Examples of Thinking Outside the Box (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

Thinking outside the box is more than a marketing catchphrase. It entails approaching problems in novel ways, conceptualizing problems in new ways, and comprehending your position in relation to any given situation in ways you've never considered before. Ironically, it is a cliché that means to think of clichéd situations in non-cliched ways.

We're constantly told to “think outside the box,” but how exactly do we do that? How do we cultivate the ability to confront problems in ways that are different from the ways we normally confront problems? How do we cultivate the ability to look at things in ways that are different from the way we normally look at things?

This post may contain some affiliate links to products that I use and love. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

Thinking outside the box begins long before we are “boxed in” – that is, long before we encounter a novel situation and begin forcing it into a familiar “box” with which we are already familiar. Or, at the very least, we believe we know how to deal with.

Here are 11 ways to improve your ability to think outside the box. Make an effort to push your thinking to and beyond its limits on a regular basis – the skills you develop may come in handy the next time you face a problem that “everyone knows” how to solve.

1. Research another industry

I've learned just as much about teaching from studying marketing as I have from studying pedagogy – if not more. Go to the library and get a trade magazine from a different industry, or borrow a few books from the library to learn about how things are done in other industries. Many of the problems that people in other industries face are likely to be similar to those in your own, but they have developed very different approaches to dealing with them. Or you might discover new connections between your own industry and the new one, connections that could form the foundation of future innovative partnerships.

2. Study another religion

Religions are how humans organize and comprehend their relationships, not only with the supernatural or divine, but also with one another. Understanding how such relationships are structured can teach you a lot about how people interact with one another and with the world around them. Starting to see the reason in another religion can also help you develop mental flexibility – when you look at all the different ways people understand the same mysteries, and the fact that they generally manage to survive regardless of what they believe, you start to see the limitations of whatever dogma or doxy you follow, a revelation that will transfer quite a bit into the non-religious world.

(((Instant Book Preview of Theory in Health Promotion Research and Practice)))

3. Enroll in a class

Learning a new topic will not only teach you new facts and figures, but it will also teach you a new way of looking at and making sense of aspects of your daily life, as well as the society or natural world in which you live. This, in turn, will help to broaden both your perspective on problems and the range of possible solutions you can devise.

4. Read a novel in a genre you're unfamiliar with

Reading is one of our society's greatest mental stimulators, but it's easy to get stuck in a rut. If you read literary fiction, try a mystery or science fiction novel; if you read a lot of hard-boiled detective novels, try a romance; and so on. Pay attention not only to the story, but also to the author's specific problems. For example, how does the fantasy author overcome your skepticism about magic and draw you into their story? Try to relate those issues to issues you face in your own field. For instance, how might your marketing team overcome your target audience's natural apprehension about a new “miracle” product?

5. Compose a poem

While most problem-solving relies heavily on our brain's logical centers, poetry bridges the gap between our more rational left-brain thought processes and our more creative right-brain thought processes. Try writing a poem about the problem you're working on, even if it feels foolish (and getting comfortable with feeling foolish may be another way to think outside the box). Your poem does not have to propose a solution; the goal is to shift your thinking away from the logic centers of your brain and into a more creative part of the brain, where it can be mulled over in a non-rational way. Remember, no one has to read your poem…

6. Make a drawing

Drawing a picture is even more right-brained, and it, like poetry, can help break your logical left-grip brain's on a problem. Additionally, visualizing a problem engages other modes of thinking that we do not normally use, providing you with an additional creative boost.

7. Turn it inside out

Turning something upside down, whether physically by flipping a piece of paper or metaphorically by re-imagining it, can help you see patterns that would otherwise be invisible. The brain has a plethora of pattern-making habits that frequently obscure other, more subtle patterns at work; changing the orientation of things can hide the more obvious patterns while allowing other patterns to emerge. For example, you could consider what a problem would look like if the least important outcome were the most important, and how you would approach solving it.

8. Begin with the end in mind and work your way backwards

Working backwards, like turning something upside down, disrupts the brain's normal understanding of causality. This is the key to backwards planning, in which you start with a goal and work backwards through the steps required to achieve it until you arrive at where you are now.

(((Instant Book Preview of What New Jerusalem Really Looks Like)))

9. Seek advice from a child

I don't believe that children are inherently more creative before society “ruins” them, but I do believe that children think and speak with a lack of convention that is often beneficial. Ask a child how they would approach a problem, or if you don't have a child nearby, consider how you would reformulate a problem so that a child could understand it if one were available. But don't go out and build a boat out of cookies just because a child told you to – the idea isn't necessarily to do what the child says, but to jog your own thinking down a more unconventional path.

10. Allow for randomness

If you've ever seen a video of Jackson Pollock painting, you've seen a masterful painter purposefully incorporating randomness into his work. Pollock exerts considerable control over his brushes and paddles in order to capture the stray drips and splashes of paint that comprise his work. Embracing and incorporating mistakes into your projects, devising strategies that allow for random input, and working in the midst of chaotic juxtapositions of sound and form can all help to move beyond everyday patterns of thought and into the sublime.

11. Take a bath

Showering and creativity are linked in some strange psychic way. Why is this so? Maybe it's because your mind is elsewhere, maybe it's because you're naked, maybe it's because the warm water relaxes you – it's a mystery. However, many people swear by it. So, if the status quo response to a situation isn't working, take a shower and see if something extraordinary doesn't happen to you!

Related Posts

Overrated Things: It's the opinion of the writer that things are overrated, or at least some things are. Whether it's voting for a politician, buying an expensive car, or paying for the service of a professional athlete, there are many things in life that are touted to be the best, but don't live up to the expectations. The reason why many things are overrated is because of the hype surrounding them. The writer of this article feels this way because these things (stars, cars, and people) are bought on credit and not on merit, and they often lack substance and quality. Read more.

How to Be Better Than Everyone Else: I'm going to tell you a secret about writing amazing content. To be a good writer, you must read. You must read more than everyone else. You must read more than the average amount of people, more than everyone you know, and even more than your mentors. You must read more than your competition. You must read more than you would if you were only trying to gain inspiration for your writing. You must read to be better than everyone else. If you're reading this, then you're already ahead of the game. Reading is one of the most important skills to have as a writer, and you're already doing it. I hope these points will help you! Good luck! Read more.

Don't Care What People Think: Some people spend their entire lives trying to impress others. Constantly caring about what other people think of them is a waste of time. You have to have a thick skin to survive life as a marketer. Even if your product is the best thing out there, you're going to get negative feedback. The important thing is to remain positive and get back to work! Read more.

Have a Good Day at Work: Don't get caught feeling frustrated or upset at work. These negative feelings will only make it harder for you to get your work done. Keep the positive energy flowing by reminding yourself of all the reasons why you do what you do. Are you doing it to take care of your family? Do you enjoy the people that work with you? Might you be doing it for the satisfaction of knowing you're creating something great? Reminding yourself of these things will help you get through even the busiest days at work. Read more.

The Ultimate Guide to Penny Pinching: The age old question in America: how do I save money? You want to save money, but you're not exactly sure how to do it. There are an unlimited range of strategies you can use, but we're going to focus on one that is tried and true. The best way to save money is to pay attention to your expenses. Companies that constantly focus on their expenses are constantly growing, while companies that constantly focus on their income are constantly shrinking. Take a good look at your expenses. How can you cut back? This will help you save money. Content Breakdown Read more.

↓Free Ebook↓

You have heard it all before: "Live life to the fullest", "follow your dreams", "be who you are" and "if it is meant to be, it will be". These are all wonderful quotes that are meant to help you live a happy life but they miss the point. Our lives are interconnected with each other and with the world.

No matter how hard you think you try, there’s always going to be a certain level of stress in your life. And when stress gets out of hand, it can start to negatively affect your life. But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are some easy steps you can take to improve your life in the long run, and we’ve found a few that can help you enjoy a better life and get rid of stress.

Free Ebook