Taking a break to problem solve

Oct 18, 2011 10:55:00 AM / by Vu Long Tran

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail".
   - Abraham Maslow
Isn't it funny that we can often think that way. That there is only one possible solution to a problem, whereas in reality there may be more than the 'one' way of approaching problems or situations. Sometimes we find ourselves caught up in it but it's when we take a step back and look at it from a wider perspective or in a different manner that we actually discover there are other ways of approaching it.

Things are clearer with fresh eyes

Sometimes it's clear immediately, other times not so. I guess that's why they often say when writing that you should often have a look at it again in a few hours or days time and you'll notice that there are errors or better ways of expressing your ideas. We often find ourselves so absorbed in the material for so long that things can all seem the same and things that would normally be apparent are hidden to us. You will find that with time and an opportunity to relax your mind and give it a break, your fresh pair of eyes will pick up things.

Seeking another perspective

They often say the same about having someone else review and have a look at your piece to give that extra perspective. Having that other set of fresh eyes unabsorbed by the material will pick up those things.

A tool can be used in other ways

If as Abraham is saying that the only tool we have may only be a hammer, perhaps its time to do that they often say and that is try to think outside the box. This may simple mean rather than using the hammer in a conventional manner and using it to hammer down nails, perhaps consider whether the nail is really a nail in the first place?
While these are indeed things that we all do - both consciously and unconsciously as part of our problem solving and troubleshooting, it's important to be aware and realise that like reflecting, though it does seem like an extra step that we mightn't believe we have time for, a bit of time away from the problem or situation may enlighten you.

So make time to take a break.

You may find that you will at learn something that will prove useful for you for next time, and may see that you don't approach every problem as a nail, as it may be something else entirely different...
Vu Long Tran

Written by Vu Long Tran

Solutions Engineer APAC @pymetrics . ex-@Forrester consultant. Tweeting on #cloud, #cybersecurity, #equality and #tech tinkering!

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