Getting Out of the Box

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

There is a much used phrase, "think outside the box" that is supposed to spur us to think in new ways to solve a problem that has resisted conventional wisdom and strategies.   In all areas of our lives these days, we are confronted with issues that seem to defy any kind of thinking whether the thinking was inside or outside of the box.  I don't know about you, but being asked to "think outside the box" was always a mystery to me.  I thought the way I thought and frankly didn't know how to change it.

Here are some ways to help you do this kind of thinking and they all involve something I call "getting out of the box."   If you can imagine yourself and your usual way of thinking and behaving as living in a well ordered, predictable box, you see only certain things and with limited information, you must think and act on the information you have at hand.  Here are ways to get into a new "place" and get a fresh point of view.

Change your location:  If you work in an office, is there a conference room or other place you could go to think?  The break room, with the usual people, coffee, snacks and distractions is not what I'm talking about.  Can you take your laptop and go to a coffee shop, bookstore or library or other new place?  Maybe a complete change is what is called for.  Many a brilliant project has been planned on an airplane to a fun destination.  Have a notebook handy and without putting too much pressure on yourself, entertain the possibility that something brilliant will come of this trip.  This change of scenery may be just what you need get a fresh point of view.

Change your routine:  Do you always do the same type of task at the same time? Are the tasks you doing meshing with your energy level?  Has your routine become predictable and boring?  Why not mix it up?  Instead of checking email first thing, pull out your planner and make some goals for the day, week or month.  Meet a client for breakfast instead of lunch or vice versa.  Making a change like this, causes new neural pathways to develop in our brains and open the door for more creative thinking.

Change your environment:  Look around your work space.  Is it orderly, inspiring, energizing and conducive to creativity?  If not, rearrange some furniture.  Straighten that bookshelf.  Handle that pile of papers.  Change out the plants, pictures or window coverings.  Get a can of paint and brighten up the walls.  Sometimes the smallest change in the environment can stir us to see things in a more hopeful way.

Change your people: If you have been in a rut meeting with the same people and having the same conversations for years, as much as you may love and respect them, it may be time to add to the mix.  I am not saying you need to drop any relationships, but  making it a priority to meet some new people and being open to them as potential business colleagues or friends.  New people stimulate our thinking and offer a fresh perspective.  You might look out of your industry for some new connections as certain industries attract many of the same types that may not have the revitalizing effect you desire.

Be aware that being comfortable may not be in your best interest.  Get out, get revitalized and enjoy your business and life more.


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