43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Incomplete tasks and the Zeigarnik Effect

Zeigarnik effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wikipedia says:

The Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed ones.

Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik first studied the phenomenon after noticing that waiters seemed to remember orders only so long as the order was in the process of being served.

Further elucidated by errtravel:

While sitting in a restaurant in Vienna—every good story about a psychologist takes place in Vienna—Bluma Zeigarnik noticed that a waiter could remember a seemingly endless number of items that had been ordered by his customers. However, once he had delivered the orders to the waiting diners, he no longer remembered what he had just served….

Though Zeigarnik didn’t get her coffee cup refilled following her meal, she did get into the annals of psychology. Zeigarnik theorized that an incomplete task or unfinished business creates “psychic tension” within us. This tension acts as a motivator to drive us toward completing the task or finishing the business. In Gestalt terms, we are motivated to seek “closure…”

Apparently you can game the Zeigarnik Effect for more effective studying, employ it to goose your direct marketing plan, or just consider it as one excellent explanation for the allure of multi-tasking.

In any case, it’s a fascinating idea and sure would account for why it feels so worthwhile to “close the loop” whenever you can.

[ via Company23 ]

Peter's picture

Whenever I'm reading a book,...

Whenever I'm reading a book, I never put it down at the end of a chapter. I always stop a few paragraphs before. I've found that I can much better recall what was going on when I pick it up again - this explains why.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »