It occurred to me while I was working on the rebuild and redesign of this website that quite often it’s all too easy for us to get bogged down in the minor details of a problem.
In this corporate, results driven culture we’re quite often expected to been seen to be doing something, even if that something is not necessarily helping the situation.
To put this in context, when I was coming up with the redesign of this website it required that I changed the template code so that a default image appeared on the homepage if there wasn’t one specified for the post. For some reason I was really struggling with this and must have spent around 5 hours trying all sorts of things to get this to work to no avail. And course, the more you try and get something to work and it doesn’t, the more frustrated you become. This frustration leads you to become distracted, which then compounds the problem further.
I got so disheartened that I simply gave up and figured that there was no possible way I was going to be able to make the change.
The following morning, I fired up my computer and resolved to have one last look at the changes I wanted. With fresh eyes I was able to make the change in 15 minutes. Yes, you read that right, FIFTEEN MINUTES! if only I’d stopped what I was doing the previous day and taken a step back, I could have saved myself five whole hours, not to mention the stress I unnecessarily put myself under.
When I was “working for the man”, it was the done thing to be seen to be working on something even if what you were working on wasn’t solving, or at the very least improving, the problem. If we took the time to step back and reassess the situation we’d actually be more productive even though we may feel like we’re wasting time.
Some productivity systems talk about the 30,000 feet view, that is taking a look from high above a situation in order to properly see all that is going on, and hopefully all possible outcomes. I think we need to look at doing this for all situations both big and small. Once we’ve got our overview, we’ll be able to see when we need to sit back and take another look at the situation.
So, next time you’re in a situation that is bogging you down and you think that there may be no solution to your problems, perhaps it’s time to take a step back, take five minutes, 15 minutes, overnight – whatever works for you – and come back to it later; you may find that the solution has been staring you in the face the whole time.