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Some Great Problem-Solving Techniques

Would you like a few great techniques that will increase your brain power? Do you ever run out of good ideas, or go around in circles trying to come up with a solution for a simple problem? Find one or two of the problem-solving techniques below that you like, and get in the habit of using them.

Using Your Unconscious Mind

Let your unconscious mind do your problem-solving, using one of several techniques. First, try outlining a problem in your mind before going to sleep, and telling your brain to go to work. Einstein had good luck with this technique, sometimes getting the "ah-ha" insight while shaving the next morning. Next, instruct your mind to keep working on the problem while you are doing other things. There is more than we know going on inside our heads. Finally, work on problems when you are in a drowsy state. This can result in more creative solutions.

Systematic Techniques

Challenge your assumptions. For example, if you aren't making enough money and you assume you need another job, ask "do I really need a better job?" Maybe you can get a raise, or you can make the job that you already have better. A business on the side might be another option. Don't let your assumptions limit your possible solutions.

Break big problems down into smaller ones. Buying a house is a big move that is really a bunch of small steps. This is true of many problems. Start by addressing all of the components of a problem individually, and it may not seem so overwhelming. This makes it easier to motivate yourself.

Ask three people for their opinions and/or advice. They may have good ideas, but in any case this helps you be sure that you are not overlooking anything obvious.

Write down the problem. Then find another way to express it and write that down. Continue with all the possible solutions and any ideas that come to mind. Write EVERYTHING, then come back to it later to pick the diamonds out of the dirt.

Change your perspective. Pretend you are very rich, very poor, a child, a visitor from another planet. How would you see the problem from this new perspective. Einstein imagined riding on a beam of light to come up with his theory of relativity, so this technique has been known to work.

More Techniques

Here's a fun one. As you drive along in your car (or sit in your chair), randomly pick an object. Now ask what this object might teach you about your problem. If you are looking for a way to fire a bad employee, for example, a mailbox might make you think of writing him a letter (and a billboard might make you laugh). A tree might give you no ideas, and a skinny road worker might make you think, "maybe he is just in the wrong position, and he can do a good job elsewhere in the company."

If you use this technique, you will have many silly ideas pop into your head. Don't be too dismissive of them, as they will sometimes trigger a thought that is more useful. This is a creative technique that you can use anywhere. It is also great for putting driving time to good use.

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