At some point all of us have fallen into the trap of neglecting to set an end point for our work. In doing so we set ourselves up for exhaustion and burnout. Avoid this by closing your open loops.
Photo by Dave-F.
It's important to work with a finite and attainable goal in mind whether you're working a project for your business or a project around your home. Working towards a nebulous and distant goal ensures not only that you'll never be fully clear on when you've reached it but also that you'll never be able to stop. Scott Young highlights the danger of the working without an immediate goal:
Running this blog could easily be an open-ended task if I let it. There is no requirement for me to write a certain amount of times each week. There are no guidelines for how much optimization work I need to do. There aren't any clear lines to say what is "enough".
If I ran this blog as an open loop, I'd never feel I needed to stop. There would always be more work to do, so until I drove myself to exhaustion I would always feel guilty that I should be working more. I refuse to have guilt in my relaxation time.
My solution was simply to close all the ends of the tasks in running this blog. Each week I set up a specific to-do list which outlines the number of posts I plan to write, optimizations I want to carry out and work that needs to be done on projects. When that to-do list is finished, I stop.
It sounds elementary enough, but in today's world where work isn't simply something we do for eight hours, five days a week, at a fixed location with tools and material that can't come home with us, it's all too easy to fall into the trap of the constantly working and often times doing so ineffectively because of exhaustion and burnout.
This week make it a point to search out as many open loops as possible so that whatever your free time looks like—getting off work at the end of the day, the entire weekend off, a break from being on call—will be more relaxing and regenerative.
Have your own methods, tips, and tricks for dealing with open loops? Let's hear about them in the comments.
Relax Without Feeling Lazy: Kill Open Loops [via Scott Young]