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Day #10: The Zeigarnik Effect & Working from a Calendar Instead of a To-Do List
"At some point, you will have to learn to let go."
"At some point, you will have to learn to let go.
There is an endless list of obligations and expectations, desires and ambitions, and worries and fears that will always be ready to insert themselves between you and the feeling of peace.
If you never learn to let them go, there will never be enough."
2 Things today:
1. The Zeigarnik Effect
The Zeigarnik effect is a psychological phenomenon describing a tendency to remember interrupted or incomplete tasks or events more easily than tasks that have been completed.
If you’re anything like me, you probably fall into the ‘dreamer’ category of time psychology. The dreamers are the ones who have poor ability to predict how long something will actually take, and show up late to things, miss deadlines and generally end up having all your work snowball into Friday afternoon. (See: Parkinson’s Law.)
Saying NO to unimportant things will ensure you actually have enough time to get the important things done.
I have had an ongoing, futile feud with the inexorability of time since I was very young, and it continues to this day. The following measures go some way to subverting my perception problems.
2. Work from a Calendar, Not a To-Do List
Some tasks take longer than others, but all tasks look the same in a list. Seeing them in a calendar gives you a more realistic idea of how long tasks will take to get done.
If you need to write down all of the things you need* to do in a list to get them out of your head (especially before sleep on a Sunday night) then, by all means, do so. But, once they’re down on that list, start plugging them into your calendar to give you an actual idea of how much time you have to do them.
Knowing you have assigned these tasks a time and date to be completed, you will be freed from the anxiety those unfinished tasks create in your mind.
Go through your To-Do list and *cross off all the things that you could say NO to. Then pop your to-dos into your calendar.
If you haven’t picked up Oliver Burkeman’s “Four Thousand Weeks” yet, now would be the time.
Telling your boss NO is quite simple, but not easy.
Enduring your peer pressure is quite simple, but not easy.
Protecting your irreplaceable time is quite simple, but not easy.
Staying on your course when everyone tells you to change it is simple, but not easy.
Baby steps. NO takes practice. Start small, and work your way up.
Tomorrow, we’re going to look at the idea of not having to fill every moment of your attention.