Think Small to Solve Big Problems, with Stephen Dubner



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Solve most of your problems by solving just one

Posted in: January 30th, 2009

This month I broke my record for the most traffic to my blog. Ever. About 375,000 page views. Hooray. Ironically, I spent most of the month garnering high-traffic by writing about what a hard time I’ve been having. So I want to take a day to pat myself on the back, because if I only write about the stuff I struggle with, I start to feel one-dimensional here. Or three-dimensional, but a 3-D mess.

Anyway, for most of last year, I struggled to blog regularly and run the company and be around for my kids. Finally, this month, when the company has been more difficult than ever, I managed to start blogging four times a week again. This is the result of trying a new time management trick every week, for months and months, until I figured out a system for getting the blog posts done. What finally worked was examining the other problems I was having in my life, and solving those first.

That shouldn't surprise you. Because the research about problem solving is that if you start targeting any problem in your life, and nail it, all the other problems become easier. There are problem solvers and problem sufferers. And most problems are not unique, so you need to just start tackling them to fall into the first category.

So I started tackling. First, I fixed my company. Instead of stressing that we won’t get funding, we decided to fund ourselves with profits from consulting. We have a consulting business that helps companies attract and retain top young talent. That strategy has allowed us to continue to grow our network of bloggers, which is now about 700.

Next problem—yelling at my kids. I’m sure other people have this problem, but no one is blogging about it. Of course no one is, because it feels so crappy to admit. And my kids are young, so when I yell, it is really heartbreaking to see the reaction on the kids’ faces, especially my three-year-old. But this month I’ve been able to stop. It’s an especially big accomplishment because I’m sure my yelling is actually me taking my stress out on them, and there's been plenty of stress on me lately.

Once I stopped yelling, I felt more able to tackle the blogging problem. So now I’m on a roll. And I’m thinking about the next problem to solve. I think it’s going to be listening. I’m a terrible listener. I’ve been noticing myself not listening. And I've been noticing that it’s painful to have to wait until someone finishes a sentence. To make sure this problem should be next, I asked Ryan Healy, “Do you notice that I go on and on talking way after someone has lost interest?” He looked at me, to make sure I was really asking, and then he said, “Yeah.”

So I’m happy to have a day to toot my own horn. It’s been a month of success in ways that have surprised and pleased me. And I'm on a roll. Hooray.






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Date: 09.12.2018, 06:24 / Views: 35395