Zeigarnik Effect as a Tool for Peak Performance

September 30, 2018
September 30, 2018 kwaku Abedi

Zeigarnik Effect as a Tool for Peak Performance

Have you ever felt a task has to be completed otherwise you will not be comfortable?

Say, finish washing the dishes, ironing clothes or a report you were typing and left abruptly halfway to receive a phone call but never got to it.

That is called the Zeigernik Effect the feeling you can’t shake off a task unless it is completed.

The Zeigernik effect manifest itself in numerous ways.

This Psychological Phenomenon was by Russian Psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik after noticing restaurant workers could accurately remember unfulfilled orders but as soon as orders were fulfilled they could not easily recall a diner’s order.

That is why the ability to start is a key part of any project. Starting something ties you to it psychologically. It makes you emotionally invested in it hence you would work at it to its logical conclusion. I recorded my first podcast a few days back and now I cant shake the thoughts on what my second episode will be about already. I’m constantly making notes and writing ideas on the second podcast.

You can start by breaking tasks into incremental goals. if you have a goal to write 10 pages, focus on writing the headlines, then focus on, outlining of the pages and gather all necessary data before commencing the actual process of writing.

People detest the “feel” the Zeigarnik effect gives them and wish they could just shake it off, but it is a feeling to be admired as it is helpful in numerous ways.

The restlessness that comes from knowing that you could do your very best but not doing it. That explains why people say they have so much potential but do not feel like they’re working towards their potential. That is in itself is part of the Zeigarnik Effect.


The best way to keep charged up is to do what’s been nagging at you. – Susan Bishop



 Use Zeigarnik Effect to my advantage

Make the smallest possible step towards achieving your goals.

Make creative work as mundane as possible (waiting for inspiration can be hard) therefore routinise creativity as much as possible.

As Seth Godin noted one his podcast Plumbers don’t get plumbers block. Carpenters don’t get carpenters block. So why do people in the creative space feel like they need a special pass to deliberate on end on the things that we create.



Make Mental Physical/Notes

Sometimes in its debilitating form, the Zeigarnik Effect can lead to unexplained angst and anxiety but then the sufferer cannot pinpoint where that angst is coming from. That is why it is necessary to make notes and jot down any task that comes to mind to be achieved. Whether in a physical notepad or the notepad app of your phone.

This trick has saved me a lot and has helped me be more productive. I jot everything down, from blog post ideas to podcasting ideas etc.

Note taking is an extremely useful component in commencing any task. In my experience, I find gathering data or any useful information helpful to the execution process.

When I choose a topic for an article I want to write on, I do not start writing right away, I start by gathering all the necessary information and data I will need on the topic, be it quotes, videos, research report and other writings on the chosen topic.

Having gathered all the necessary data, I then start the writing process which makes it a lot smoother and I’m less tempted to log online to “research” which might lead me to distraction.


The Success of Crossing Things from Your To-Do List

Checking and crossing things out of a To-Do list is one of the most satisfying things. It marks a sense of achievement and gives renewed energy to carry on with day and the mental fortitude to help cross other things on my to-do list.


Start Small

Starting is always the challenge.  Writing a 1000 words at a go seem like a pretty tough challenge. How about breaking it down into writing just 50 words. The 50 words do not have to be coherent sentences. Just jot words down, phrases, points etc. Before you can say “Jack”, you’re on a roll stringing together numerous sentences.

The act of commencing a goal is essentially an act of courage.


Changing the Mindset and Making It a Creator Mindset

When tasks in my life is seen as a chore, it becomes difficult to give of my best.  I made a decision not to see a lot of my work as a chore but an opportunity given me by the universe to make a contribution. This mindset allows me to become excited about the opportunity to write, podcast and do the things I love. Having a mindset of gratitude and grace, good health and passion drives me to achieve my stated goals.

Its not all rosy sometimes I tend to wonder but then I sense that I’m “wondering”, I take a deep breath and try and find an easy route to come back into what I was doing before wondering.

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kwaku Abedi

Kwaku Abedi is Marketing, Public Relations & Digital Enthusiast

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