Daily Problem Solving

I know that there must be a large number of situations encountered in a typical day that requires problem solving skills. For the life of me, I can only think of extraordinary situations, ie car won’t start, forgot my wallet at home, etc. All the others are done so routinely that they don’t really seem to involve problem solving, although they do. How about some examples of problem solving situations in encountered in routine daily life.

Someone tosses you an object, while in the air you not only judge it’s trajectory and put your hand in the appropriate place, you also estimate it’s weight and resilience so you know how to catch it without dropping it (ie a tennis ball you need to grab with your fist so it doesn’t bounce, a college text book will require you to bring your hands back as you catch it so you can slow it down and it doesn’t just push your hands out of the way).

Dating? Work/school? Driving fast and/or through traffic? They all require different types of problem-solving.

Juggling my schedule definitely uses problem solving skills.

How about:

One kid needs to be at soccer from 5 pm to 7 pm. The other kid needs to be at piano lessons from 5:30 to 6:30. The venues are 45 minutes apart. You are their only transportation.

(I guess that counts as schedule-juggling)


Maximizing the number of items you can put into the dishwasher.
Determining how to divide up dirty clothes into washing-machine loads.
Casting a fishing lure out into water (placing it where you want it to be).

If the “problem” you are trying to solve is something which occurs regularly, then you don’t need to employ problem-solving skills to deal with it – you just apply the same solution you used the previous time it came up. Any situation for which you need to come up with an original, creative solution, is by definition going to be an extraordinary one.

Every time I move from point to point in the house or the office, what do I take with me? What should I bring back? Should I go back and forth between two points or is there a benefit in cycling through 3 or more? How many things can I carry? Is the penalty for carrying too much weight or the penalty for making excess trips worse? While I am in transit, can I think about the progression of the day to take note of anything I am missing or forgetting or underemphasizing? What’s that smell? (Note, the last one generally takes the form of a safety question when I am at work, but at home it more often has to do with a cat.)

I work out of my house so I don’t really have the need - or opportunity - to go out in the car every day. I also use this as an excuse to drive an SUV instead of a little sedan - hey, I don’t use that much gas!

So, 2 or 3 days a week I do need to go out and do stuff - pick up dinner, get cigarettes, pick up prescription, get groceries, get such and such and whatnot.

I use my skillz to figure out the best route, the best time to go, do I need to get cash, and what all can be accomplished on a single trip using the least amount of gas.

When do I get up? If I get up now, I can get in a run while it’s still cool, but if I keep hitting the snooze or reset the alarm…do I take my sweet allotment of heaven 9 minutes at a time and have to drop some items off the morning priority list, what I want, need, should get done, etc.

Coffee maker: how much water & how much coffee since the ratios are important. So how much coffee will we want & can drink given how much time we have.

Shower: pee & brush my teeth while showering? Make sure I’ve got the brush & paste & a clean towel. Is it clean, how many times has it been used?

Clothes: what’s the weather? Dress appropriately, and if there are weather changes expected, choose & pack appropriately for the days events.

When to leave the house to get where I need to go, what to eat based on appetite and feeling and previous eating…

I may be diluting your definition of problem solving. Every moment is a choice and our days are filled with countless decisions so small they pass unnoticed–until something doesn’t turn out the way we’d like. :wink: