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Jan 8 2007

Open Loops, Managing Action, and Getting Things Done

Well, Chapter One is through. definitely food for thought!

One of the most valuable thoughts that i will take away from this chapter is the one about Open Loops. In the other time management and productivity books I have read, I have never seen mention of this principle. Other books I have read are all normally about creating a “system” that you can work to so that you keep track of all your tasks, with the all either nicely color coded or prioritized into As, Bs, and Cs. The As get done first followed by the Bs, and Cs.

Open Loops are defined in the Getting Things Done book as:

An Open Loop is anything pulling at your attention that doesn’t belong where it is, the way it is.

So, Open Loops can include large tasks such as planning a wedding right down to smaller tasks such as posting a letter. The reason these are called Open Loops, is that most of these are just that, Open!

The chapter goes on to explain about the mental, stress inducing pull that these items have on the individual. I for one, can testify the truth in this. I have my existing systems of allocating tasks, both personal and business to myself. I try to keep on top of these tracks but it is amazing how your tracking of these can slip from time to time, or you sit at your desk trying to remember the task that you thought about the evening prior, but cannot remember it for the life of you. I am sure you, as I , have been here. All of these items prey on your mind, and cause the stress we all feel from day to day. Throw the next days Open Loops into this and it is easy to see how people feel very overwhelmed in a very short time.

The GTD book outlines a system that is to be taught in coming chapters where you empty your mind of any task related thoughts. You are able to do this as you build a system that you trust, that is outside of your thought pattern in which you keep and track your tasks. Keeping them away from your head. You manage action, not the task. You allocate the next required step for every task as we cannot do tasks, we do actions, and every task is a collection of actions.

I am intrigued, this sounds great. I am looking forward to the coming chapters that will outline exactly what this wonderful GTD methodology is!

Here are a couple of good reading links related to Chapter One of the GTD Book:

  • 7 Comments... What do you think?
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  1. Ondrei said on December 13th, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Hey guys,
    some interesting concepts being expressed however everyone is forgetting about the best tool ever invented for this sort of problems. Its called a pen and never let me down
    I got used to plan everything in my live by writing it down – it help not just to remind yourself of tasks but also help not to forget on the fist place

  2. What To Do When You Quit - from Creating a Better Life said on January 31st, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    [...] The series has been an open loop in my life for too long. Something needs to be done with it. [...]

  3. [...] in my life since starting following the Getting Things Done Methodology, is the reduction of Open Loops. As we all know, Open Loops are those tasks floating around in the ether, [...]

  4. [...] you go on vacation, I feel that it is imperative that your Open Loops are [...]

  5. [...] full ability whilst away, making a lot of notes and collecting every thought I had to ensure all my Open Loops were [...]

  6. [...] different this week in that it is a link to one of my older GTD blog posts. This post covers Open Loops and is one of the most popular posts on my whole blog. If you have not already read this blog post [...]

  7. Taking My Glasses Off « Tie And Jeans said on November 9th, 2011 at 1:13 am

    [...] out and put aside for a few minutes when something else intruded. In GTD lingo, I think these are Open Loops. They’re the miasma of stuff, unformed and unstructured, the dust splattered on my productive [...]

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