I’ve written before about the importance of closing the loop as quickly as possible. To briefly summarize, whenever we become aware of an issue or problem in our lives, it creates an open loop in our mind. There’s a part of our head space that is dedicated to the open loop, even as we are doing other things. If we have a bunch of open loops going in our mind, it’s hard to relax. Because of this, it’s important to close loops as quickly as we can. It’s also critical to NOT open loops unless we have the time and energy to close the loop. (This is why you shouldn’t check your work email when you aren’t at work, for example.)
But sometimes, even if we are disciplined, we might find ourselves in a situation where we have an open loop, but we can’t close it right away. What should we do in these cases? Is there a way to experience peace even if we have an open loop in our mind?
Schedule a Time to Close the Loop
One strategy that has been helpful for me is to schedule a time to close the loop and write it down. For example, let’s say we become aware of a work issue we need to deal with, but it’s Saturday morning. We’d prefer to be present with our family this weekend instead of worrying about the work issue. But the loop is open, and we can’t close the loop until next week when we go to the office. The solution is to schedule a time to deal with the work issue. Maybe you can think about the work issue on Monday morning at 8am. Write it down in your planner, so you know you won’t forget. In this way, you haven’t technically closed the loop, but you have scheduled a time in the future to close the loop. Because of this, your mind can rest.
Another example is keeping a notecard by your bed to write down any anxious thoughts you might have. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I’m worrying about something. However, I can’t do anything to close the loop on my worry—I’m in bed! All that is happening is I’m struggling to fall asleep. But if I write down my worry, and promise that I will get to it tomorrow, my mind can rest.
Bottom line: If you can’t close a loop right away, schedule a time in the future to close the loop, and write it down in your planner.