The Art of Rapid Problem-Solving and the State of Flow

The Art of Rapid Problem-Solving and the State of Flow

When you think of problem solving, what comes to mind? For most of is it will probably be someone sitting at a desk, scratching their head and chewing a pencil. That is to say that we normally think of problems as things that we do slowly over time and in a considered fashion.

In reality though, this often is not the case. Often we will be forced to solve problems rapidly and on the fly and this is when things can get difficult. Here we’ll look at why this ability is so important and at what you can do to improve it.

Action Sports

The best place to study ‘rapid problem solving’ is in the world of action sports. This will include sports like snowboarding, surfing, racecar driving and others that involve last-minute reflexes and reactions. While you might think that these actions occur automatically and in the moment, they can nonetheless still be considered as a form of decision making.

For instance, while it might be pure impulse to go around an obstacle, you still need to think which way around that obstacle you want to go – which should normally mean weighing up which route would be quicker, which has the most obstacles further on and which will make it easiest to balance as you travel. And you won’t be faced with one decision like this but countless ones.

In every-day life we make decisions like this all the time too – right down to knowing when to cross the road. So how can you improve this kind of decision making process?

Flow States

The answer might lie in ‘flow states’. Flow states are a psychological phenomenon that allow us to make rapid decisions accurately that we would otherwise not be capable of. During these states we are completely focused on the matter in hand and we are able to perform flawlessly almost without thinking about it. The world seems to slow down and we become untouchable; the only thoughts are on the task at hand. And interestingly, it seems to be very similar to the state of flow we get into when we’re very focused on a work project.

This state is triggered by numerous neurochemicals including dopamine, norepinephrine, anandamide and endorphins. It is similar to the fight or flight response (which normally deadens creativity) but where you remain relaxed and in control the whole time.

How to Get Into Flow

So how do you get into flow? The answer seems to be that you need to be completely focused on what you are doing, which happens when you are a) very passionate about it, or b) you believe your life is on the line. Aligning your skills and abilities with the task at hand, setting goals for how you will achieve the goal, blocking out distractions, savoring your passion for the task you’re faced with – these are a few ways to get in flow.

Being fully present on any task is what gets you in the state of flow – see how this focus helps with your decision-making; record your thought-process, along with the outcomes, to make any corrections as needed. Look to see how your intuition, which a flow-state will enhance – to see if this impacts how you make a decision and the effects, both positive or negative, to enhance your awareness.

To be better at rapid decision making you need to be 100% present, or in the state of low and, as with anything, the best way to accomplish that is to practice. Practice doing things you care deeply about, along with the other suggestions, and your rapid decision making may just improve!

Contact us today to learn how to get in the state of flow to enhance your work and personal life.

Dealing with Information Overload

What Is Information Overload?

Have you ever started something new – a new job, a new sport, even a new game and you’re trying to learn the information, but it feels like your brain might explode?

That’s an exaggerated symptom of information overload, or having to take in too much information in a short amount of time, or at once. Most people are experiencing this daily  due to fast access to information, mainly via the internet.

The use of social media has increased exponentially; here are some sobering facts (Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation, n.d.):

  • People check their phones at least 46 -74 times per day
  • Social media is addictive, according to newer studies
  • 81% check their phone while dining out
  • 76% of Americans attribute information overload with their stress
  • 35% of workers feel overload affects their performance, with 30% feeling it affects their job satisfaction

Information overload can cause the following symptoms:

* Headache

* Stress

* Moodiness

* Fatigue

* Overweight

* Cardiovascular issues

* Memory and concentration problems

* Lack of sleep

*Eye strain

* And more…

Plus, often it can cause problems in interpersonal relationships and work relationships. The reason is that most information overload is a choice you make. You choose to be on social media all day; you choose to watch every single news station and every single pundit on TV talk about whatever is the topic of the day.

It’s Like Drinking Water from a Fire Hydrant  

Anytime you want to learn something, it’s tempting to start gathering tons of information. And due to the net, it’s easy to get drawn down into the rabbit hole of unending information. It becomes hard to determine what information is good and what information is bad.

It Leads to Poor Information Filtering

When you are bombarded with so much information, your brain can’t filter it properly. Your brain does something called twigging, which means that instead of filtering information in terms of importance it just generalizes all information as being the same. This is terrible for decision making.

It Leads to FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is related to our emotions and a belief that other people are living better, doing more, and have more satisfaction in their lives. This result leads feelings of anxiety, or worry, that you are missing out on wants in your life. It leads to self-comparison which does nothing for your self-esteem and confidence.

It Leads to Bad Choices

If you can’t properly filter information to determine what is true, what is right and what is wrong, you’ll have a hard time making the right choices. The information overload causes you to choose wrongly on any number of issues, because with so much noise going on you can’t determine what is right.

It Harms Your Relationships

Information overload can harm your relationships. If you’re always reading your smartphone, looking at social media and aren’t present in your life, it can hurt intimacy. If your partner and friends are complaining, take heed.

It Leads to Black and White Thinking

The world is not black and white. The world is colorful, black, white, gray and everything in between and more. The same can be said for a lot of issues. There are very few issues that are either right or wrong, black or white.


If you have too much information at your fingertips and are rating everything the same, it’s easy to see things as black and white, which can make it hard to negotiate a happy life and successful business. Some people can take it further by relying solely on what they’ve read on the internet or news as the gospel truth, which harms one’s way of thinking and critical thinking.

It Can Lead to Mental Issues Like Anxiety and Depression

When you get to the point of information overload, a lot of people experience mental problems such as short-term memory issues and even depression. If you find that you’re just feeling mixed up a lot, forget appointments and aren’t doing your best at home or work, consider information overload as a potential culprit.

