Getting Things Done - GTD

'Open Loops' Should Not Be a Problem

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
tags Self-Improvement Stress-Free Focus Capture Reflect
"Anything that does not belong where it is, the way it is, is an 'open loop,' which will be pulling on your attention if it’s not appropriately managed." – David Allen

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'Open Loops' Should Not Be a Problem

Continuing with the theme of the previous post (coping with the increasing complexity of life) and digging a little deeper, the key to coping with any situation is to stay calm and focus on what is really important.

We all have the ability to think, reflect and manage situations in which it may not be clear at all what path should be followed. The problem is that this skill is often at risk due to the enormous amount of information we receive and the levels of stimulation to which we are exposed.

Studies show that most people live with moderate to extreme stress levels. Today’s hyperconnectivity, technology and, unfortunately, the culture of many companies, generate habits that may be impairing your ability to cope with daily life effectively without you really being aware of it.

If you could manage situations of overload correctly, without getting overwhelmed, and protect your attention span from constant distractions, you would be ready for anything.

Distractions are a constant hazard, you can lose countless hours a month doomscrolling through any social network. It’s very easy to fall into temptation, because while we give in to them, we put aside that uncomfortable feeling of stress and anxiety. But don’t be fooled, the feeling will come back, and even stronger, after you’ve wasted three hours on Twitter/X.

It is necessary to overcome distractions in order to create quality spaces that allow you to think, reflect, conceive ideas and implement them. Only then will you be able to get more things done, with more energy and in less time.

Ultimately, most stress is generated as a result of not properly managing the commitments you have with yourself and with others. You have probably created more commitments than you are aware of, and all of them are always hovering in the back of your mind.

In GTD, anything that appears in your life and requires some kind of decision or action on your part is called stuff. They can come from the outside world or from your own mind.

The brain tends to be aware at all times of what considers unfinished business (also called open loops or incompletes). Every time you try to relax, the brain brings those pending stuff to the surface. This is called the Zeigarnik effect.

Unfinished business is a regular part of life. It’s always there. If you ignore it, the undone items pile up and can lead to overload, which leads to stress.

You don’t need to complete all your open loops to make your brain stop dealing with them. That would be crazy. You just need to store them somewhere other than in your head. If you learn to capture them when they appear, you’ll be able to manage them properly.

GTD helps you identify and effectively manage all your pending issues before they become a problem.

Francisco Sáez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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