“When you go to the effort to make a prioritized list of what you need to do the next day, you’re essentially opening a loop in your mind. As you sleep, your brain will automatically start preparing for the successful closing of those loops. It’s known as the ‘Zeigarnik Effect.’ In the 1920s, Russian psychology researcher Bluma Zeigarnik quantified the phenomenon after her professor, Kurt Lewin, noticed that waiters who hadn’t been paid for an order had much more recall of the details of those orders than they did for orders that had been paid. Working from Zeigarnik’s research, Lewin came up with the concept of ‘task-specific-tension,’ which persists in both the conscious and subconscious mind until the task is completed.

In other words, the mind doesn’t like unfinished business! High-level mathematicians and successful writers have been using this technique for years as a tool for pushing their work forward. Before going to bed, they take a few minutes to read over the mathematical or literary work they did during the day—especially if they’ve reached a plateau or feel stuck. The mind then works all night to close the loop, and they wake up in the morning with ‘inspiration.’ It seems magical, but it isn’t so much magical as it is the result of the effective priming of the mental pump.”
– Jason Selk with Matthew Rudy

from Organize Tomorrow Today

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