I tackle work challenges using design sprints. Not only the type where I assemble my designers in one room and collaborate, but also literal sprints. I mean, I actually go running with the intent of thinking about a design problem that I’m having trouble solving in the normal office environment.
Each day of work for me consists of peaks and troughs of inspiration. Some like to control that wave with process activities like brainstorming or mind mapping. Others ride coffee or sugar highs to great success. It’s all good fodder for the mind and I’ve found that running works well as part of that mix.
I have run time scheduled at regular points in the week, just like meetings. In fact, my runs are booked into my calendar in exactly the same way. I want to make sure I’ve allocated that time. I even label those calendar events “Design Thinking” because, in truth, that’s exactly what I’m doing for that hour.
Changing into sports gear is a mindless activity so I put my brain to use in that time and pick a problem to solve from the huge repository of unsolved design challenges I have in my my memory.
Once I step out the door I let my mind land organically on a specific part of that problem. Running increases the heart rate, heightens oxygen flow to the brain and invigorates thinking. A swift 5k is often enough time to conjure up several solutions. The more successful runs result in me picking a winning idea and working out the steps of how to put it into action.
The benefits of these literal design sprints reach beyond the practicalities of work. Being fit and healthy reduces the perception of difficulty in all of life’s challenges.
For those who lack motivation to exercise I wholeheartedly recommend trying this technique. By occupying your mind with a mental challenge, the physical challenge is not your single focus. This makes the run feel shorter which, in turn, brings the perception of success and an upward spiral of positive attitude.
I would also recommend this technique to those who don’t find the time to exercise. I used to prioritise sitting at my desk when I needed to figure out a solution. This meant I would never actually do that physical activity, despite good intentions. This technique makes legitimate use of work time so I don’t feel guilty about leaving the office. I’m able to exercise every day.
Exercise keeps my body healthy & my mind sharp. Think about doing some exercise as part of your process the next time you need to solve a problem. Set the challenge in your mind before you start and let your body do the rest.
Happy running. =r)