After my little moan on yesterday evening’s post, I took a brief check back in with the process of closing “Open Loops” – or at least getting them down on paper.
Open Loops were (as far as I know) first described by David Allen in his Getting Things Done book. I am a complete sucker for reading about “Life Hacks” and Life Instructions, so I devoured this book with much glee a few years back. I spent a few months filled with motivation and putting all the concepts into practice before I dropped it all and went “flumpf”. As with many of these things, the instructions are so prescriptive that it becomes a life style, or even nearly like a religion to keep going with it all. But that’s not to say there aren’t benefits to some of the concepts (or even all of them in small doses), and Open Loops is definitely one of them.
It’s pretty simple. The idea is that if you have something you need to get done, but you can’t do it again, it will cause lots of stress and turmoil in your mind because you have to keep juggling it around in there to ensure you don’t forget it. But if you track it somewhere, then the loop can be closed in your mind, because it’s open on paper. The downside can be that you start to forget things because you rely on the paper (or electronic) record, and you don’t check in on it enough. So, to make this a reliable tool to add into your life, you need to develop a system of pretty regularly checking through everything you need to get done, or have on your mind in some fashion.
Yesterday evening I was starting to feel overwhelmed by all the (mostly small – but starting to get numerous) requests and commitments that had come pouring in over the course of the day – and were still going into the evening. The nice thing about such a list is that it enables you to actually make a choice about what you’re going to give time to, rather than just going “bugger all this” and doing nothing, or working on whatever appeals most at the moment, but avoiding possibly more important tasks because of some sub-conscious road-block.
So, I got some stuff done, and then nearly immediately squandered the advantage I had brought to myself by spending a couple of hours reading news and other Internet articles.
The political news from America at the moment is pretty compelling. It feels difficult to not check in on it several times a day. I realise that it’s not really adding value to my life though. I can guarantee that nowhere on the list of open loops I recorded last night did I put “Check Trump’s Twitter-feed”. And yet, that’s what I spent far too long on last night.
You know when I was wondering what my “reward” would be in the place of alcohol and food? And it seems Internet is up there as an option.
I don’t want this concept of “rewards” in my life and in my brain anymore. Anything that would fill that role (as it stands) is going to be something that is ultimately less than valuable, something that takes me out of my life and drags me down into the fog of inattention. Because – as it stands – my idea of a reward for getting through the day is to check out of my life in some fashion.
I claim that I have no time to draw, or declutter, or any number of other things that I’ve identified as important to me. And yet I have time to waste reading about an orange waste of space on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s not like I couldn’t just spend 10 minutes catching up on the main points of news in the evening. I am not adding anything to my life by obsessively checking to see if there’s new, entertaining breaking-news or opinion.
I won’t miss the news if it comes.
I don’t currently know if that space is open to using for drawing or any of those other things right now. By 10 pm I’m pretty exhausted. So maybe the solution is sleep, right? I could barely open my eyes this morning again when my alarm went off, and I’m going for an extra “coffee day” because of how sleepy I’m feeling. If I’d spent those extra two hours getting sleep instead of wasting time Internetting, there would have been more time this morning and I would have woken up more refreshed.
Maybe it sounds like I’m scolding myself here. I guess I am, but mildly. I just want to wake myself up a little bit to the consequences of my actions. I’m hoping that might help me make better choices in the future.
But change takes time, so it probably won’t be immediate. Now … I wonder how Trump is polling this morning?