Cognitive Loadometer

A simple tool to measure cognitive load and improve focus
Contributed by

Fabio Pereira

Jorge Galdino

Published July 21, 2021

What Is Cognitive Loadometer?

Cognitive Loadometer is a simple tool to measure the Cognitive Load of a team. In cognitive psychology, cognitive load refers to the used amount of working memory resources or the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory, as John Sweller refers in the book "Cognitive Load Theory".

When should I use this tool?

When a team is expressing some signs of:

  • Being overwhelmed with information and tasks
  • Not being able to handle the expected demand
  • Having to juggle too many priorities
  • Having difficulty focusing on what really matters


  1. The Cognitive Loadometer is not officially a Red Hat tool and it is not intended to detect burnout, nor does Red Hat intend to use this tool to do so. Burnout is an occupational disease recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and should be diagnosed by a properly credentialed and qualified professional physician.
  2. The tool was not created by Red Hat. It is not officially used by Red Hat. It was created by a team of Red Hat associates in the open source community.

Why Do Cognitive Loadometer?

Measuring Team Cognitive Load can improve team's productivity, focus, motivation and even mitigate burnout risks.

Team Topologies theory, by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais, mentions Team Cognitive Load as an important element of a team. According to Skelton and Pais "when we talk about cognitive load, it’s easy to understand that any one person has a limit on how much information they can hold in their brains at any given moment. The same happens for any one team by simply adding up all the team members’ cognitive capacities." They also mention that "when assigning responsibilities to a given team, we hardly ever discuss cognitive load. Perhaps because it’s hard to quantify both the available capacity and what the cognitive load will be". Inspired on other subjective scales, like Pain Scale, Fabio Pereira and Jorge Galdino created the Subjective Cognitive Load Scale used on this tool.

As a team's cognitive capacity exceeds, it leads to delays, quality issues, and often, a decrease in team members’ motivation. Research shows that people with higher levels of cognitive workload have increased rates of burnout.

How to do Cognitive Loadometer?

This tool has been built on top of Google Forms and it is extremely simple and easy to use:

1. Copy - make a copy of the tool here - this copy is yours

2. Customize - Change the Team Name (TEAM_X) to reflect your team name

3. Share - Send it to your team using this step by step

4. Analyse - Now you can analyse your team responses on a sheet

Look at Cognitive Loadometer

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Cognitive Loadometer practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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