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How to conquer work paralysis like Ernest Hemingway

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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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

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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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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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We might all benefit from thinking strategically in the pursuit of our goals.

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A new study found a strategic mindset may make the difference between success or failure.

We should be aware and understand our own thinking processes. Useful strategies would include tracking your progress, recognizing your flaws and the areas that need improvement, then creating steps to overcome those challenges.

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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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What you're currently doing

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To learn to control your attention, set aside at least one time period per day to focus without interruption. Let it be no more than 90 minutes at a time. Do something important but not urgent.

Ask yourself: Are you scheduling time daily to focus without interruption?

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