Using the Cliffhanger Method to Get Things Done

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It’s always been drilled into our minds that when we start something, we should focus on looking at the end goal in order to be successful. The idea is that if we look at the end goal, we will be inspired to go through with things and get them done. However, one research has proven the opposite, a method called the Cliffhanger Method.¬†According to research by a psychologist by the name of Bluma Zeigarnik, tasks that are incomplete end up staying in people’s minds until they are completed – that once you start on something, your brain will have more of a drive to finish it.

Much like a cliffhanger in a movie or TV show, your mind wants to know where it will be going next. You constantly think about what left you hanging and have various ideas on what could possibly happen next. Apparently your brain does the same exact thing when you leave work or an important task unfinished – it will keep pondering the task until it’s complete. Basically, stop avoiding things you need to do and finally start them, even if you can’t necessarily finish them in one sitting. Open up that Word Document and write up some notes on thoughts you are having about a long-term project, even if it is only in bullet points at the moment.

While this method is a good one, it’s not something you can use in everything you do, like something that could be done straight through in a half hour or less. It’s more for something that you might have to take some time on. However, if there is something big and major that needs to be done, jump into it and do as much as you can until you need to stop. As long as you keep notes of where you left off and can easily get back in there to eventually finish, you’re good. After all, don’t you want to see how it turns out in the end?!

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images


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