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.

Struggling with Making a Big Decision?

As we are winding the last few days of August, we are now facing the last 4 months of the year.  While this can be exciting to create new opportunities, this can also elicit feelings of fear out of making those dreams a reality.  Some of this may involve some major life changes which comes with big decisions, all of which will greatly impact your life.  If you find yourself struggling with making  a big decision, here are some quick steps to think about:

  • really understand the ‘why’ of making the change – this is the need to let go of something that has not been working and wanting to go after what will; if you’re not clear on this then you will be held back
  • recognize what is actually holding you back – is it the fear of change or making the wrong decision; it is worry over money or involves other people; do you actually believe you can make the change – resolving these will help propel you forward
  • do the research – knowing everything about the proposed decision will help you be more informed; you can do this by researching on the internet, talking to people who have experienced the same change, or seeking help from a coach who can help and support you in making the best informed decision

Only with enough self-awareness and knowledge can one make a decision that feels ‘right’ which leads to acting to get the desired result.  Using the simple exercise of taking a piece of paper and writing down the pros/cons of all areas is helpful, as well as using the principles of the Six Thinking Hats, where you list out what the best result, the worst, result, what is known, what needs to be known and then using your creativity to uncover any ideas listed are helpful tools in decision-making, Another is having trust in yourself and and using the ‘voice’ inside (your intuition) as you guide.

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