When you are looking for new ideas or you need to solve a problem, do you think on paper? This post will show you 2 very simple, easy to use tools, which can help you become massively more creative and a superstar problem solver.
I was working at my desk the other day, when a friend pointed out that he thought it was odd, that I was writing notes out using pen and paper, with all that hi-tech equipment around me. I explained to him that I find it far more effective to create, using pen and paper, than using a computer. It’s as if the ideas flow more easily for me, using a more natural interface.
Here are the 2 main tools I use for thinking on paper.
1. Spider diagrams
The first tool I use for thinking on paper, is a simple spider diagram, like the one below, from The University of Sheffield. I use this as a way to generate ideas. I start off with a key word in the middle of the page. This key word or short phrase is something that’s linked to a project I am working on. Once the key word is written down, I spider off it, with new ideas.
As you can see below, some of these ideas lead to others, which I keep in order using a line to link them. This shows me instantly, how my thought process is working. Because these ideas are all on paper in front of me, I don’t need to remember them and can use my mind 100% to create. I have tried using software programs that offer the same functionality, but find it far less effective than this simple approach.
2. Hand written lists
Another way I think on paper, is to use hand written lists, as a way to solve problems.
I start off by writing the problem down at the top of the page, as if it were a question. So, instead of writing down:
“Bob needs to quit smoking and I would like to help him.”
I would write this down:
“How can I help Bob quit smoking in a way that he will find enjoyable?”
By the way, the better the question you start off with, the better your answers will be – so spend as much time as necessary getting the question right!
Next, I simply write down as many possible answers as I can. I just let my mind flow and feel free to write down anything – without restriction. I always shoot for at least 15 answers, because I find that pushes me to keep producing answers and ideas. It’s amazing how many answers I have been able to find using this method; especially when faced with really tricky issues and challenges.
I know that there are many structured tools, to help us become more creative and better problem solvers. However, the purpose of this brief post, was simply to share 2 extremely productive, simple techniques that anyone can master in 5 minutes. I would really like to know what tools you use to help you come up with ideas and answers. Please share them with your fellow readers and myself.
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