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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(12), 1606; doi:10.3390/ijerph14121606

Ovsiankina’s Great Relief: How Supplemental Work during the Weekend May Contribute to Recovery in the Face of Unfinished Tasks

1
Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Hagen, 58084 Hagen, Germany
2
Department of Organizational and Personnel Psychology, University of Rostock, D-18051 Rostock, Germany
3
Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Trier, D-54286 Trier, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 October 2017 / Revised: 30 November 2017 / Accepted: 19 December 2017 / Published: 20 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stress and Health)
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Abstract

Unfinished tasks have been identified as a significant job stressor that impairs employee recovery after work. Classic experimental research by Ovsiankina has shown that people tend to resume yet unfinished tasks to satisfy their need for closure. We apply this notion to current working life and examine supplemental work after hours as a means to achieve peace of mind. We investigate how progress towards goal accomplishment through supplemental work may facilitate recovery in terms of psychological detachment, relaxation, autonomy, and mastery experiences. We conducted a week-level diary study among 83 employees over a period of 14 consecutive weeks, which yielded 575 observations in total and 214 matched observations of unfinished tasks, supplemental work during the weekend, progress, and recovery experiences. Unfinished tasks were assessed on Friday. Supplemental work and recovery experiences were assessed on Monday. Multilevel modeling analyses provide evidence that unfinished tasks at the end of the work week are associated with lower levels of detachment at the intraindividual level, tend to relate to lower relaxation, but are unrelated to autonomy and mastery. Progress towards finishing tasks during the weekend alleviates the detrimental effects of unfinished tasks on both kinds of recovery experiences. Supplemental work is negatively linked to detachment, but largely unrelated to the other recovery experiences. View Full-Text
Keywords: recovery; detachment; unfinished tasks; goal progress; relaxation; self-determination; autonomy need satisfaction; Ovsiankina effect; Zeigarnik effect; rumination recovery; detachment; unfinished tasks; goal progress; relaxation; self-determination; autonomy need satisfaction; Ovsiankina effect; Zeigarnik effect; rumination
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Weigelt, O.; Syrek, C.J. Ovsiankina’s Great Relief: How Supplemental Work during the Weekend May Contribute to Recovery in the Face of Unfinished Tasks. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1606.

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