Information overload can be a big problem for a lot of people. People are wrecking their cars due to not being able to turn away from looking at their text messages. Who knows how much money is lost in overall productivity due to information overload which, according to a study by Basex, is $900 billion.

So, what is the solution?

First, look at your usage of how you are taking information in, which includes: social media, TV news and shows, gaming, reading magazine and books, talking to others; information is exchanged at a constant rate so assessing how much, and in what formats, will help to begin to limit your involvement.

Begin to ‘detach’ in smaller steps, such as not opening your phone for 30 minutes, then increase your time; limit your TV time; read for 20-30 minutes then go outside and walk. To calm your brain from not worrying about what you think you’re missing, small is better (although going ‘cold turkey’ is a better way for some.

Monitor your physical and mental health to see progress and how much better you feel – are you more alert and able to concentrate longer; do you feel more energetic; are you sleeping better; do you feel happier. Looking at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ can help you recognize the benefits of your efforts so you continue on. You might be surprised to realize how much you don’t miss those activities as much as you thought.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed, which is affecting you productivity and emotional health, reach to get help. You don’t have to struggle alone.


The Benefits of Aromatherapy to Deal with Stress

If you’re looking for an easy way to relax when under stress, aromatherapy can be an answer. Our senses are very powerful and are useful when trying to get calm, to relax, and to energize.

The sense of smell goes into the deepest part of the brain through the olfactory area of the central nervous system, which stimulates the hormones of serotonin and dopamine (our happy chemical) and helps with mood-regulation.

Aromatherapy has its roots in holistic and alternative medicine; these practices are being embraced and used by the medical community and other businesses. We now see products being sold in grocery stores and pharmacies.

Aromatherapy is the practice of using oils from plant extracts for medicinal, relaxation and aromatic purposes. Making your own ‘concoction’ gives the best results, as the pure extracts are being used; essential oils are most notably sold but these are laced with other ingredients. Candles offer another way to reap these calming benefits, as well as diffusers, incense, and lotions. My personal favorite is Vick’s VapoRub, as it has both calming ingredients plus pain relief.

Using any of these can bring calm from depression or anxiety; pain relief from tension, such as in your head, neck or back; and energize with certain scents.

So, what scents are the best? Here are some suggestions:

  • Lavender – calming, pain, enhance memory, sleep aid
  • Eucalyptus and peppermint – brain fog, mental focus
  • Rosemary and lemon – memory, focus, mental fatigue, stimulation
  • Patchouli and Ylang Ylang – reduce stress and anxiety, enhance mood
  • Orange – mood enhancer

Of course, there are many others, which can be used in combination with other to create appealing scents. Some scents might be overbearing so other ways include: candles, incense, and lotions or bath salts/bombs (“Calgon take me away…”).

You may have to test and try out which method and scent  to see what works best; you may take a relaxing bath with lavender to decompress, or add lemon to a diffuser while you’re doing the dishes.

Aromatherapy is truly a great way to feel good. These alternative herbs and oils can bring a natural way of  enhancing your mental health and well-being.



If you’d like help with anxiety and stress, and learn healthier coping patterns, reach out to schedule a call to learn how we can help.



A Blueprint for Continuous Improvement

Kaizen is often used to describe the process of continuous improvement. That means making lots of small changes on a regular basis in order to ultimately improve the operation on a larger scale. It’s often applied to business and, particularly, to areas like manufacturing and engineering.

But it can also be applied to your own personal goals. If you take the approach of continuous improvement – of making lots of tiny little changes in your life on a regular basis – then over time you’ll be able to ‘upgrade’ every single aspect of your life and, in a few years, you can be in a whole different place.

Countless studies tell us that people resist extreme change.‘ We get so used to doing things the same, which gives comfort, anytime we move away from that state we may resist the new (even if it is something we want).  So,  if you think you can wake up one morning and become a highly disciplined individual, then you’re in for a big surprise.

In order for change to be successful it must be incremental and it must be holistic. By starting small, that new action won’t feel threatening so you engage in that task. To make changes in your life, and your lifestyle, you need to make lots of small, manageable changes; of course, it’s unrealistic to think you can make many changes at once.

This is what seems to set someone up for failure; we can look at the New Year’s goals, i.e. make or save more money, get a new job, lose weight …each of these is a big goal in itself but how many lump them all together.

Choosing one, and the being methodical in your efforts, will give more clarity and motivating to go after them until achieved. This is why Kaizen can do for you.

How to Use the Process of Kaizen

So how does Kaizen actually look once you start using it? How do you take this idea and turn it into a reliable blueprint that you can follow?

A good place to start would be at the beginning. So look for one small change you can make to your lifestyle that can help to serve you in some tiny way in achieving your goal.

Let’s say you need more time but, looking deeper, what you really need is  more organization of what is involved in your time; a small change could include buying a planner, or wall calendar, and writing tasks out so you visually see them. Having a reminder, such as timer on your phone, will prompt to get tasks done. Checking them off will show accomplishment so you keep going. This is brain-prompting.

These are all a simple change you can make – but the result could be a half an hour of extra sleep or spending time with a hobby or your family.  This can make a huge difference to your energy level and getting more done throughout the day.

What else do you need to achieve your goals? If you need a little more money then perhaps you could look for a way to save $1 a day. $1 a day is a tiny thing to have to change, so maybe it just means that you have a cup of tea in the morning instead of a coffee, or forego a Starbucks for a day.  earlier.

Now you have 30 minutes of extra sleep and an additional $20 a week. Those are two tiny changes but they’ve just made it much easier for you to accomplish anything else you want to in your life because you have more energy and more money… What else might be possible?


If you want to increase your productivity and performance, schedule a call to learn more.

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