Thinking outside of that bloody box – so easy to say, so hard to do. So give your brain another way to think, says Uevolve career coach Lucinda Harlow
You know how that ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ thing was great at first but now you’re really sick of seeing it everywhere? I feel a bit like that about ‘think outside of the box’. Might have helped once, now it’s just a slogan. Stale, not much help and really quite irritating.
Which is not to say we don’t really need to find new ways of tackling our work problems. The box is still there, it’s our way of thinking a way out that needs an overhaul.
I always give my clients the good news first. This new way of problem-solving doesn’t have to bring on a migraine. The technical names – you may want to make a note of them – are ‘Play’ and Sleep’.
The power of play and sleep
My clients soon learn the power of these strategies. I teach them methods that help with the unconscious integration of knowledge, which is the key to solving a problem.
What we mean about thinking outside of the box is thinking in an authentically fresh, new way. The techniques below are ways of allowing external cues to jog our brains into thinking differently.
Purposeful playing and strategic resting lets you move away from false assumptions you’ve been wrestling with for too long. It lets you see a challenge from a whole new angle.
Sounds complicated but it isn’t.
My top 3 box-busting tips
1. Do I have to draw you a picture?
Yes you do. Defining your problem is absolutely key to solving it. Don’t assume you have it nailed. Spend a minute playing with it. Drawing it. Out with the pens and get it down on paper. This helps you frame the problem in a whole different way, firing different bits of your brain. Here are a couple of ways to get started. Think of five ways to describe the problem. Use analogies. Draw the problem from a giant’s perspective. Give free reign to your play and you’ll soon start seeing things from a whole new angle.
2. Settle down with Sudoku
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that getting really stuck in to a taxing brain-teaser wakes up your mind to different ways of thinking. Instead of going round and round in the same old circles, your neurones start firing differently, opening up new paths out of that box.
3. Treat yourself to a snooze
One of the best bits of coaching advice I can share with my clients is ‘sleep on it’.
When we leave a problem and don’t think on it for a period of time we go through a period known as incubation. It might sound a bit counter-intuitive (one must work hard and continuously to live the career dream) but trust me, it works.