Further Your Lifestyle

EP. 141 - the Zegarnik Effect | Further Your Lifestyle Podcast

November 26, 2023 Your Host: Chris Furlong Episode 141
Further Your Lifestyle
EP. 141 - the Zegarnik Effect | Further Your Lifestyle Podcast
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Watch on YT: https://youtu.be/sxuCJz6-Z8o

Ever struggled with a task, took a break, and then returned to find yourself breezing through it? Uncover the secrets of the Zegarnik effect and the powerful role of breaks in boosting productivity in our riveting exploration. Discover how uncompleted tasks, procrastination, mental resistance, and cognitive fatigue all intersect in our minds, urging us to not only finish our tasks but do so more effectively. We delve into the art of refreshing and recharging our minds, sharing insights on how switching between tasks and taking breaks can help sidestep cognitive fatigue and enhance productivity.

What if I told you that your productivity could skyrocket if you harnessed the power of flow state? Let's debunk the mystery of flow state and its profound impact on focus and productivity, discussing potential pitfalls like distractions, decision fatigue, and ego depletion. Discover how deliberately taking breaks can replenish your mental energy, improve decision-making and, ultimately, increase productivity. We also touch on techniques to dodge distractions and make your work hours count. It's not just about working harder, but working smarter! So, come join us on this enlightening expedition into the psyche. And don't forget to share this episode with others who might find this intriguing.

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Speaker 1:

