Graeme Newell

Ovsiankina Effect

Our brain craves closure. This compels us to start things, hate them, then bizarrely struggle through to the bitter end.

-We finish up that bad novel even though we hate it.

-We eat every bite of that mediocre dessert.

-We complete that work project, despite the fact we know it’s destine to fail.

-We endure the entire interview process, even after we discover the job would be abysmal.

Brain researchers asked participants to solve a tricky puzzle, but before the participants could finish up, they were interrupted, and told the study was over. Everyone could go home. 90% of the participants continued to work on the puzzle anyway.

The Ovsiankina Effect compels us to prolong our own suffering, but there’s good news. We can use this cognitive bias to short circuit another bad habit – procrastination.

Procrastination has us pushing back the start of irksome projects. But once we start, the Ovsiankina Effect can help compel us to finish. So here’s the trick: START those procrastinated tasks, but then immediately STOP.

Need to clean out the garage? Open the garage door, remove one thing, then stop. Need to read that dull work article? Read the first paragraph and then stop.

It’s a powerful way to short circuit procrastination. By making the start SUPER EASY, the Ovsiankina Effect and our need for closure can help us get those nagging tasks finally accomplished.