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How to conquer work paralysis like Ernest Hemingway

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 that every day when you are writing a novel, you will never be stuck."

Ernest Hemingway

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How to conquer work paralysis like Ernest Hemingway

How to conquer work paralysis like Ernest Hemingway

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20191205-how-to-conquer-work-paralysis-like-ernest-hemingway

bbc.com

7

Key Ideas

Ernest Hemingway

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 that every day when you are writing a novel, you will never be stuck."

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.

"We need to have belief in ourselves – some kind of expectation that we can do something. And when we're closer to finishing something that we had previously failed to achieve, then that optimism increases."

"We need to have belief in ourselves – some kind of expectation that we can do something. And when we're closer to finishing something that we had previously failed to achieve, then that optimism increases."

Gestaltism

It is a school of thought emerged in Austria and Germany in the early 20th century.

It was built of the belief that humans make sense of the world through patterns; thus, the whole picture was more important to us than its individual parts.

Gestaltism and taks management

We can apply the belief of gestaltism (when we have parts of something, we always want to create a whole) to task management.

That means that we want to complete something if we have parts of it already figured out, especially if it's close to making sense or close to achieving some sort of goal.

Task interruption and the need for closure

When an interruption happens and it stops us from completing a task, we tend to feel unsatisfied and in need of closure.

This interruption can provide a motivational boost and determine us to finish what we started, but it's not always the case.

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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 ...

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.

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Reduce the stress of clutter

  • Apply constraints and stick to them: to tabs open in your browser, notebooks, magazines etc.
  • Use small storage spaces: Less room means less room for c...

Find places that inspire you

You might not be in a position to choose your workspace, but there are quick fixes: look for a spot with natural light from a window or skylight, take a walk outside when you feel stuck, or simply explore a new location. 

A new environment can quite literally lead to new ideas.

Task association

It's when your brain knows that when you’re in a certain place, you’re taking a certain action.

Take advantage of the way different locations affect you. Our brains love habits, and if we can associate certain qualities with different places, it can help us get into a better working flow. 

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The Productivity Systems Flaw

Many productivity books provide various systems to organize your life but fail to take into account people who are not focused or motivated in the first place.

OKR (Objectives and Key Results)

The OKR (Objectives and Key Results) method helps you decide on and stick to a practical goal and then define what it would look like to have that goal completed.

For example, if you want to read a book a week, the Key Result would be reading 52 books a year, and the Objective can be to be a better writer.

Defining OKRs

A meaningful goal-setting (Objective + Key Result) can be figured out by asking: 

What you want your life to be like (Objective) and what would you do if your life became like that (Key Result).

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