Yo yo yo. Welcome back to the further your lifestyle podcast conversations on lifestyle passions and hustles. My name's Chris, I'm your host and I'm super excited to be back here having the conversation with you, episode 141 today. And today we're going through a number of different concepts and phenomenas around, helping us to realize huh, I never realized that's what it was, but helping you get that hot moment of. Maybe this is something that has been happening to you. Now I'm talking in riddles here, but actually what really I want to talk about is this situation that arose to myself and then I've been doing a little bit of research on it, been doing a bit of Googling, and I've come to find exactly what it is. So let me first explain what is the situation that occurred to me. So over the last few weeks probably probably the last four weeks or so I've been finding myself when I do my listings for my business basically listing items on eBay or when I have to do a task that requires me to do something, probably for about one hour or two hours at a time. So in times where I get into a groove and there's been times where I get into it, but then I find myself getting distracted or getting you know, wanting to procrastinate or just unable to get into a groove. And then sometimes I think about playing video games, or sometimes I think about doing something else, and what I found is when I actually go do the thing that I'm more curious about or interested about at that point in time so I'll go play video games for an hour or go watch something for an hour or just get it off my chest Then I go back after playing for about an hour or something, I start to realize I'm good to get back into what I was going to do and end up being more productive than what I was doing if I hadn't gone and done you know, spend an hour playing video games or something. So that's just one example of it, and I was trying to understand what does this actually mean? Is there a concept around this? Is there something that we can call it and I did, I found it. It's called the Zegarnik. The Zegarnik is the effect and it's basically this uncompleted task linger in our minds, prompting us to revisit and then complete them after breaks, and there's a whole wind of different things that I guess get to this point, and that's what we're going to discuss today. And then I'm also going to take you through a number of different other mindsets or, I guess, states or principles or concepts or even a phenomenon around that could be occurring for yourself that you may not have realized, and then, when you hear it, you might think, huh, this explains why I feel this way. So that's what we're getting into today. Let's roll the intro In the little story that I explained to you at the start of this. You know what I've been feeling and what I've been experiencing. There's a number of different elements to this or attributes. So we've got procrastination, we've got mental resistance, there's a bit of cognitive fatigue, and then there's this concept of refresh and recharge, and then we finish with Zegarnik, and then there's a whole bunch of other things. But I guess when we I mean we should all know this, but I don't want to assume we do so when it comes to procrastinations if you're not familiar with it, you know procrastination we usually tend to delay tasks. We sometimes don't want to do it because maybe it's going to be a lot of hard work, or we're the fear of having to get uncomfortable, or maybe we just have a lack of motivation, or maybe there's a little bit of anxiety there, but the distractions that are going through our minds, those things basically become more of our attention. Right, and that's the things that we tend to want to be doing. More Procrastination there's a number of reasons why it might occur, but this is probably a big prompter of you know, something that you experience all the time when you're trying to do something for an hour or two hours at a time Now. At the same time, then, there's this relevance of mental resistance, which usually it would refer to the hesitation to kind of start tasks and it makes it hard to actually just get moving right. So sometimes when we start, it's fine. It's the harder part. Some of the struggle with is actually just getting the task started, like getting out. Like you know, they say sometimes the hardest part of, you know, working out is getting to the gym. So people say we'll make it easy to do so, don't drive to the gym, just do it at home or put the close out the night before and things like that. But at the same time we have this hesitation because maybe we find it boring, or maybe we find it unpleasant, or maybe we don't understand the benefits of it, and usually also pushing too hard can amplify this resistance against, like pushing, trying to push into it, our body tries to push away from it even more so. The next one is then cognitive fatigue, which flows into all this as well, which is when we do extended focus, like when we continue to do the same thing over and over again, or we're trying to get into the zone, and that continuous focus actually ties the brain. It actually makes us feel exhausted and makes us feel just like if you were to go do exercise and you've been using your muscles for a lot. They get sore, they get, and then the next day, in the next day, you have delayed. So that's actually something probably really relevant to why sometimes I'll have two or three days where I feel really good, I get into a groove, I can get the work done, but then some other days I feel tired, I feel exhausted and I just can't get into it mentally, and it's probably because I'm my, my headspace is fatigued. So then we can bring in the elements of refresh and recharge, which is around, you know, switching between and this is where we start to get into the Zygarnik kind of you know theory as well but refresh and recharge, basically switching between activities, because it gives our brain a break. It gives our brain a refresh and it enables us to focus on different things and moves us out of the primary tasks, but also enables us to be focused when we do move back to our primary tasks, which then brings in the Zygarnik effect, which is uncompleted tasks linger in our minds, prompting us to revisit and complete them after breaks. So basically, this whole thing that I'm talking about is because I know I have to get work done, I know I need to get it done and I start to do it, but then on this, these things, like I feel tired, I feel fatigued, there's a mental resistance as procrastination, and because I spend, I think I'm being productive, but it's actually taking me two hours because I get distracted, or I look at this, or I go look at a game, or I'm you know all these different things go ahead. It's actually better off for me to go spend the time, get that out of my system, because once I get that out of my system, usually after an hour this whole linger starts to come into my mind, thinking oh okay, I should probably go do some work now and I'm ready to go get it done because I've gotten off my chest. It's kind of like if you were having a conversation with someone and there's been something that you've been, you know many people have been telling them for a long time. It's been building up, building up. So you're not able to actually take anything else in from them when they're talking to you, because all you're thinking about is like what if I tell them now what will happen once you get that off your chest? You're able to just move forward. So it's kind of the same situation, but in the, in the headspace. And I think a good example of this and we've spoken about this on the podcast before is the Pomodoro technique, where you know you might take short breaks in between things, but I think finding balance is the absolute key here. But there's there's also a whole range of different things that might be reasons or factors or influencing points that are driving you to not be out of the flow state. For me, I love flow state is when you do get in a groove and your averages bang something out for two hours. But there's times where it doesn't work that way. I like to get into a trance when I go running because it feels like a flow state. You get to the end of it and you're like, oh, you know, that two hour run only felt like 40 minutes and that's that's really what we want. But there's elements to all this that maybe you didn't know what flow state was and I'm going to talk about that shortly. But there's elements to all these things that maybe we don't understand what's actually going on in our heads or why we're feeling this way, and that's what I want to continue this conversation about. So we're going to jump into some other concepts or I guess you know, headspace positions that we might find ourselves in, all behaviors that we might find ourselves in. The first one is flow state. Right, and flow state is a state of deep immersion in an activity or enhancing focus for an output, and basically it means, yes, obviously distractions can disrupt it, but at the same time, having a little bit of a break might actually re-aid entry, like it might actually help us as we come back into do what we were doing, just like if I'm doing, if I'm doing a long run, halfway through I might stop, have a banana, you know, have the banana and then I get back into it. Even though I've broken up that flow state, I'm able to get