Other people’s procrastination and incomplete projects annoy us. What bugs us even more? Our own procrastination and incomplete projects. They’re the source of that constant nagging voice in your head that uses nasty words like should, ought, need to, have to, lazy…, especially when you’re lying in bed, trying to go to sleep.
I learned this week that
- I’m not the only one who hears the nagging voice, and
- There’s a perfectly good scientific reason our to do list bugs us so much:
It’s called the Zeigarnik Effect
“The Zeigarnik Effect is the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete. The automatic system signals the conscious mind, which may be focused on new goals, that a previous activity was left incomplete. It seems to be human nature to finish what we start and, if it is not finished, we experience dissonance.”
Here’s a cute cartoon to explain it:
And a more in-depth article (but still a short read):