Z for Zeigarnik Effect on Day 26 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Sniff Sniff!
The Zeigarnik Effect describes the tendency to finish a task once started.
In the 1920s, Russian industrial psychologist and psychiatrist Bluma Wulfovna Zeigarnik (1900-1988) who established the discipline of pscyhopathology, was sitting at a cafe in Vienna and was intrigued by how waiters in restaurants were so efficient in getting and memorizing their customers’ orders even without writing them down. Once those orders were delivered, the waiters immediately forgot them. She ran experiments for several years and in 1927, at the Berlin University, she published her research on this kind of work ethic behavior she called the Zeigarnik Effect.
In short, the Zeigarnik Effect is a sense of discomfort with unfinished business that bugs us until we finish it!
I can totally identify with this! Can’t rest until I finish something I’ve started! Even when I had to stay back at work.
Can’t sleep until I finish something I started for a client, even if it means I sleep at 3 am.
Can’t relax until I’ve finished a book I’ve begun to read.
Can’t dream of ditching the A to Z Challenge because I’ve started it and can’t bear to leave it unfinished.
Of course, there are those who won’t take on anything new until they’ve tackled what they have on hand. Mono-vision. But I like to look at the positive side of the Zeigarnik Effect. Those who’re focused and on-task and highly productive, have it inbuilt in them. The flip side is, with those who are inflexible, this mule-headedness can end up being a real pain as they’ll stress others out and create conflicts.
So should we care about the Zeigarnik Effect?
The right way to approach the Zeigarnik Effect is understand that work is ongoing and it makes sense to be flexible, relaxed and prioritize what needs to be done. It is okay to finish some tasks quickly and take longer to do others.
Managing our focus by being organized and disciplined, rather than scattering ourselves over things left undone makes more sense.
I’d apply the Zeigarnik Effect to our relationships, our life. What about some past experiences we haven’t gotten over? What about that time when we could have acted and didn’t, said something but didn’t?
Maybe we don’t remember it all the time, but something triggers the memory and the pain comes right back. Some things just cannot be undone. It is time, then to show ourselves some self-love and forgive ourselves. It is time to get rid of the pride and forgive others. It is time to get rid of the anger and get the closure we want, so we can move on positively. Let’s take action and do what we can to stop stressing over that unfinished business.
Granted that we want to hang on to certain things, but let’s also be ready to let go. Let’s learn to focus our energy on what matters most. Let’s use the Zeigarnik Effect to help us overcome distractions and procrastination , gain focus and get things done!
What do you think?
Have you experienced the Zeigarnik Effect?
My gratitude goes out to all of you who supported me, visited and commented through the A to Z Challenge this month! Thank you!