Unfinished Tasks – Zeigarnik Effect

Affirmative action, Human Brain

These days while we stay locked down in our homes because of Covid19, I have had a continuous feeling of tasks that have still to be done. It’s like when I get up in the morning, I remember all the transactions which were pending with my team and with our customers and vendors. Even though today is a Sunday, as soon as I got up, my mind has played out all the tasks that need to be closed and then some.

This is pretty frustrating. Already because of the lockdown, the computer/tablet never shuts down, customers, bosses, colleagues all think they can call up at any time and talk. And now on a holiday when you get up you have all these unfinished official tasks staring at you even before you get out of bed. Now these things weigh on my day making my other tasks harder to finish and not giving me a sense of accomplishment. These unfinished tasks also create a sense of overwhelm for me. I have a hyperactive mind – so these pending tasks also make me end up thinking all kinds of situations because of these pending issues.

In the beginning of May I bought a book by Jim Kwik – Limitless. I had heard about Jim from Dave Asprey in his book and podcast. Jim is supposed to be a master at quick reading. I am an avid reader myself and buy books faster than I can read them. Each time I make up my mind to not buy any more books till I have finished the earlier lot, within a matter of days I end up buying more. Earlier when you had to buy physical books you still thought a second time, because the books would take time to come. However now with Kindle you end up getting an instant download, so I now have even more UNREAD books.

So I thought maybe Jim will talk about how to increase my reading speed and therefore I will be able to finish the books on my shelf faster. The book is really good and I learnt a lot of things, not only for speed reading but also on memory and thinking etc. I would highly recommend you reading it.

While reading the book, he mentions about the Zeigarnik effect – that uncompleted tasks create a level of tension that keeps the task at the front of our minds until its completed. This was an Aha moment. So its not only me, everyone else also has a similar situation.

I went out and Googled on the Zeigarnik effect and it seems Bluma Zeigarnik was a Russian psychologist who noticed that waiters in a restaurant always remembered which orders were pending for which person and the moment the order was fulfilled they would forget all about it. While searching on Google I also found so many people/authors who have created various courses, methods, processes for utilising the Zeigarnik effect to improve your lives.

There are detractors to this theory as well and I saw a lot of articles on Google which show that other researchers and academia say that this may not always be true.

Well not sure about the researchers, but I finally found a possible cause for my unnecessary stress levels on a holiday.

What’s your view? Do you also seem to remember all the official pending transactions even when you are on a holiday. Pls put in your comments below. If you have a better explanation than the Zeigarnik effect, then too let me know.

Till next time.

Carpe Diem!!!

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