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Think Like a Scientist: How to Solve Everyday Problems

The power of the incubation period

For many years, scientists have found that amazing ideas, solutions to problems and obstacles often come to people when they aren’t actively trying to develop a solution.

The incubation period works because your brain gets to take a break from everything distracting you.

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Think Like a Scientist: How to Solve Everyday Problems

Think Like a Scientist: How to Solve Everyday Problems

https://medium.com/kaizen-habits/think-like-a-scientist-how-to-solve-everyday-problems-64f7fcb2f5cf

medium.com

9

Key Ideas

Systematic approach

Most people jump straight from finding a problem to attempting to solve it.

Having a systematic approach to how you deal with problems, as opposed to just going by gut and feelings, can make a big difference in how you creatively find answers to your obstacles.

Study the problem first

Detectives and investigators use the process. They ask both obvious and unthinkable questions.

Get close and collect information about how the problem is manifesting.  Understand where the problem does and doesn’t happen, when the problem started, and how often the problem occurs to generate critical insight for the problem-solving effort.

Question for great answers

  • Don’t look for solutions immediately; Keep redefining the problem until you arrive at the root cause.
  • Don’t try to guess the solution; try to understand how the obstacles, or challenges manifest first.
  • Gather data to analyze all potential root causes.
  • Consider all options, regardless of how irrelevant they currently appear.
  • Find a way to connect the dots. Make better analogies. One good analogy is worth three hours of discussion.

Break the obstacle down

  • A problem broken down is half way solved. E.g: if you don’t have enough money to get a mortgage, you could divide the obstacle into “too little income,” “high expenses,” and “expectations of future house.”
  • Address each category on its own.
  • Once you have categories, it’s very easy to continue digging.
  • Finally, execute the best action plan.

The point of analysis is to never accept statements at face value, including your own.

A “could” mindset

In many situations when people encounter a problem, they tend to default to what they should do instead of asking what they could do.

Could helps you think outside an existing problem to generate more creative solutions.

Should narrows your thinking process to one answer, the one that seems most obvious.

Don’t rush the thinking process

Concentrating harder won’t force that ‘eureka moment’ you need.

Instead, your best option might be to step away from the problems and get do something unrelated to the project.

When you stop thinking about a task, your brain continues working on the problem in the background.

The power of the incubation period

For many years, scientists have found that amazing ideas, solutions to problems and obstacles often come to people when they aren’t actively trying to develop a solution.

The incubation period works because your brain gets to take a break from everything distracting you.

Work backwards

Working backwards is useful when the final result is clear but the initial portion of a problem is obscure.

Reverse engineering allows you to notice patterns your brain normally ignores.

It pays to sleep on it

In many cases, when you are tempted to stay up late to find a solution to an obstacle, you might be better sleeping on it.

The brain makes better connections when you are asleep, allowing you to make new and useful associations between unrelated ideas.

Your brain might solve the problem for you while you’re fast asleep.

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