‘Multitasking is bad’
Making a conscious (or unconscious, as the case may be) decision to scan through 20-something RSS items a few times per hour means that you’re constantly interrupting what you were doing in order to perform another task. Even if it’s a brief task, the very act of breaking your concentration means it will impact the focus and flow of whatever got shoved to the background, and it takes longer to resume that task later when you’re done with the RSS scan.
Don’t believe me? There have been numerous studies that have shown that humans are notoriously bad at multitasking in this way. Research scientist Eric Horvitz found in 2007 that Microsoft employees took an average of 15 minutes to return to the task they were working on after being interrupted by a phone call, e-mail, or instant message. A 2009 report in Proceedings of the National Academies of Science said that heavy multitaskers tended to be more readily distracted by extraneous information than their more focused peers. And a report published in Science in 2010 confirmed that single-taskers could perform work just fine, double-taskers had to split their brain processes to monitor things separately, and three or more tasks simply caused hell to break loose.
I guess we knew this all along, right?