juggling problems

When you get stuck working on a problem, sometimes it’s a good idea to take a break rather than push forward and endure escalating frustration as your thoughts go round and round.

Take a break and clear your mind. Switch from left brain thinking (rational, linear problem solver) to right brain thinking (intuitive, creative).

Sometimes you need to let go of all of the ideas you’ve been stewing over, and set aside all of the data you’ve amassed.  It’s a good time to make room for fresh thinking.

It’s our left brain that insists we carry on working even when it’s obvious we’re getting nowhere. When we’re stuck like this, the best use of break time is to activate our right brain.  When we do something that requires our right brain to be engaged, we temporarily turn off our left brain.

Optimally this might involve music and some sort of physical activity. For example: take a brisk walk or do some stretching and squats with your favorite break-time playlist on your earphones; or,…crank it up and dance like no one is watching!

Our right brain is involved in judging distance, measuring rhythm, and managing hand-eye coordination.

Juggling is an excellent problem-solving activity.  In fact, it’s one of the best.  It requires eye-to-hand coordination, rhythm, and so much concentration (it’s not easy to learn or to do) that your mind is literally taken entirely away from the problem you’re facing.

Try it.  Take a single, light, non-breakable object and toss it gently up and down a few inches in one hand.  When you’ve got that, toss it gently to the other hand.  Then hand to hand.  Notice where and how that focuses your attention. Right brain activation.

You’re on your way to a new problem-solving skill!


Inspired by the book Secrets of Great Leaders (O’Connor, 2015)

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