Endless wander: Can downtime improve creative problem solving?06 Jul 2015
Workplace issues can be incredibly complex. Internally, there’s a whole host of staff to keep happy. Externally, relationships with customers must be kept at the optimum level to ensure the business runs smoothly.
It can be all too easy to use the tried and tested techniques when a bump in the road occurs. After all, if it worked in the past, why wouldn’t the same technique work again? Well, some problems are just too big to tackle traditionally.
Creative problem solving is crucial in such cases. How can it be best utilised? By taking a break. It may sound counter-intuitive, but letting your mind wander can actually help find the most innovative solutions to any issues.
Research conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in the US explained that free thinking and procrastination are, in fact, inextricably linked.
Naturally, there’s a balance to be struck. You don’t want to get in the habit of zoning out at important times. However, a little space to think freely in the face of a business issue may help you find a solution away from the norm.
It’s also key to consider both vertical and lateral thinking when letting your mind wander. Vertical thinking is centred on the depth of your existing knowledge. Lateral thinking is arguably more usable in this particular case as it is a tool that can stimulate imagination.
Mixing reason with creativity can be a simple way to unlock any hidden ways to solve problems. Research published in The Physician Executive explained that lateral thinking is not bound by convention and will typically produce alternative results.
Letting the mind wander at work may seem like a waste of time. However, a little procrastination and a different way of thinking could soon see you solving some of the most complicated business issues.