An open loop is an actionable information item that is not yet clarified and organized. Open loops are detrimental to productivity due to the Zeigarnik effect, so we need to close them.

If it’s a task that can be done in two minutes, finish it (see david allen’s Two-minute rule). If the task is more time-consuming, Close open loops by externalizing them. Write them down as Fleeting notes and put them in an Inboxes to capture fleeting notes, where you can easily retrieve them for review on a later time. However, if you have externalized these open loops and stored them in an inbox, it is important that Efficient inboxes are reliably drained, otherwise they won’t work.


Ahrens, S. (2017). How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Matuschak, A. (n.d.). Close open loops. Andyʼs Working Notes. Retrieved September 7, 2021, from