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A Crazy Simple Productivity Tip You Need to Know

When facing a daunting project, the best way to fight procrastination is to start--even if it is with the smallest task.

You've probably read a slew of tips for besting your to-do list--everything from not letting social media tempt you to cutting back on in-office meetings

But did you realize that there are incredibly simple brain hacks you can do to really boost your productivity? This week, PsyBlog collected some rather fascinating research on just how to get your brain ramped up for ultimate productivity.

Among the advice was an explainer on something called the Ziegarnik effect. You might want to take notes because this one little idea might spring you into action. 

Start on something--anything. 

The ‘Zeigarnik effect,’ is essentially the concept that most people dislike leaving tasks they have started unfinished. So the idea is, that if you start a project--even with the simpliest task--you will be more likely to finish it and less likely to procrastinate.

Seems simple, but the concept has been proven over and over for decades. In the 1920's, Russian psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik, first became interested in this idea of people disliking loose ends while watching waiters in a restaurant. She noticed that the waiters forgot the orders they had already completed, only paying attention to the orders they were in the middle of serving. 

After noticing this behavior, Zeirgarnik conducted a study. She asked participants to do 20 or so different tasks and she interrupted the participants in the middle of some of the tasks. She found that afterward, the subjects were about twice as likely to remember the tasks they didn't complete than the tasks they did complete. 

About 60 years after Zeigarnik's orignal study, Kenneth McGraw and his colleagues completed another one. They had participants work on complex puzzles but stopped them before they were able to get all the pieces in order. They found that about 90 percent of the interrupted participants kept working on their puzzles.

So how does this apply to you and your daunting to-do list?

The PsyBlog post elaborates on how the Zeirgarnik effect is connected to procrastination: 

When people manage to start something they're more inclined to finish it. Procrastination bites worst when we're faced with a large task that we're trying to avoid starting. It might be because we don't know how to start or even where to start.

What the Zeigarnik effect teaches is that one weapon for beating procrastination is starting somewhere...anywhere.

Don't start with the hardest bit, try something easy first. If you can just get under way with any part of a project, then the rest will tend to follow.

There is one important factor to note about the effect, however--it doesn't work so well when you don't think you will be able to finish a task or if you believe you will do it poorly.

The key is, if you have a project you can't seem to wrap up, but believe in it-- just dive in, even if it is with the smallest task.

 

 

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