Merge's Blog

Overcoming procrastination can be as easy as simply getting started

In my last instalment in our series on productivity tools for leaders, I shared a tip on overcoming procrastination.  Go public got such positive feedback that I decided to share a couple more in our next two videos.  Today’s idea on overcoming procrastination is take advantage of the Zeigarnik effect.

Use the Zeigarnik Effect to your advantage

The Zeigarnik effect, so called because it was observed by Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

To better understand the connection between procrastination and the Zeigarnik Effect, some background information about Zeigarnik’s research is useful.  In a series of experiments, she asked individuals to do several simple tasks such as solving puzzles and stringing beads.  For some of the tasks, the participants were allowed to complete them, and for others, they were interrupted about half-way through.  Interestingly, she discovered that people were twice as likely to recall the tasks during which they’d been interrupted than those they completed.

So …. if overcoming procrastination is your goal, and you want to get things done and off the to-do list, then the best thing to do is to get started.  If you just initiate the task and get it underway, the Zeigarnik Effect will kick in.  Because the item or project will now be incomplete, you won’t be able to forget about it.  And you will seek to relieve the tension by bringing closure.  Ergo, by getting the job done!  Item checked off the to-do list!

If you’re finding these productivity tips useful to you in your leadership journey, then here are some recent ones:

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