Human multitasking, that is to say, the shifting between tasks in quick succession, can be thought of like a computer’s CPU, with our working memory as L1 cache; extremely fast memory on the chip itself, but our other banks of information are stored on tape drive.
Our working memory is quick enough to process complex information that needs intricate analysis, investigative problem solving, high level task execution, abstract thought.
This warmed up working memory state can also serve as a gateway of connections to other parts of our brain. Fully running It can help us make sense of, compose information from, and be a conduit to the deep data and statistical learnings of the always-on unconcious.
This, and the speed of the memory, combined with our vast array of neurons allows our brain to arrive at new associations and powers advanced creativity.
But the moment we context shift to another task, all that mental state gets dumped to tape, to make room for some other focus. This happens fast, but the reverse is not true.
Loading that mental state back is painfully slow, once loaded, it then takes further time to warm up the connections again and arrive back into that generative state.
That's why suppressing the nag to check the phone, to read that email, message that person - is so important for deep creative work, we must allow ourselves to be fully engaged by our task, and fight off all other impulses for the duration, eventually our discipline muscle grows to a size where it is no longer such a fight.
Otherwise, these task switches will consistently paralyse our working memory, preventing it from ever fully warming up and getting into that state where we’re consistently generating the connections needed for advanced thought, creativity, and problem solving.