Have you ever started an email to someone that explains a problem to them, one that you don’t know the solution to, then by the time you finish the email, you’ve realized you have come up with a solution?
Simply writing out a problem where the explanation is as simple as possible (so someone else can understand it), we are clarifying in our mind precisely what the problem is. You likely don’t understand if you can’t explain the situation to someone else.
Understanding the problem is only the first part. Now we try to come up with a solution. Often there are multiple solutions. So, we start listing some potential solutions and thinking through the pros and cons of each solution.
As we write out the potential options to solve the problem, we often eliminate specific options based on what we know about the situation. Perhaps it is a budget issue or an infrastructure limitation. The more we can get down on paper (digital or analog) more likely we are to come up with the best options.
As a Software Architect, this happens to me all the time. So much that I’ve incorporated this into my workflow. When I need to deal with a problem, even if I think I understand the problem, I write it out in the most straightforward explanation possible. Then each option will have pros and cons, and I’ll usually have a recommendation of which option I think would work best or is most reasonable within the current circumstances.
After going through this process, I’ve often solved the problem and realized the best solution we can implement immediately. Clients love being told there was a problem and that you already took care of it. There is also the added benefit of having everything documented.
I’ll write on paper when I’m struggling with something I can’t wrap my head around. This slows me down, so I can spend time thinking as I go. When writing on a computer, it’s easy to spit out words that don’t have as much meaning. On the flip side, a computer makes it easier to delete and reorganize ideas.
Writing out our problems is not only for technical issues; it can work for anything. This is why Journaling is so beneficial.
Writing is thinking.