We’ve all heard the saying “think outside the box” before, and it’s almost become such a cliché that it’s lost its meaning. It’s true, we’re all sick of hearing middle managers calling for us to think outside the box to solve problems, but the truth is that going outside of your comfort zone and approaching a problem in a new way is a great way to find a little extra inspiration.
Here are just a few ways to think outside the box while trying to solve a problem.
1. Sleep on it
When we’re struggling to deal with a problem, our instinct is often to work as hard and as long as we can until we arrive at a solution. Unfortunately, this is counterproductive – when were tired, we’re unable to focus on the issue at hand, and we often come up with our best ideas just before or just after we fall asleep. Just make sure you keep a notebook and a pen by your bedside table.
2. Reframe the problem
Sometimes, what we think is a problem turns out to be a symptom of a wider issue. For example, when you’re worrying about your annual appraisal and struggling to figure out how to tell HR that your boss is a bully, you might realize that you’re actually just dissatisfied and that you want a new job. Of course, this method then creates a different problem – but at least it might be easier for you to solve it.
3. Look at similar but different problems
For example, if you’re struggling with a marketing challenge then look at how people in other industries solved the same challenge and figure out a new way to apply it to your own company. If you’re having problems with another person, try to look at things from their point of view.
Sometimes there’s no single solution and you have to take different ideas and weld them together. This process is known as synthesis, and the good news is that the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s say you’re struggling to come up with the money to pay your rent. A synthesized approach would involve working extra hours, downgrading to a car that’s cheaper to run, borrowing money from a friend or a relative and selling off old clothes.
5. Ask for help
Whether you’re asking a friend to help you to move house or hiring assignment help, involving another person will give you a whole new perspective on things. For best results, consult several people – and best of all, ask a mixture of people who are close to the situation and who are totally separate from it. Sometimes asking a child can be a good idea, depending upon the problem – they’re not yet conditioned to think in the same way that adults do.
Most of what we think of as problems are actually challenges – and they only become a problem if we fail to deal with them. The trick to being successful is to overcome these challenges by finding a solution, whether that’s as simple as Googling for instructions or as complicated as thinking outside the box and coming up with a solution on your own.
As a general rule, staying still is the worst thing you can do. If you have an idea that might work, try it – if it doesn’t then at least you gave it a go. Keep following the tips in this article and never, ever give up – you’ll have found a solution to your problem in no time.
With a passion for helping students with assignments, Cathy Baylis is a freelancer blogger specializing in personal growth, career development, leadership and motivation. Cathy also works as a freelance ghost writer of blogs and articles with a particular interest in little-known facts and stories.