minutes or reorganizing rewards like GTD/Pomodoro/procrastination equation all work, which is simple, parsimonious, parallels the research on psychological control of muscle fatigue,and has clear evopsych, economic, and RL interpretations and predictions?
They all seem obviously different from each other, and from the original work task.
Studying a nonfiction book? Managing an ill-tempered subordinate (child)? Doing a job interview? Managing impressions and doing PR on social media? Being yelled at and drilled and taught stuff in sports in public? Aside from intrinsic difficulty and aversiveness, they all sound a lot like work to me, and not very different at all.
But the very low restfulness activities according to the above could often be very different ones from what the person has just been doing. So clearly its not just about task variety.
The rankings and physical/mental activity levels seem consistent with the Kurzban opportunity-cost theory of willpower/fatigue: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/p... https://www.gwern.net/docs/... Switching activities is a heuristic to avoid over-investment in a single activity. An example would be dopaminergic drug users, like amphetamines: they often note that a drawback to the much greater ability to focus on a single task is that they focus on the *wrong* task for too long.
So the ranking of the activities' 'restfulness' is not because they burn fewer calories or use less blood glucose (those turn out to be irrelevant), but because they are *different*. The more different in location, people, activity, and tool, the better, presumably. The difficulty of the various tasks itself also plays a role, of course, as do the immediate received rewards, as those help modify the felt cost/benefits and opportunity costs of switching (pounding nails through your hand is certainly different from your regular job, but also costly in ways beyond time, and not immediately rewarding).
From an evolutionary perspective, such a heuristic makes sense. Perhaps in the modern context, 'getting tired' because of 'opportunity costs' doesn't really make sense, as there is more work for a specialized worker like a programmer or accountant than they could finish in a dozen lifetimes, but we are evolved organisms. Organisms can't afford to invest in a single task, no matter the greedy one-step expected-value, because they are mortal and face issues like gambler's ruin, and are also too stupid to optimally switch by tracking all possible tasks second by second. I interpret fatigue as being like pain or sleep or hunger ( https://www.gwern.net/Backstop ), a built-in heuristic which proxies for the unknown true opportunity cost and by building up over time, forces regular switching, guarding against neglecting other important tasks.