Solving problems faster

We all have moments where we try and figure out how we should increase sales without changing the price, deciding how we can build our personal wealth, struggling with a new business idea or simply trying to find a solution to a relationship problem. But how can you get to that new insight without having to sleep on it or go on a vacation?
What makes it more difficult is that 35% of people have their best creative moments in the early morning but when they go to work it drops to 8% and doesn’t go back up. According to David Rock, co-founder of the Neuro Leadership Institute, the open plan at work can further drop your productivity with 15%, which creates even more anxiety to complete your tasks and find solutions to problems you are constantly rolling around in your mind. With endless advise we all get on productivity, being more creative and finding solutions quicker, what is the key elements to consider when deciding how you spend your time when faced with difficult decisions or complex problems? Here’s a few:
  1. Quiet time
According to Mark Beeman we solve complex problems faster when we take quiet time and lower activity in the brain by focusing on something repetitive (exercising, gardening, cooking) and switching off all our devices for a period of time.
Action step: Take a walk by yourself
  1. Be happy
Beeman also found that being slightly happy versus slightly anxious help people solve problems and be more creative. Being anxious wastes time while being happy allows people to notice a wider range of information. Being grateful is one of the most powerful thoughts we can have to push us in the direction of being in a happier state of mind.
Action step: Say 10 things out loud you are grateful for
  1. Panel of experts
When we think of how our mentors (people we respect or that have had a positive influence on our lives) will react to a specific problem at hand, it allows us to consider different opinions that we respect.
Action step: Create a panel of experts in your minds eye of all the mentors in your life, and put the problem in front of them and imagine what they’re reaction will be.
  1. Be in the present
Being in the present and focusing our attention on as few thoughts as possible, looking to the inside of yourself without focusing on the external world allows an effect in the visual and auditory cortex of the brain to save its resources for noticing new solutions or finding new insights.
Action step: While sitting and focusing on a single point in the room, become aware of all the noises you are hearing, then everything you are touching or feeling. Be aware of all your visual, auditory and kinesthetic senses at the same time for a few minutes while focusing only on your breathing.
  1. Play a game
In the brain wrong solutions push out correct ones. According to Stellan Ohlsson’s “inhibition theory” we need to inhibit the wrong solutions for the right ones to come to our attention. The best way to do so is to let your mind wander to any game that is mentally calming that helps you relax, distracts attention and improve dopamine levels enough to allow your non-conscious brain to do the work.
Action step: Play a game of Wii, Solitaire or table tennis
Whether you are trying to figure out personal challenges, looking for a way to diversify your business or have a list of important decisions to make, take the time to allow your non-conscious mind to solve the things your conscious mind is to overwhelmed to do. In anyway, it has a much greater capacity to do so– your job is simply to reduce the noise in your head and allow space for reflection.