# Zeigarnik Effect

Zeigarnik effect is a psychological tendency to occupy our short term memory with unfinished tasks than completed tasks. It explains why we are distracted easily by thoughts of unfinished tasks.

# References

Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes (p. 69).

Here, we have to thank Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik for her insight and observational skills. The story goes that she went for lunch with her colleagues and was very impressed by the waiter's ability to remember correctly who ordered what without the need to write anything down. It is said that she had to go back to the restaurant to get the jacket she left there. Much to her surprise, the waiter she admired just minutes ago for his great memory didn't even recognise her.

  • Writing allows us to deliberately forget
    • We have Working memory limits, therefore making sure that we can populate our working memory with what's relevant in the current circumstances is necessary for us to be effective. Unfortunately we don't really have a full control over what we have in our working memory, other irrelevant thoughts might linger (like open tasks) and will reduce our ability to focus. (See also: Zeigarnik Effect)
  • Attentional habits
    • Attentional habits are the Psychic energy that we spend not by our own intention. Attentional habit could formed by either biological or social instructions. Cognitive bias bias is probably a good example of how our attention could be spent not consciously by our choice. Zeigarnik Effect, for example, would take our attention to unfinished tasks.