Happiness Hack #1: Tackling Overwhelm with the Open Loops List

I’ve found that one of the biggest factors that adversely affect my peace of mind are “open loops”.

Unfinished business.

Stuff piling up in email inboxes, to-do lists, in-trays, online productivity tools or just in your head.

Stuff you said you’d do, but never got to.

This month’s Happiness Hack aims to help limit the often unseen, but generally negative effects of these open loops.

1. Get all the open loops together (think of it as an “Open Loop Party”)

The list should preferably be written down, on real paper with a real pen.

(The Internet is amazing for many things, but there’s something about the touch of pen and paper which has a direct connection with your brain.)

2. Beside each item, write down what it might take to “close the loop”

It might take a 1-minute phone call or a quick text.

It might take half a day of your time. It might require a trip halfway around the world. Right now, tt doesn’t really matter what it takes. You don’t need to close them all, because…

3. The point of this exercise is not to close all the loops

That would be way too ambitious! No, the point is to collect them all together, out of your head. Your brain will thank you for defragging it

Of course, if you can close some or even most of them easily, go right ahead and do it.

But what I found is that the act of writing down the open loop, and thinking about it rationally for a few seconds, suddenly made it seem much less troublesome. You’ll possibly find that several open loops are not important enough to worry about. So you can go ahead and close them, without needing to do anything more.

This Open Loops exercise might take a focused hour. It might take a day.

Either way, I know it will be time well spent.

If you do the exercise, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Either email me by reply, or post or message me on my new Facebook page – link below.

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