23 July 2012

Monday Inspiration: Think Outside The Box

First, watch the video below...

Pretty cool right? Now, to be honest, the stop-motion clip above has little to nothing to do with the point of this post, but think of it as an extended metaphor for thinking outside the box. I digress. I often find myself stuck in a state of mental block; wandering aimlessly, mumbling random phrases until I find something that works for whatever I may be doing at the time. Lately, I've been trying to kick-start my brain into thinking differently by experimenting with a few things. I've found that the tips below can trick your mind into tackling a problem in a new (sometimes more effective) way - often forcing you to rethink an entire situation. So here they are, in no particular order.
  • Say YES to random
    Stop what you're doing. Look at something else. Take a walk with someone. Make tea instead of coffee. Break a habit for a while. Do something you wouldn't normally do. Surprise yourself.
  • Get a kid's opinion
    Often, a child will cut straight to the heart of a problem because they're not really too focused on the details. I don't believe that kids have some unspoken wisdom that adults slowly lose as they become conditioned by external influences, but I think kids will always offer some kind of fresh insight.
  • Do it in reverse
    What is your goal? Fantastic. Now use that as a starting point and work backwards until you've reached where you are now. It's actually harder than it sounds, but it's like jogging for your brain. If you play guitar and have ever tried playing the other way around, you'll notice that you have to rethink the shape of every chord and strumming pattern. It's the same with any other activity.
  • Doodle
    It doesn't have to be a masterpiece. Just doodle something. Get your thoughts out on paper so you can make room for some new ones. (Also, I've got a great drawing-related post coming up later this week, so keep an eye out for that).
  • Think in terms of another industry
    Reading up on the best practices and processes of another industry can often lead to helpful insights that might apply to your own line of work. As the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat, so if your job is skinning cats for a living, you've got your work cut out for you. Lastly...
  • Take a shower
    This is my favourite one, and it totally works. The shower is a beautiful place. Just you, your thoughts and your naked body trapped inside a cubicle while your dirt is washed away by jets of water. It's probably the purist thing we can do as humans and often leads to great ideas (like a luminous shower head that changes colour according to the temperature of the water!).
Well, I hope this has helped... or at least taken your mind off work for a while. Go now, and vanquish this week!

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