Sunday, November 22, 2015

In search of concentration, and the Zeigarnik Effect

I heard about the Zeigarnik Effect for the first time today, from an article about earworms.

"In psychology, the Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks....The Zeigarnik effect suggests that students who suspend their study, during which they do unrelated activities (such as studying unrelated subjects or playing games), will remember material better than students who complete study sessions without a break." (from Wikipedia)

Back when I was consuming tons of fanfic, I got in the habit of STOPPING when the story got really good and going to do something else, probably to prolong the fun of the story. 

(pics not mine; will remove upon request)
But now I can't stop doing it. It's become almost a compulsion to put a story aside just when it's getting really interesting, which is NOT how it's supposed to work!!! 

I've lost my ability to concentrate on one thing for a long time, for which I totally blame the internet. And now I wonder if it's a vicious circle: I interrupt a task, which causes me to keep the task in my head, which causes me to stress (consciously or subconsciously) about the unfinished whatever, which makes it even harder to concentrate.

I'm trying to re-learn concentration, by forcing myself to continue with reading or doing whatever task I' working on. It helps if it's a good book (I've been catching up on Rhys Ford's Sinners and Cole McGinnis series) or if it's something at work that HAS to be done. But it's rough.

Anyone else out there have problems with concentration? I don't think I have ADD; I used to do one thing at a time for hours when i was a kid. But that was before the pretty, shiny internet, and when there were only seven channels on TV.