How to think out of the box

A few years ago, I asked one of our (now former) employees to do a task that required thinking out of the box.  What he came up with was fairly ho-hum, nothing new or cutting edge, fairly plain vanilla.

The sad fact is that most of what we consider to be out of the box thinking is not any different than what is around us.  Yet all of us are capable of thinking out of the box.

Thinking Outside of the Box

Here is a quick trick I use to stretch my imagination.  Think out of the box with EASE: environment, acknowledge, schedule and enjoy.

  • Environment. Creative thinking requires you to look at the world differently. Start by changing your surroundings. It’s easier than you think: just do something you normally don’t do. Try golf, do yoga, taste spicy ethnic food, go bowling – anything other than your normal routine.
  • Acknowledge. Say to yourself “I’m doing something new. I haven’t done this before. I’m not scared of it. It’s just new and different.”  Recognize that you are going outside of your comfort zone.  It helps to frame the experience in your mind as one of growth and removing boundaries.
  • Schedule. Put it on your calendar, preferably during work hours so you truly feel that you are doing something different.  This is important.  Otherwise, your mind may see it as just doing something after work (in other words, nothing new).
  • Enjoy. Have fun. It’s okay, really. Your creative juices will flow freely when you are relaxed and enjoying yourself.

By putting yourself outside of your normal environment and being aware of the fact that you are trying something new, you will be surprised at how quickly you see things you normally would not see.