Watch out for the “zeigarnik effect” to avoid burnout

Administration, work, shopping, doing chores, cleaning… Sometimes daily life comes down to a list of things you don’t have time for and that get stuck in your head. This accumulating mental load has a name: the zeigarnik effect. We explain everything to you.

The zeigarnik effect is the tendency to better remember a task that one has started and that has been interrupted. “Even without knowing the name, many people suffer from it”, analyzes the psychologist Amélia Lobbé, author of the book Overcome depression and burnout (Leduc editions).

The Zeigarnik effect is the legacy of psychologist Bljuma Zeigarnik who theorized about it in the 1920s. Sitting at a cafe table, she noticed that waiters can take complex orders and then remember them until they take orders. Then that information comes out of their heads. She confirms this intuition with a clinical study.

“It can lead to burnout”

How do you know if you have this condition? “Having a tendency to not let go of work and feeling pressured because you can’t finish everything are symptoms”, explains Amelia Lobbé. But it can also apply to everyday life. For example, take care of administrative documents or even plan holidays. this accumulation “can lead to burnout”.

In particular, this disorder is caused by social pressures that encourage each person to multiply activities, at the risk of not completing any of them. ‘Children can suffer too’, warns Amélia Loubbé, who advises parents not to fill their children’s agendas too much. “It is better to devote yourself completely to one activity than to do four halfway through”, she explains.

How do you get out of the zeigarnik effect?

This condition mainly affects disorganized people. The professional encourages the practice of “batch work”, a way of organizing. The idea is to condense an activity over a period of time. For example, two hours on a Saturday morning to do the paperwork. “It frees the mind and saves time”, explains the specialist.

The second solution proposed by the psychologist is to use the “Kanban method”. Again, this is a way of organizing. The idea is to create a table with three columns “to do – in progress – done”. Then list the things to do there by re-recording them in order of progression. This table can be done on a computer or on a sheet.

Finally, Amélia Lobbé advises “to disconnect your private and professional life and learn to compartmentalise”.

She encourages you to feel kindness towards her and relearn to be passionate about her personal life.

(ETX Daily Up)

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