Have you ever sat down at a computer screen or maybe a piece of A4 paper with a determination that you will ‘get that report written’ come what may. Days or perhaps weeks later you are still in exactly the same position. You need to be more effective, but how?
Why is that, especially when you know everything there is to know on the subject, you have your conclusions all ready and your boss has made their impatience obvious. You still can’t do it though, can you?
I have been the victim of this in the past and have observed this in those around me more recently. So what can be done about it?
Some readers will swear blind that a change of scenery will help and that the answer will come to them. At the risk of being controversial, I suggest that the change of scenery itself will not do the trick.
But in the process of changing the scene or moving around, something else is likely to change, your focus.
First of all, let us rewind a bit and take a look at the generic creative problem-solving process. In order for things to work efficiently, we need a series of divergent and convergent phases. First, work out what the problem might be (produce a range of causes) then work out what the cause actually is.
Similarly, we do the same with the solution to the problem.
So how do we relate this to our report writing scenario? Well, let’s go straight to the point where we are stuck. You have the facts, the conclusions, in fact, you have everything apart from a structure.
You also have a piece of paper or a laptop screen which is a bit like a small window. You are struggling to see something larger but through a small letterbox.
To help make things easier you can do any or all of the following:
- Use a larger piece of paper (try flipchart)
- Swap to your desktop PC with a 19inch monitor
- Gather your thoughts in a non-linear fashion i.e. a mindmap
All of these will allow you to see the bigger picture. You are really just tricking your brain but widening the scope will make things easier. It will help you to be more effective.
When you have got your thoughts in order then you can bash out your document.
Those in Marketing might use storyboards (still linear but the steps can be modified or re-sequenced easily). Video and TV directors may very well do the same thing (ever wondered how a film director can shoot scenes out of sequence and still create a great film).
In a nutshell, widen your scope, get all the bits in focus then create your masterpiece.
Think like a film director!