To Solve the Problem, Move the Problem

Do you ever feel stuck or unsure where to begin on a creative problem or work task?

Whenever this happens to me, I find it helpful to open up a Google doc and start spitting out random ideas.

Why is this helpful? For one thing, most problems start out in constrained environments with little elbow room for thinking out loud: email inboxes, Slack messages, your head, etc.

These constrained environments either lack room for brainstorming or expansive thinking (literally – the visual spaces are so cramped) or have a too-indefinite (inside your head) or too-final (email inbox text editor) feel. So they have the interesting effect of causing your mind to constrain itself, too.

Sometimes to solve this you just need to switch the environment in which the problem lives. Hence the Google docs. When I have a big white page on which to pour out my fragmented thoughts into one place (private to me), I can start to piece things back together visually, with confidence that I’m closer (definite change) to solving the problem but not finally committed to the current iteration. All of this helps with creative problem-solving.

What are some of your hacks for “moving the problem”?

Photo by Damian Zaleski on Unsplash

P.S. This post owes much to the Getting Things Done method and David Allen’s ideas.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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