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: