How To Think Outside the Box

If you want to know how to think outside the box, you must first know how to think inside it, literally. I wish the steps for how to think outside the box were simply ::

  1. Obtain a box.
  2. Get inside the box.
  3. Think.
  4. Get outside the box.
  5. Think.

Sadly, the term is not a literal term, as you know. But I have a few techniques that have worked for me when I was, well, inside the box, so to speak.

When You’re a Big Cat in a Small Box… Think Outside It

I grew up in a small town and often felt like a big cat in a small box, weighted by a lingering feeling that there must be something more beyond these cardboard walls. I was right. In my “grown up” life, this feeling still creeps up, sometimes in the form of writer’s block, or lack of confidence, or boredom. Here are a few ways I’ve gotten out of the jam so that I could think outside the box again.

Think Outside the Box 01 :: Listen to New Music

If you’re in a jam, you might want to try switching them up… jamz, I mean. Listening to new music can get you into a new groove (pun intended!). I like to turn up something that makes me feel fierce, which lately has been “Bossy” by Kelis. But your mix up could simply be trying out a band you’ve never heard or a genre you rarely explore. I mean, who knows, maybe Mozart has what it takes to get your brain juices dancing. They do say classical music helps you learn.

Think Outside the Box 02 :: Look at Cat Gifs

Seriously, I got the idea for this “think outside the box” blog post from the cat gif you see above! Not only will taking a break from your routine jog you out of a rut, but you may be inspired by what you see. Don’t limit yourself to cat gifs either. Google is your oyster.

Think Outside the Box 03 :: Dance

I’m a performing dancer in another life of mine and sometimes I apply my learnings to my work life. This means when I take a break, I often look in the mirror and shake my stuff, let loose. It makes everything better. You don’t have to be a professional, or even good, to dance, you just have to do it. Start by putting on a fierce tune (see Think Outside the Box 01), then bob your head, tap your toes, get your body into it. Jam out.

Think Outside the Box 04 :: Stop “I Can’t-ing” Yourself

I know what some of you are saying. But, Stephanie, I can’t dance, I don’t know any good music, what’s a gif?. Stop! Yes, you may have questions, you may have fears, you may fail, but there is one thing for sure, you can… at least try. Give it a shot, quiet your inner critic and start small. If Napoleon Dynamite can do it, so can you.

Think Outside the Box 05 :: Read Your Journal

When I feel starved for blog topics, I often read through old journal entries to see if anything sparks an idea. As a writer, I have a lifetime’s worth of material I can reference, but if you don’t keep a journal, old photographs could do the trick, or even old calendars that chronicle your schedule. You could even call your mom or an old friend and reminisce.

Think Outside the Box 06 :: Take a Class

Learning a new skill could be just the ticket you need to think outside the box. I always loved school—nerd alert—I was good at it. But you don’t have to be good a school to take a class. Nowadays you can’t learn in many different forms, even without leaving your home. What’s something you’ve always wanted to try but were too afraid? Get someone to teach you how!

Think Outside the Box 07 :: Get Outside Your Box, Figuratively

Don’t limit your world to four corners and a lid. Get outside your box by trying new things. Travel, go to events, take stay-cations, eat new food. Anything outside of your routine will help you to think outside the box. When you gift yourself a new experience, you add to your repertoire of reference. It’s worth it.

What do you do to think outside the box? Leave a comment and let me know!

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