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Science Says Unfinished Things Attract/Disturb You Because Your Brain Remembers Them Better

Science Says Unfinished Things Attract/Disturb You Because Your Brain Remembers Them Better

Recall a time when you were put under a lot of stress about finishing a task. Every day it went unfinished it would be a constant distraction in your head. This feeling of having slight (or crippling) anxiety of unfinished business is called The Zeigarnik Effect.

The PositiveSide OfThe Zeigarnik Effect

In layman’s terms, unfinishedbusiness can be summed up as “loose ends.” From Zeigarnik’s research, he pointed out that humans — specifically the mind of a human — does not like when things are inconclusive. It’s a natural phenomena and one reason people can become hooked to certain T.V. shows. Most season finales end with cliff hangers and it digs at the mind of a person for a long time before it is finished. It leaves them begging for more. It is why movies like Inception or American Psycho leave people bewildered at what actually happened. I am a sucker for these types of movies, by the way, which makes sense as to why I can rarely ever relax when my to-do list is constantly full. I like it that way, it makes my mind work. That is the attraction of having unfinished business, it lets the mind wander on its own and into areas of critical thinking and theory developing. Is Leonardo Dicarpio’s character in a dream or in reality? Is Patrick Bateman really a psychopath?

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The NegativeSide OfThe Zeigarnik Effect

But, unfinished business can have a detrimental aspect to it. Like I was mentioning with my work load, it can add a lot of unnecessary stress to people’s lives, especially when it has to do with work. It’s the idea of constantly being busy and never having a moment to relax because all you are thinking about is what part of the work needs to be done. It is an added pressure to find time to make sure that deadline is met or that the endless cycles of work becomes finished and checked off.

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For relationships, it also makes people feel hard to let go of ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, as your relationships with them are like unfinished business, after making so many promises and having so much imagination spending the rest of your life with them.

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This is also why the death of famous people that happen without warning are so tragic. For examples; Michael Jackson, Prince and David Bowie.

How To Manage Your Unfinished Business

This one sounds lackluster and too easy to be utilized, and it really is. To do lists! Instead of having your mind go over and over everything on your plate, write it down and set time to get it done. My laptop has sticky notes all over of what things need to get done and written by what day and it’s always there as a reminder, not a detrimental hamper. I have become more used to realizing that the pressure does not have to hinder my life. I set times apart from the rest of my days to get as much done as possible. I channel the natural positivity that can come with The Zeigarnik Effect and let my creativity ride through my work, being a busy body and cranking out the things I need to when I need too. As a journalist and a writer, my life is one constant email of deadlines and setting up articles places, so these to do lists make it a bit easier to not be overwhelmed by the massive amounts of unfinished business always — and I mean always — lurking around the corner.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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