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The Zeigarnik Effect Is Why You Keep Thinking of Unfinished Work

The Zeigarnik effect and memory

It reveals a great deal about how memory works. Zeigarnik suggested that failing to complete a task creates underlying cognitive tension. This results in greater mental effort and rehearsal in order to keep the task at the forefront of awareness. Once completed, the mind is then able to let go of these efforts.

You can even use this psychological phenomenon to your advantage.

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The Zeigarnik Effect Is Why You Keep Thinking of Unfinished Work

The Zeigarnik Effect Is Why You Keep Thinking of Unfinished Work

https://www.verywellmind.com/zeigarnik-effect-memory-overview-4175150

verywellmind.com

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Key Ideas

The Zeigarnik Effect

Unfinished work continues to exert an influence, even when we try to move on to other things.

When you start working on something but do not finish it, thoughts of the unfinished work continue to pop into your mind even when you've moved on to other things. Such thoughts urge you to go back and finish it.

Books, video games and tv-series all take advantage of this effect.

The Zeigarnik effect and memory

It reveals a great deal about how memory works. Zeigarnik suggested that failing to complete a task creates underlying cognitive tension. This results in greater mental effort and rehearsal in order to keep the task at the forefront of awareness. Once completed, the mind is then able to let go of these efforts.

You can even use this psychological phenomenon to your advantage.

Get More Out of Your Study Sessions

  • Break up your study sessions rather than try to cram it all in the night before the test. By studying information in increments, you will be more likely to remember it until test day.
  • If you are struggling to memorize something important, momentary interruptions might actually work to your advantage. While you are focusing on other things, you will find yourself mentally returning to the information you were studying.

Overcome Procrastination

Take the first step, no matter how small. Once you've begun—but not finished—your work, you will find yourself thinking of the task until, at last, you finish it. 

This approach can not only help motivate you to finish, but it can also lead to a sense of accomplishment once you finally finish a job and are able to apply your mental energies elsewhere.

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The Zeigarnik Effect

It suggests that not finishing a task creates mental tension, which keeps it at the forefront of our memory. 

The only thing that will relieve this tension is the closure brought ...

The Zeigarnik Effect for beating procrastination

The phenomenon proposes that making a start on something, no matter how big or small, keeps it ticking way at the back of your mind until you reach the end.

Thus, getting the ball rolling might be a good antidote to procrastination.

Ernest Hemingway

"The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do t..."

Ernest Hemingway
The “useful interruption”

It's a psychological trick to avoid work paralysis, inspired by Ernest Hemingway's discipline of writing and it means to stop a task when everything is going well.

You will be more motivated to get back to a task that you've interrupted when it was going well.

Not finishing a task

Studies show that it can actually be beneficial.

To get all the positive effects from this (and to get back at it) you should feel that you are close to completing that task and you also should feel challenged enough by it, to care about its completion.

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Take A Break

When you’re working on a big project, taking a real break is important for mental productivity. 

Stop the project you’re working on, take some real time away, and come back to it with a ...

Mind Map It

A common reason for feeling stuck on a project is because there’s too much information to process, causing you to lose clarity on your end goal.

Mind mapping is a visual note-taking style to help you get your ideas out on paper. Essentially, you’re making a map of how all of your ideas relate to one another. Start with one central idea, like the overall project goal or just a piece of it. From there, think about the major tasks, goals, or ideas behind the projects.

Try A Change Of Scenery

Getting out of the space you associate with your project can help bring an unexpected shift in your perspective.

Try to get away from the setting you’ve been working in. Do you work from home? Try a new location like a coffee shop, library, or coworking space. Work in an office? Go offsite with your team.

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