BOOK EXCERPT | The Principles of Productivity: Close Open Circuits
“If you don’t practice pre-emptive problem solving, you’ll
be forced to practice reactionary damage-control.”
Here’s an excerpt from chapter 5 of my book, How to Conquer Yourself: Discipline & Willpower for the Conscious, Creative Thinker.
In this section, “Close Open Circuits,” I talk about being in the habit of fixing problems while they’re still small; that if you let external obligations stack up on you, you’ll be made stationary by the excess weight they compound. Take a look…
Close Open Circuits
Technically speaking, an open circuit is an electrical system with a gap in it causing the circuit to malfunction and the current to thus no longer flow. Metaphorically speaking however, here, an open circuit is a piece of unfinished business – a gap created by not finalizing what you began – which can then cause your own plans to malfunction by creating drainage or leakage in your “circuit of affairs.”
The habit of leaving circuits open, of leaving…
>> problems unsolved
>> agreements unmet and
>> obligations incomplete
…will undermine your productivity in hundreds of subtle, indiscreet ways, because the commitments we postpone tend to nag at our subconscious and dissipate our attention while the commitments we completely ignore tend to resurface in the future, drawing us away from our main objectives in life.
So even though the section prior stressed the exact opposite (disregarding the nonessential and letting things go) there’s a tendency here to act on either side of two extremes: to either be an octopus who acts as though they have eight legs with which to do any and everything, or a total recluse who acts as though they can simply meditate their responsibilities out of existence; neglecting issues as if they’ll resolve themselves “Hakuna Matata” style. This section speaks to the latter…
In essence, no matter what you do or who you become, certain elements of your past will always remain with you. Similarly, no matter how streamlined or efficient your work process becomes, there’ll always be minor, peripheral side-concerns which you’re forced to address. So unless you want your burdens coming back to haunt you – anything random or trivial sabotaging your entire operation – get into the habit of fixing problems while they’re still small, thinking long-term and of always being on point.
Even Race Cars in the Daytona 500
…even race cars in the Daytona 500 or hovercrafts in the video game F-Zero stop periodically to check their engines and maintain their vehicle, or otherwise slow down to maneuver through course obstacles and other competitors, so think of yourself and your ambitions in a similar way: while productivity’s about accelerating towards a single destination, that doesn’t mean it’s wise to exist in your own shell or simply avoid the outlying, tangential concerns of life (like your health, for instance).
Again, close your open circuits; always treat unfinished business with a laser-like quality of attention until it’s completely resolved…
>> If you feel a slight pain in your body, don’t ignore it until you’re forced to go to the doctor.
>> If you notice a negative habit in a group project or in a relationship, don’t neglect it because it’s small.
>> If you have a problem with someone you’re required to be around, or someone you care for, talk to them about things honestly, officially square the issue away, so as to clear your mind of the concern.
…and so on, because slight pains and small issues like these, left unaddressed, tend to amplify and accrue (like financial interest) until they become considerable pains and significant issues (like financial debt) that are much more difficult to take care of.
If you don’t practice preemptive problem-solving, you’ll be forced to practice reactionary damage-control, so take a second to think about the subtle threats that you’re currently neglecting – which you truly know you can’t delegate or avoid – and be productive in addressing them no different than your most meaningful aim.
Again, don’t let external obligations stack up on you; if you do, you’ll soon become frozen and made stationary by the weight they compound.
Whether you’re conscious of it or not, open circuits create gaps in your mental clarity, demands on your physical energy and unnecessary strains on your emotional poise, so make a conscious decision to bring each of your affairs to finality – either see issues through to the end or terminate your involvement altogether, but never let them dwindle or perpetuate indefinitely…” ~ fin