!Remember the Zeigarnik effect? Get your team to accomplish their tasks

!Remember The Zeigarnik Effect? Get Your Team To Accomplish Their Tasks

Share This Post

A Million Things Half Done!

At this very moment, thousands of floors are being paced, back and forth, forth and back.
Upset folks are shaking their heads, mumbling when they should be listening,
and sweating buckets when they ought to be sleeping – all due to the ceaseless haunting of tasks undone.

“The pleasure of wanting something is often greater than the pleasure of getting it,
and almost every wish that comes true is a disappointment.”
Samuel Johnson

In the 1920s, a psychologist named Bluma Zeigarnik visited a restaurant and found a unique thing about that restaurant.
The restaurant servers didn’t carry any notebooks to take the orders.
They memorized every order until the meal had been served and the payment had been made.
But as soon as the payment was made, they forgot all the order details. 

She suspected something was going on, dedicated years to researching the phenomenon, and came up with a hypothesis.
This hypothesis has been named Zeigarnik effect after its founder, Bluma Zeigarnik.
This phenomenon is a double-edged sword, and you can utilize this phenomenon to remember more without using memory tricks,
achieve your goal or beat procrastination.


The Zeigarnik Effect states that people tend to remember interrupted or incomplete tasks more quickly than the task that has been completed.
If you have unfinished tasks or anything you want to do but have no idea what to do about it, Zeigarnik Effect comes to play.
Thought about those tasks will come popping up in your mind.

This can be a double-edged sword.
You will invest precious mental energy thinking about those tasks unconsciously, and your brain will work in the background,
figuring out how to complete the tasks. It can be mentally distracting or solution-giving insights based on your approach.

Taking Advantage Of The Zeigarnik Effect And Its Positive Implications 

Twilight Zone before end Zone: This says that you should always think about the need to finish.
Most people have an innate drive to finish what they start. Let people finish projects; if they can’t, show understanding and make up for it.

If you want to help people get things done and be more engadged for finishing tasks, help them think about the end first.

  • What will we demo at the end of the sprint?
  • What do we wish to achieve at the end of this meeting?
  • What will be accomplished at the end of this day

**Bringing the end to our awareness will make us eager to complete the task

    • Do not finish culturally important things: Most people will tend to pay attention to things that aren’t done,
      which is why important projects should never reach their end.
      As for a team safety programs, personal growth, and knowledge improvements should have marked milestones,
      but they should also be ongoing so that everyone can keep their benefits in the back of their minds.
    • Remember that day we were all so smart: Celebrate your team and personal accomplishments for a long time because these days are quickly forgotten in the busyness of life,
      and few people take the time to enjoy that good winning feeling (especially true in difficult times).
      Let’s even the odds by spending more time at the home of our completed tasks.
      This will help us remember what we still need to do.

      • Achieve a Goal If you want to achieve anything, set a goal. This doesn’t mean that by just setting a goal,
        you will achieve everything magically.
        It means that your brain will be working subconsciously on the ways to achieve the goals.

It’s like, you suddenly start noticing the same car everywhere the moment you decide to buy that specific car,
or you start seeing dogs around the moment you decide that you are going to adopt a puppy.
The universe is not magically plotting these things; these things were there even before. But you never paid attention to it.
Once you decide to have a puppy, your brain unconsciously becomes more vigilant towards any dog. You tend to see more dogs everywhere you look. 

  • Therefor if you want your team to achieve the sprint goal , let them be exposed to those goals in an ongoing manner.
    Let them be part of preparing the backlog, planning the sprint, building their tasks and user stories according to their goals.

So set a goal with your team and let the magic of the Zeigarnik Effect work in your favor, showing you the path by becoming more vigilant towards anything related to your goal.

Aim for Greatness, not Perfection (Especially for Perfectionists)

Perfectionists work hard but often put things off until the last minute.
Why? Because their need to be perfect scares them and makes it hard for them to start or finish a task.

“To be perfect” means “to be perfect, which is the most desirable thing that can be thought of.
” Perfect is hard to imagine, let alone reach unless it is a simple multiple-choice test.

Excellence, on the other hand, means “having the higher quality or being very good.
” This is easier to picture and more likely to come true.
Trying to be the best is also a bigger idea. Who knows where your skills, goals, and successes could take you?

Many very successful teams didn’t know they would get to where they are now.
They just worked hard and took advantage of the chances that came their way.
On the other hand, trying to be perfect keeps you comparing your work to some vague standard that may only make sense to you.

“Always do your best” is something most perfectionists heard as kids.
This sounds like good advice; however, it doesn’t always work out in real life.
You can’t do your best in everything because you don’t have enough time, energy, or resources in your busy life.
So, kindly choose how you want to spend your time and energy. Then, try to do your best. Don’t try to be the best.

  • Beat Procrastination

If you procrastinate on some projects, the first thing to do is start working on them,
however small you start. And because of the Zeigarnik Effect,
you will spend mental energy thinking and worrying about it, and hopefully, ultimately, you will complete the project.

  • Long due date projects will generate the opposite effect. No one will be in a sense of urgency to finish them since they are to heavy to deal with in our brain. 
  • Work with small projects with early time line. A sprint is a good “timeline” flag for any ” project” you wish to get a sense of urgency too.
  • Change “I’ll try to” to “I will” and mean it
    Listen to how you talk. If you’re like most dreamers, you often say things that aren’t clear.
    Some examples:
    “I’ll try to get together with my teammates.”

    “I’ll try to clean up my mess of papers.”


  • I the team daily standup insist of describing your daily tasks as “what will be accomplished today” instead on “I will work on XX today”
  • Focus More on the Facts and Less on Your Feelings
    When you put things off, they mostly get worse. Why? Because things happen when you care more about how you feel and less about what you know.
    Feelings are important, of course. But thoughts are the same. So, it would help if you tried to find a good balance between the two.


If you focus on the facts and not on how you feel, your assumptions are more likely to match up with reality.
Here’s how a person who causes a crisis might jump to a wrong conclusion based on what he wants it to be instead of what it is.

Insist on Definition of done and definition of ready for your team sprint, user stories and tasks.
This way, the facts will lead the way to what  “done ” is and make it easier to focus and accomplish in an accountable manner their tasks

Tip 6: You can’t do everything, so figure out what’s most essential and learn to say NO (Especially for People Who Try Too Hard to Please

Over doers work very hard, but not in a smart way. So, work keeps piling up. When they have too much to do,
they put things off as a way to “say no.” Here are some ways to effectively make use of your time:

  • Set your task board to reflect reality – visualize
  • Set no more then 2 tasks for each person a day
  • Make sure the backlog is ordered and followed according to its order (top user stories are to be done first, and more important then bottom list user stories)

Promote Mental Well-Being

The Zeigarnik effect can make you feel better. It can also help people get through these kinds of problems.
People are more likely to finish what they start after thinking about it. When these tasks are done,
they can give you a sense of accomplishment, self-respect, and confidence. Below are few ways you can improve your mental well-being:

References :

Samuel Johnson From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zeigarnik effect From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Disclaimer: The views shared here are my own. Assistance from a language model was employed for organizing and summarizing my thought. Some of the accompanying images were created using AI technology.
Featured Image: !Remember The Zeigarnik Effect? Get Your Team To Accomplish Their Tasks

More To Explore

Accelerate your business

Fill out the form to get started today!

Skip to content