Have you ever started something, dropped it to do something else, and then heard a voice in your head reminding you over and over (and over) again that you haven’t finished the job? Of course you have. But did you know that it has a name?
Meet the Zeigarnik effect: the finding that people remember uncompleted tasks better than completed tasks.
Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik discovered the effect in the early 1900s. Her professor mentioned that a waiter at his local cafe was much more likely to remember orders that were in process than those that had been cooked, delivered, and paid for. So, Zeigarnik decided to test the observation with a series of experiments, which came to a similar conclusion: We remember incomplete tasks better than completed tasks. And, once a task is complete, the mental nagging stops.
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