"Open loops" describe any project or focus that's taking up space in your mind. David Allen, who coined the term, contends that we drain our energy by subconsciously trying to track and remember all of our next actions. Can you relate?
Without a system to capture, store and organize my open loops (for me, this consists of project lists, to-do lists and my calendar), the narrative in my brain tends to sound something like this:
Exhausting to read, isn't it?
While the details may differ, chances are good that you've got your own version of mental chatter. You can begin to plug the energy drain caused by trying to track it all. Here's a 10-minute exercise to get you started on Allen's path to Getting Things Done.
Try This Today:
Grab a piece of paper, set a timer for 10 minutes, and list--as quickly as you can--any and every open loop in your personal, professional and creative life. Put everything down, no matter how trite, long-rang or irrelevant.
Getting your open loops down on paper (and out of your head) will free up mental real estate and energize you.
Bonus: Put a small tick mark beside each action that would take you two minutes to complete. Go through the list and do as many of these two-minute actions as you can.
Keep your list handy and come back for a new post on "Processing Your Inputs," the important second step of Allen's productivity method.
Until then, gather, name and list your open loops. Enjoy the freedom you'll feel when you've taken this critical first step.