back into it pretty, pretty quick, and it's basically similar to what I've been talking about at the start of this was where, like I know I need to do work, but my mind's telling me I just want to do some other stuff first. Before I have to put that pressure on my brain. Rather than fight it, I go spend that energy of the brain wanting to relax and then I'm able to come back and be able to get straight back into it. Now there's these other concepts around Parkinson's law, so work feels the time available. This one's a shocker, because the more time you have due to distractions means tasks take longer. So if I know that I've got all day to get today's Sunday it's 10 o'clock at the moment I'm doing some episodes If I know that from 11 o'clock till 5 o'clock I don't have anything else on and I've got that much long time to get my listings done or to do my work or whatever I want to get done, if I'm procrastinating, if I'm doing things, I'm actually wasting time. Coming back to my original point, if I actually just spend an hour, go play some video games, then go do the work for an hour, I've spent two hours and then the rest of the day is free, whereas if I don't, I'm going to be probably end up spending three hours trying to do those listings because I'm jumping between different things, I'm getting distracted. So Parkinson's law means if it can take this long, it will, because you're giving yourself the boundaries to make that happen. We then have decision fatigue. This you know, it speaks for itself, but when we have to make a lot of decisions, it ties the brain, it makes the brain tired, which means it decreases our decision quality. And being able to break this up really means we're able to reset our headspace, our decision fatigue. It means we're able to get back to a more coherent position. And again, I mean look, just to be clear, I'm just reading this off the internet, just from the research that I found and the different points to help me realize oh, this makes so much more sense. I'm not a scientist, I'm not backing this up with anything, but I'm reading it in the sense that it's relevant and it makes sense, because you can understand it and you think this does make sense. So I do encourage you, like, if something here is pointing out to you, go have a read like go do your own research and see, maybe that's what is. You know what's causing you to be not be productive in the area that you want to be. Maybe it's some decision fatigue, maybe you're lacking flow state, or maybe it's this next one, which is ego depletion. Will power taps into limited mental energy. When depleted procrastination arises, breaks may refill this energy. So yeah, that's true. And look, I think this one's an interesting one, because when we have a willpower to get something done, we will do it, will get out and prove it to ourselves or to someone else, but then it does burn a lot of mental energy and there's a limited amount of that willpower. So when it's depleted, we then look for other things to get that hit right. So I think that's important when you are feeling this, to take the break, step away. You rock again. I think from all this I'm learning that you're better off to take the time off, to spend some time doing nothing or doing what you want to do, rather than doing the work that you are setting out to do now. I know there's two sides of this, because if you love the way that you do, you never work another day. But the reality is there's always tasks and friction points of things that we do that we don't enjoy. So you want to go into that with the best motivation, with the best mindset, refreshed and ready to get it done. So you can either inspire, you can either motivate yourself to say, okay, I'm gonna go do these things and then I'm gonna do that. We could do a bit of both. You could start off on that. Okay, I'm gonna just get it out of my system so I can just focus on doing this task and then I can do whatever else I want. So I think that's a great way to look at it to. The next one is called restore restorative environments. So environments without demands. So doing it in nature, doing it in places which rejuvenate cognitive strength. So being in these places that don't have the distractions, are able to just help you think freely. There's less things going on and even taking breaks in these environments can obviously help you rest even quicker. But this for me like sometimes even going to like a coffee shop and just having that ambient noise in the background and getting things done there. I think this is a great way to do it as well. The next one is called tasks switching. So constantly changing task drains energy to switching costs, which basically comes back to All bunch of all these things Parkinson's law, decision fatigue, ego depletion, so jumping into these procrastination spots where you're thinking that I, that's what I want to do, I don't want to do that, or someone interrupting you. Every time you switch your brain there's a level of you know time that it takes to get back into where you were. So you really need to make sure that if you are taking breaks, you do them effectively and that you do give yourself enough time to get something done before you jump onto the next thing, because it's going to take you a little bit of time to warm up, just like if you were exercising. Gonna take a little bit of time to get into a groove, into a flow. And the next one is law of diminishing returns. This one is super important Beyond a point more effort doesn't equate to better results. Breaks might counteract this decline. I think this is important because there's a time where you just keep doing, keep doing, keep doing, keep doing and you become numb to your awareness of what you're doing. You're not thinking about it. You get the decision fatigue. You start getting, you know, not focused and you could spend 10 more hours but not actually make any product in a productivity Is if you take a break for now or two hours, you might actually come back and you're able to get two hours of productivity done. So I think that's super important. I think I think, when we talk about all these things, it's really important to understand that. You know these are all different for everyone. We all will have them at some point, I guess, whether we know it or not, and it's when we can recognize these different work patterns or, I guess, these different behaviors, it's gonna be very beneficial, enabling you to, you know, set up boundaries, putting things to play of strategy in terms of how you gonna operate your day, how you gonna operate your week, and what works for you might not work for me. What works for me won't necessarily work for you either, but you do need to probably experiment on the different approaches, and the one that's been working well for me is yet just even today, like I know that I'm gonna have to do. You know I wanna get my listings done, but it's also the day where it's a day of rest. Like you know, I usually do a little less today, so maybe I need to get that out of the way first and then go do some work, but that won't work for everyone else. Some people need to, you know, dangle the camera in front of the head and, you know, chase after, you know. So with a bit of motivation. So it's gonna work differently for everyone, but I would love to hear from you. Any of these stand out to you. Do any of these do you think resonate with you and do you think any of these are relevant? I look when I look back on this and there's some really interesting things, like the law of diminishing returns, the big one, but I think the one that's super interesting is that task switching decision fatigue in Parkinson's law. Flow state I know really well. Environments is really good, because when I go out running I love being out in the environment. But this whole Zygarnik effect after doing some reading into it and looking at all these different behaviors and, I guess, some of the techniques around them, it's very, very surprising. And that's why I had that hot moment, because I realized that, hey, I need to tap into some better ways of working what works best for me, and the same thing applies to you find ways to get the best out of what you want to achieve, because you know what you require, you know your needs. You know how you operate best and in your environments and in your styles, so leverage that. Just because I'm here on internet telling you all this is what I do or this is what you should do, not saying one way in it is perfect for everyone. What I am saying is go to your own research, read through this and understand what's gonna make more sense for you. This is probably going to help you kick butt, get more productive and hopefully, hopefully see decline in you getting distracted, but that comes down to you. So let me know how you go. Chuck a comment down below if you're here on the YouTube, otherwise you can reach out. Send me a message. If you did enjoy this or you think someone needs to hear it. Give it a share. Give it a share. Send someone this way. I really do appreciate it. And if you knew here, say hi, introduce yourself down in the in the comments below here on the YouTube as well. It would mean the absolute world to me. Otherwise, this is it. It's a quick and short one. Today, folks really do appreciate you being here. You have a wonderful day, cheers.

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