Do you know about open loops?
Open loops are all those unfinished tasks or items running around your head. For example, a course you haven’t finished or a bill payment to be made.
They can also be something unresolved, such as a debt to be paid by you or to you.
What about those ideas or future projects you want to do? Those can also be open loops.
Our mind is full of them. Lots and lots of open loops.
These open loops are draining, and your mind is holding onto these unfinished, unresolved items, which take up space.
The process I will share with you today can be done whenever you feel overwhelmed, and I call this process clearing the decks.
Although clearing the decks can be done at any time, I like the idea of scheduling time each year to do this process—like a spring cleaning of the brain.
Clearing the decks frees up your energy, allowing you to focus on the most critical tasks. We do this by gathering all the open loops and then putting them through your process so you have a way to manage them.
Start by gathering all the open loops.
At least once a year, schedule three hours to do this process. Put a recurring meeting to do this in your calendar now. I like tying it in with spring as part of spring cleaning. It could also be done as part of an annual planning process. You can also do a mini clear the deck when overwhelmed.
To gather all your open loops, write down all the tasks, actions, unfinished projects, ideas, and information you think you need to review or complete. This list should be exhaustive, and don’t leave anything out.
When gathering your list, think about the different areas of your life. Open loops can be found in the areas of your:
You can also ask yourself the following questions when putting your list together:
Once you have your list, you need to manage the list.
I like to manage the list in three steps.
Step 1: Can you close the loop indefinitely?
Review each item on the list and ask yourself if it is important. If the answer is no. consciously decide to “trash the item” or close the loop.
If it is important, ask yourself if it is worth your time or energy.
For example, there was a loan that a business associate owed my husband. A lien had been placed on their house, and the time came when we had to decide if we would renew the lien or let it go. This was an open loop, and the chances of recovering the funds were slim. For the sake of his energy and focus, the decision was to close the loop. We agreed to “forgive” the loan and closed the loop.
Step 2: Determine if the item can be shifted
With the items remaining, ask yourself if this is something you can assign to someone else.
Can you shift the item so someone else?
If you can, shift it. And then, if you want to follow up on it, set up a reminder to follow up.
Step 3: Determine when you will take care of this item and then capture it
When will you action this item?
Consider if this is something you want to action, look into or manage in the future, the next month, or the next week.
Remember, this process is about cleaning out the energy drain; it’s not about doing all the tasks on the list.
Put it in your parking lot or other future tasks list if it is a future item. The key is to capture it so your brain is no longer holding it and using up energy.
If you want to manage it in the next month or week, determine how much time you will need and put it in your calendar or on your list of things to do.
For those items you want to do in the next month or week, you may want to capture the very next step so you know how to start acting on the item.
Once you have finished this process, your mind should feel lighter.
I recommend doing this at least once a year. But remember, you can do this whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.
The key is having a system to capture the items you will action—a system you trust and a system that will not allow you to lose the task. Otherwise, you will unconsciously have difficulty letting go of the open loops.
Will you schedule some time to gather your open loops?
Nothing is more burdensome than an unfinished task.Jim Rohn
Nothing is more burdensome than an unfinished task.
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