Memory as a stack

2018-05-14 2 min read

    While the title is using two technical terms the post is actually about human memory - my memory. I’m not sure if it’s just me but lately my short term memory has been behaving like a stack. I’m working on something and then an interruption new comes along which suddenly gets pushed to the top of the stack. Now I’m working on this intrusion and when that’s done I hopefully remember my previous task so I can resume until it’s either done or the next task comes along and gets pushed to the top again.

    The modern world has encouraged this mindset and approach with constant interruptions. It’s more difficult to stay focused on the task at hand. We take breaks to check our email or browse a social media app and we’re adopting that approach to more serious work. As I write this post I have to resist the urge to take a break but at least I’m self aware enough to catch my subconscious in the act.

    Rather than treating our short term memory as a stack we should be treating it as a priority queue. Then the important pieces stick around and the interruptions get forgotten. Unfortunately we’ve trained ourselves to do the exact opposite and something we need to actively train ourselves to avoid.