There are three more psychological factors I wanted to introduce briefly. These factors also help to explain how our minds work, why we sometimes default to unproductive patterns in our lives, and what the Getting Things Done (GTD) system tries to address. Understanding them can help us to make sense of how we work and the benefits we can get from practicing different principles from GTD.
The Zeigarnik effect suggests that we remember unfinished tasks better than completed ones. Open loops (eg. woulds, coulds, shoulds) pull on our attention. This can prevent us from focusing on the task at hand, and lead us to stress about things that are still left unaddressed.
Decision fatigue refers to the observation that decision quality deteriorates after long periods of decision making. Between home and work, many of us spend our days making non-stop decisions of various scale. Even when it comes to thinking about things that make us unhappy, we spend a lot of time ruminating about how we want things to be different.
Working memory refers to our short-term memory. It’s unreliable (eg. you may remember your grocery list when you leave the house, but that doesn’t mean you’ll remember it when you get to the store) and has a limited capacity (although some people can pull off impressive feats such as memorizing the order of a shuffled deck of cards, this often takes a lot of practice and methods that tap into other memory systems).