Sunday, December 16, 2007

Attention chronic non-finishers, I know your secret! | Jonathan Fields | Awake At The Wheel

Attention chronic non-finishers, I know your secret! | Jonathan Fields | Awake At The Wheel

Non-finishing and the Zeigarnik Effect.

Legend has it, famed Russian and psychologist and researcher, Bluma Zeigarnik, was sitting at a cafĂ© in Vienna when she noticed that her waiter could remember the details of a large order perfectly until that customer was served. Once served, the order literally vanished from the waiter’s memory.

Through further research, Zeigarnik discovered that people, in general, will remember the details of most any task until it is completed and then, remarkably, forget much of what unfolded. Moreover, once begun, there is an underlying psychological drive to complete the task.

So, between the process of remembering what needs to be done and enduring the constant tug to bring a task to completion, every unfinished task stakes a claim to a small piece of our memory and short-term cognitive abilities.

It stands to reason, then, that the more we begin and the less we finish, the more chronically occupied our minds become. Beyond feeling stressed, frazzled and overwhelmed, this can also lead to impaired thinking, problem-solving and creativity. Not the most pleasant state in the world.

[…] from another article by the same blogger......[…]

In my recent article on non-finishing, I talked about something called the Zeigarnick Effect, a phenomenon where you remember the details of a task until it is completed and then promptly forget it all. It’s like completing the task wipes your mental slate clean. Similarly, when you write down the unfinished tasks that are swirling around your mind and detail not only their current status, but critical task need for completion, you create a significant amount of mental “space.” This space go a long way toward returning you to a calmer place.

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