Have you noticed that when you start a jig saw puzzle you can’t seem to stop? Even looking at the almost completed puzzle above makes you want to rush over and fill in those last few pieces doesn’t it? This is know as the Zeigarnik effect and it may be the best way to stop procrastination.
In one old study, participants were interrupted in the middle of completing a task. Afterwards, they were given 5 minutes of free time. Despite being told the study was over, 86% returned to work on the task for an average of 3 minutes and 48 seconds. And these people didn’t even expect any kind of reward for finishing the task!
What does this have to do with procrastination?
You can now use the Zeigarnik effect to help you stop procrastinating. What is the definition of procrastination? The act of delaying or postponing something. To stop procrastination all you have to do is get started! After that you will be driven via the Zeigarnik effect. These studies show that thoughts about the task will keep popping up in your mind until you complete it.
While some people advise doing your most difficult and challenging elements of a task first, this is bad advice in most cases. What you should is the very simplest and easiest part of a task, so that you just get the project started. If you are writing an article, for example, just go ahead and write the first sentence.
The next time you notice yourself procrastinating, find the simplest element of the task and get started on it. You’ll be amazed how quickly you’re able to finish it afterwards. Furthermore, a final study found that you perceive tasks to be less stressful (or even enjoyable!) once you get started. Have fun!