What is the Zeigarnik Effect psychology and how does it help stop procrastination?

Procrastinating is a common thing for most people. We are all guilty of procrastination. And it often affects our sleep, increases anxiety, and deteriorates a person’s well-being. The Zeigarnik effect psychology is a psychological phenomenon illustrating the tendency to remember interrupted or incomplete work or events more easily than tasks that have been completed. This symptom was first found in the early 1900s and has been reproduced in countless studies.

Bluma Zeigarnik - Zeigarnik Effect psychology
Bluma Zeigarnik – Zeigarnik Effect psychology

What is the Zeigarnik effect?

The Zeigarnik effectwas named after its creator, Bluma Zeigarnik. She was a Lithuanian-Soviet psychologist and psychiatrist, a member of the Berlin School of experimental psychology.

While dining at a restaurant Zeigarnik notices waiters were able to keep track of complex orders and unpaid meals. But once the payments were made and orders were given, they weren’t able to recall detailed information about the orders. Intrigued, she started investigating the phenomenon.

Zeigarnik started an investigation by asking a group of 138 children to complete small tasks that included puzzles and arithmetic problems. She allowed the children to complete the simple tasks and interrupted them in between. The result of the Zeigarnik effect psychology indicated that 110 children from 138 had better recalling of the uncompleted tasks rather than the completed tasks. This means, almost 90% of the people have better recall for uncompleted tasks rather than the completed ones.

Studies indicate factors such as motivation, reward expectation, incomplete tasks may have a significant effect on the strength of Zeigarnik effect psychology.

How does the Zeigarnik effect psychology help to stop procrastinating?

Many people find it difficult to stop procrastinating and experience intrusive thoughts from incomplete tasks. Most of us get tense when we think of an unfinished task. But there are countless benefits people can get and use to their advantage.

When we procrastinate we often put things off. The reason for this is that we think it’s too difficult or there’s too much to do. But by considering what Zeigarnik was saying, Then it shouldn’t be too difficult to stop procrastinating.

Always remember that Procrastination kills dreams.

If we don’t finish a certain task, there’s mental tension. The uncompleted tasks are more prominent in your memory, while on the other hand, completed tasks are more forgotten. Once you hear the explanation behind it, it makes so much more sense.

To put the Zeigarnik effect into action, all you need to do is take the first step. Once you start a task, you’ll crave closure. The false sense of accomplishment increases motivation to complete a given task. This productive procrastination strategy can help with mental health issues as well as increases self-esteem, making you more resilient to negative thoughts.

So what’s the best way to stop procrastinating on a daunting task?

Just get started. Knowing that your mind will keep nagging you to complete it would make it easier for you to dive into it. Once you start, it’s okay to take breaks and get distracted. The Zeigarnik effect psychology can be beneficial to many!

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