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Close your open loops

So it was Dec 6 or something when I realized that the year is nearly at its end. Since I like to do a lot of different things, there are several open ends which I do not want to take into the new year. A) because, and B) there are new things and ideas waiting.

There is the concept of an "open loop". It means that your mind can only keep so many in-progress things in overview. Once that number is reached and you add more, your brain literally suffers a buffer overflow.

I like it as an analogy. It also relates very well to "limited work-in-progress" you might have heard from the Kanban-folks.

The question was then, how do I close all those open loops?

And the answer is the same as to most things: by opening iA Writer and start hammering. In this case: first make an inventory.

The basic question is: Is there anything to do about this project before I could archive it?

If the answer is yes, it goes on the list.

Now let's call those things a project and start planning:

Break it down into very small steps – the magic keyword is "dependencyless". The question is: Is this task doable without any prework or other condition? That prework would then be another task. It needs more prework? Another task.

Here's an example: We very recently did the "GitHub from Scratch" workshop. I was aware that there are some receipts to collect and stuff, and that we wanted to get some more feedback from attendees, but of course I had procrastinated all that for more than a week. When writing down "send feedback form" under "do clearing", it dawned on me what all the small taks are that are actually needed:

  • draft questions for the feedback
  • draft form on wufoo
  • ask team if okay
  • post into meetup

The clearance is even worse:

  • find and collect all receipts
  • scan receipts
  • upload files to trello
  • make spreadsheet with over view who paid what and who gets what type of invoice
  • communicate about invoice details
  • write invoices
  • send invoices
  • check for incoming payments

I highly doubt that this will be finished within the year. Ugh.

All in all I have about half a dozen such open ends, though some of them are very different.

I may not finish them all before new year's eve. But at least I know what needs to be done.

So go. Write your list. Make 2014 a fresh start!