This effect describes our tendency to remember incomplete or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. Each unfinished task takes up some of your attention, splitting your focus. It also interferes with your sleep.
What you can do about it:
Write your tasks downas soon as they come to you.
Have a system in placefor organizing and regularly reviewing your tasks.
Have an end of work shutdown ritual, so your unfinished tasks don't stay in your mind after-hours.
Take a small stepto help you get started. The act of starting can help you keep going to the end.
Don't forget to review your completed tasksand celebrate what you've already accomplished.
Designate a place to add and organize your tasks that’s not your head: a pen-and-paper to-do list or a digital task manager like Todoist . By capturing tasks to come back to later, you can free your attention to focus on your immediate work, not remembering what you need to get done in the future.
Once you know what you’ll focus on, you’ll need a daily structure for staying focused on it. You may not be able to eliminate context switching from your day entirely, but these strategies will help you cut down on the number of times you have to shift your attention:
Task batching : Grouping and performing similar tasks together. For example, answering all of your emails at the same time so you’re not bouncing back and forth between your work and your inbox all day.
Time blocking : Dividing your day into blocks, such as “meetings,” “email,” and “deep work”. This method goes a step further than task batching and requires you to physically block off time on your calendar for a designated task or group of tasks and only those tasks.
Theme days : Designating different days of the week for different types of tasks. This is a more extreme version of task batching and time blocking that allows you to focus on certain types of work on certain days and postpone other types of work that don’t fit with the day’s theme.
Time boxing : Setting a limit on how much time you spend on a task. Similar to time blocking, time boxing requires you to designate boxes of time for specific tasks. The twist is that you must finish the designated task within the time box. The time constraint creates a sense of urgency that sharpens your focus.
Pomodoro method : Setting a timer while working on one task and taking regular breaks. This is a variation on time boxing that calls for 25-minutes of focused work on a single, clearly defined task followed by a 5-minute break with a longer 30-minute break after every four focused sessions.
When feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of tasks ahead of you, sit down, take a breath, and write a to-do list. This isn't just a sneaky form of procrastination: Studies have shown that we're more likely to achieve our goals when we commit them to paper.