Creating Open Loops For Motivation


Starting open loops motivates you to close them.
Starting open loops motivates you to close them.

We hate open loops. Our brains don’t deal with them very well. Watch half a movie and the the incompletion creates a gap in your mind. You have to get the rest of the story.

Television producers understand this. They create suspense for each commercial break in order to keep you engaged. Radio hosts do it as well. The art of creating the open loop in your mind helps to keep you from tuning out.

When we have an open loop, we have to fill it. So why not use this to your advantage? You may have a list of items to get through. Your fear may keep you from starting on some projects that involve a lot of emotional and mental investment for clarity. A good strategy I like to use is to simply start. Lay out what you need. If it is writing, I start writing a paragraph and leave it at that. If it is a system implementation, I work on the framework and simply quit.

Now my mind won’t let go of the open loop. It motivates me to come back and finish off what I have started. This is a powerful motivational force that you can use repeatedly when you find yourself procrastinating.

If your project or task involves other people or their input, send a quick email to get the ball rolling. This creates momentum and engagement from everyone involved and buys a bit of time. Furthermore, it forces you to react to requests as they come back. You can keep the ball moving forward with simple bite-sized touch points and avoid being overwhelmed.

As you review the work before you, take a few minutes and start an open loop. Your motivation will kick in to have to close the loops quicker than if you simply waited for all the conditions to line up correctly.

How do you think this productivity strategy can help you?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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