If you have a to do list that seems to have no end, you are probably suffer from Open Loop Syndrome.
Open Loop Syndrome is the mental to do list that your brain is constantly running. As you go through your day it adds to it and keeps all these items running on a loop in the back of your mind.
It's the unanswered Whats App message, the unopened emails, the constant notifications on your phone, the family member 'you must call'. You may think of these things for only a minute, but until they are resolved your brain keeps running them in the background, like open tabs on your laptop.
It can take up a lot of your mental energy to run all these tabs in the background and without even realising it, it can cause you a gentle hum of anxiety throughout the day and even in to the night.
Ever had a really boring dream where you just get all the little tasks done? That's your mind trying to resolve the problem.
Why Does It Happen?
The increased pace of life has made us into a multitasking culture. Multitasking is often an illusion of getting several things done at once but it's another energy suck. The time is takes to constantly switch between tasks (know as context switching) drains our energy. It takes us time to get into the flow of a new task. So while we feel like we are being productive by going back and forth between tasks, the reality is we are not working to the best of our abilities on account of the energy we lose to switch tasks.
Add in Open Loop Syndrome and you have a brain that is overloaded with hundreds of open tabs and running on low energy for the tasks it is doing.
How Can We Resolve Open Loop Syndrome?
We need to retrain ourselves to focus on one task at a time. Be honest, how many tabs do you have open right now? Close all but the one you are working in and see how that feels.
That's what you need to do for your brain too.
There are a few things we can do to reduce the open tabs in our minds.
1. Brain Dump
Get out a piece of paper or a digital list and literally brain-dump every task that comes to mind, like this.
-Call my sister back
-Buy mom a birthday present
-Book the NCT
-Follow up on my sales leads etc
I like to divide mine into 'Personal Open Loops' and "Business Open Loops'.
The act of writing it down helps close the tab out of your brain and the energy that was being used to keep that running on a loop in the background can now be put to better use.
2. Set Aside 30 Minutes A Day To Tackle The Open Loop List
Now that you have it all neatly on a page and out of your brain you need to get them ticked off so that they don't creep back into your brain.
Putting aside 15 - 30 minutes a day is plenty of time to attend to them. Some days you might get through three things (call my sister, buy mom a birthday present, book NCT) and other days it will just be the one task (follow up on sales leads).
The more you get into the habit of doing this the quicker they will disappear off your list.
3. Outsource It
Once you've been doing step one and two for a while you might start to notice there are Open Loop activities that are not really the best use of your time. This is a good opportunity to consider outsourcing.
You don't have to be running a huge business to outsource tasks, in fact, the quicker you can adopt the idea of outsourcing tasks the faster your business will grow.
You can start by outsourcing the repetitive tasks that you don't enjoy, that take up your time.
The first thing I outsourced was my meal prep. Instead of shopping for food and spending time cooking I decided to outsource it to Clean Cut Meals, who deliver healthy meals to my door, meaning I just got a chunk of time back!
Open Loop Tools
To get started on creating your own Open Loop List, you really don't need much more than pen and paper. But if you're more digital in your approach to things, then I would recommend you use Trello.
Trello is a productivity tool. You can use it any way you want. I use it to plan my week and keep track of my Open Loops. You can set up a free Trello account and create a weekly board for all your activities and as part of that add in an Open Loop Card. See how I set my own up below.
Energy management and time management go hand in hand towards increasing your productivity and getting you closer to your goals, faster.
Pay attention to what is consuming your time and your energy and set yourself up for success.
What Is Open Loop Syndrome? It's the mental to do list that your brain is constantly running, like several open tabs on your computer.
Why Is It A Problem? It drains your mental energy and focus away from the tasks you need to do.
How Can We Solve It? 1. Brain Dump your Open Loop List. 2. Set aside 30 mins a day to tick things off that list. 3. Outsource what you can.
Digital Tools - I use Trello to keep a digital track of my Open Loops, it's free and highly recommended!
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