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How to Think More Structured

We're all busy. Our personal lives are stuffed full of appointments. Our business lives have seemingly endless reports, deadlines, meetings, and problems to solve. Time management has never been so important.

Although we have a fantastic array of electronic widgets, apps, and programs to help us with everything from A to Z, we still get behind on tasks to accomplish and glitches to solve. One of the more annoying issues in the corporate world is the problem you think is fixed but isn't.

How often have you and your team spent hours of valuable time solving a critical problem only to end up back where you started? Not only is the initial problem not resolved, but you've spent hours not resolving it.

While it is good to comprehend these many thoughts quickly, it is generally difficult to reproduce them verbally or on paper in that same amount of time. And that essentially means: we're losing out on ideas. Ideas that our brains generate every moment we think. A structured approach channelizes these thoughts and helps us retain them for longer. Moreover, this approach aids us in decision-making.

It can be easy to think that you're logically approaching the task when you’re in a chaotic situation. Often, the root cause of this typical difficulty is not fully understanding the parameters of the issue in the first place.

If you've ever worked in a help desk environment, you already know what I'm talking about. Sally in accounting puts in a trouble ticket because "the printer isn't working." Bob in the next cubicle reports that he "can't print his presentation." Larry's ticket says that "the printer sorter function isn't working." Multiple technicians responding to these three tickets compound the challenge if you have numerous technicians responding to these three tickets.

There are different ways to address a problem using a structured method, and you might find that one way works better for you. You could even make a list with a statement of the problem you want to solve, followed by how you think you could solve it. When you've finished the list, you can go back through it and eliminate the less practical ideas, focusing on the more helpful ones. The important thing is to use a structure.

The goal is to attain clarity. Start at the top: What problem are you trying to solve? It may help you to come at this from another angle: What are the issues you're not trying to solve (at the moment)? Only work with one problem at a time, and use one diagram per problem.

Structured thinking is also helpful in business communications. You might be amazed by how much meeting time you can save if you stick to just one specific subject. Use a structured graph (or another structured visual aid) that the group can follow. Don't allow anyone to stray off-topic. Set a finite time for the meeting, and end when you have enough data and input to deal with the one problem. A different problem requires a separate structured visual aid and a separate meeting. Don't let one topic bleed over into a related issue if it isn't central to solving the problem you're currently working on.

This 4-step structure is a basic one:

1. Have a Purpose in mind

Before you gather thoughts on an idea, you must know what objective your thinking would serve. With a well-defined purpose, you will easily be able to steer your thoughts in the direction you decide.

2. Know your Constraints

By "knowing" your constraints, you acknowledge their existence in your thoughts. Do not let them obstruct your thinking; instead, use them to identify the assumptions in your thinking and then challenge their status quo.

3. Get a holistic Point of View

What worked for others may not work for you. A proactive thinker would brainstorm all the different standpoints and weigh the respective opinions before concluding.

So, you have the purpose of guiding your thoughts, the constraints to maneuver your thoughts in the decision course, and holistic points of view to give you a broad picture of your path. What's left?

4. Anticipate the Impact of your decision

When you decide, think about the people whom this decision would potentially impact. When you do this, you create a feedback mechanism in your thoughts that sensitizes you concerning the effect you have on your environment.

There you have it. Follow this structure each time you decide, and you will feel a sense of control over your thoughts. And that's when you know you have the right approach. Suppose you want to learn more advice for any self-development topics and consult with us! Also, follow us at Instagram @baikgp and @ayureadypodcast for more information and extra insights!


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