Basic Thinking Tools

Following the post on a simple note-making technique, here are some ideas on basic tools for thinking on paper:

  • a simple symbol and
  • a key question it stands for

– like this:

\overset{\bullet}{\rightharpoonup} stands for “What’s wrong here?”

\overset{\circ}{\rightharpoonup} stands for “What could I do?”

\overset{}{\rightharpoonup} stands for “What would be logical?”

Some remarks.

  1. Most important:
    I see no need to use the symbols all the time – when my work flows without them, everything is fine.
    But when I get stuck, using \overset{\bullet}{\rightharpoonup} = “What’s wrong here?” very often helps.
  2. The symbols are designed for quick writing.
    I gave the question “What would be logical?” the most simple symbol \overset{}{\rightharpoonup} since I use it most often.
  3. The questions are designed to be “fail-proof” in the sense that they should lead to some progress in practically every situation.
  4. The exact phrasing of a question seems to me a matter of personal liking.
    Instead of “What would be logical?” you might try “What would be natural?” or a simple urging “So?!”.
  5. There are countless other possible symbols and questions. The above three questions, with their focus on obstacles, options and next steps, seem essential to me.
  6. As described earlier:
    If the question “What could I do?” leads me to several options that are worth trying, I use for each of them a circle “o” as a reminder for examination. Later I can tick off the options I have tried.

Here’s the next sandbox example – click to enlarge:


Next comes a post on Math Problem Solving Tools.


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