There would hardly be anyone who was not asked or instructed to think outside the box. Be it a student, teacher, bank employee, corporate executive or anybody else, they were all smashed (at least once) with the notion: ‘think outside of the box.’
But what exactly is it? And how is it done?
I mean it cannot be like that you wake up one morning and suddenly your brain starts to think differently, do things differently, or act differently. This cannot happen ever. You and I are not robots that changing some settings in our brains will suddenly change everything.
But yes, it can be done gradually. With some practice and modifications in our lives we can grow the ability to think outside the box. And that is what I am going to talk about in this article.
But before I start on how you can develop out of the box thinking ability, let’s understand what it means.
What “Think Outside Of The Box” Really Means?
I’ll explain you how to think out of the box with an example. And here it is.
If we have to check whether a student is qualified enough to go to the next class (like maybe from level 6 to 7) then that is decided by his/her scores in the exams.
But, do you think that academic excellence should be the only parameter to determine a student’s competency?
No, of course not. But we are still doing it. Still following these cliched approaches and repeatedly bowing to the conventionalities.
It’s not that I find this academic evaluation thing useless. But I am of the belief that there should be a few more parameters to check whether the child is making progress or not.
Like does he/she has any other talent. How that talent can be channelized for his/her betterment. Thinking those different parameters is what an out of the box idea here.
We all have set some patterns and conceptions about doing a task. But breaking those patterns to build a new path is what thinking outside of the box means.
“Do something uncomfortable today. By stepping out of your box, you don’t have to settle for what you are- You get to create who you want to become.” – Howard Walstein
To think outside of the box means making innovations, changing the way to do something. Brewing your imaginations and curbing the limits makes you think out of the box.
Out of the box thinking stimulates your lateral thinking, which helps you develop new ideas and methods to perform a task. Lateral thinking is about doing things creatively and rejecting the status quo. So, to think differently you need to polish your lateral thinking ability.
Ways To Think Out Of The Box
As said above I know a few ways that you can adopt right away to train your brain to think out of the box. Remember that it is not a one-night thing. You need to practice daily and nurture your mind and creative skills consistently.
So, follow these methods and become an out of the box thinker.
Bid Goodbye To Your Comfort Zone
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
– Brian Tracy
I read it somewhere that a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there. Indeed it is a fascinating thing. But the longer we stay there, the more unproductive we become.
Bid goodbye to your comfort zone to become an out of the box thinker. The sooner you’ll leave it, the earlier you’ll learn the skills to do a task innovatively.
Like if you always manage to get good grades in your college assignments by copying it with your friends, try doing them yourself this time. You’ll learn more. And you never know that you might find a different and easier way of solving those assignments.
Add A Fresh Skill to Your Skill List
The urge to think out of the box rises due to consistent monotony and boredom. Following the same pattern since a long time with no gains forces us to think out of the box.
Learning a new skill can help you incredibly in this journey. Learning something off the track will groom untouched aspects of your personality.
Break The Patterns to Foster Creativity
We all have a routine to follow. It’s like our daily ritual. But sometimes going off the path can instigate novel ideas in our mind.
Creativity is one of the prime factors that leads us to think out of the box. Therefore, try doing something unconventional from the routines that you have followed till now.
Simple things like changing the place where you sit, taking a short tea break, and going for a stroll can be helpful. Or if you study from the books directly then try learning by making notes for the topics. You’ll find it more engaging and fruitful.
Another example is that if you mostly follow the self-study pattern for exam preparation then go for group studies with your friends this time. Instead of studying in your room, try studying in a library.
Making tiny changes can significantly enhance your creative abilities. Start from more trivial things and then do something bigger in a different way.
Thinking new ways to do a thing, gradually, trains your mind to think out of the box.
Focus While You Brainstorm
Brainstorming is helpful in exploring our potentials and thoughts. It is a creative activity in which random solutions are discussed for a problem.
But as you brainstorm, give your thoughts a structure and link them with each other. Stop your mind from running into random directions. Try to maintain a sequence as too much freedom can hamper your creativity.
As you brainstorm, try to be specific. Ask relevant questions, discuss your thoughts, and draw moral conclusions. For instance: If the discussion is about including new co-curricular activities in the college then list the ten most popular activities. Ask people to vote for the five activities they favor, priority wise.
Doing this will help you find the activities that are favored by the most. Therefore, selecting and implementing the right activities would be easier and simpler.
So, remember the crux of discussion as you brainstorm. This will not only give you innovative ideas but also make the session quicker and more organized.
Communicate With Individuals From Different Groups
Training your mind to think out of the box has a ground rule and, i.e., disrupting your routines. And just like learning something new or doing a task differently, try interacting with different people too.
Now being specific on what interacting with different people means, they are the ones who have different perspectives, goals, or focus in their lives.
For instance: if you are a commerce student interact with a student from science or arts stream. Talk about their life goals. You can also discuss what made them choose a particular stream. What do they think about your stream and anything like that?
In fact, communicating with people from different age group can be helpful. Like if you are in any confusion or problem. Discussing it with your parents can be useful.
Taking suggestions from kids can turn out to be worthy too. As children tend to have innovative minds. And you never know any of their innocent ideas can be an ice-breaker tactic for your next project.
Take Out Time For Your Hobbies Too
Do you have a hobby?
Something you love to do the most whenever you get time.
Like when I am free, I love to do some craft things. Like making something out the waste papers, decorating my room, cupboard with the things I make.
Now you must be wondering how my this habit trains my mind to think out of the box?
Well, it does. It begins from the time I think of making something creative. And it follows to the second step on how I can use the resources I have in hand in the best possible way.
So whether it’s reading, singing, writing, dancing or even cooking. Go For it. Spare some time for your hobbies. They not only relax your mind but hone your creative instinct.
Pay Attention to How You Feel
How you feel throughout the day generously affects our creativity. Both positive and negative emotions play a vital role in uplifting our creative process. However, it depends on the situation when you are experiencing what kind of emotions.
For instance: if you are about to start a project, having the positive mood and mindset will give you an internal boost to start the work. Whereas, if you are in middle of the project, being in negative mood may assist you to identify areas that need improvement. And those improvements will lead to better execution of the plan.
Be Ready to Take Risks and Make Mistakes
There is nothing worse than the fear of failure that restricts our creativity. It might seem easy but following an unconventional path isn’t a piece of cake.
And if you are afraid to fail then, my friend, thinking out of the box can be a tough nut to crack.
To become an out of the box thinker, get rid of this fear asap. Never be afraid to try something new. Of course, you should evaluate your step on certain parameters, or it will make you look stupid.
So, the crux of this suggestion is that only take a well-calculated amount of risk. Try a new way only if you believe it’s authenticity.
Other than the above-mentioned ways, there are certain activities and exercises to think out of the box. Practicing these exercises will train your mind to become an out of the box thinker.