Wasting Time Solving Problems We Don't Understand

We are all very capable of wasting time. Everyone has their peak effective time. Some can crank out work really well in the morning. Some do their best work at night when it is quiet and there are no distractions. For some of us it is very easy to get sucked into a conversation that isn't actually relevant to your job. Social media and binge watching Netflix are other obvious time wasters.

When it comes to being at work, one of the biggest time wasters I've found is when you are trying to solve a problem but you don't really understand what the problem is. I love to solve problems, finding solutions is the most rewarding part of my job. But when the problem isn't understood, trying different solutions is just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

One of the simplest ways to get to the root cause of a problem is using the 5 whys. The idea is to keep asking why until you get to the true root cause. They say 5 because at a minimum it forces you to dig deeper than we naturally tend to, nothing stops you from going beyond 5 though.

Getting to the root cause of a problem allows you to be more effective in solving it. I'm sure you've been in the situation where you've tried multiple solutions yet the problem remains. If you find yourself stuck in an endless cycle of failed attempts you are probably at a point you need to step back, dig a little deeper and figure out what the real problem is.


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