Helpful Thinking: “A Flow Chart”

The reason I created these particular pages: I created these “thinking flow charts” a few years ago…when I was commuting to and from work each day, my mind tended to drift into thinking about a variety of challenges or problems, often about trying to help or “fix” problems for other people….One thought led to another and often led into unhelpful, hypothetical thinking. I wanted to learn to become more aware…as I was realizing that I was drifting off into “non-useful” thinking…

And so to learn to:

  • pause
  • reflect on each criteria about whether this particular thinking was useful
  • to choose to stop thinking about that, if it wasn’t meeting that criteria
  •  to continue to the next criteria, if the previous criteria was met

I printed some of these pages and taped them in a variety of spots: under the radio in my car…as a reminder as I drive,to be careful about my mind drifting into unhelpful areas… on walls  in  my classroom and in our home, as another re-minder for myself.

Pdf of that page: “Productive Thinking” Productive Thinking Flow Chart

A variation on that first flow chart….it became a challenge to try to make a useful chart…

Pdf: Thinking Flow Chart, Good Thinking, forest background  Thinking Flow Chart, Good Thinking

Another variation….

Pdf: Thinking Flow Chart, blue background Thinking Flow Chart, blue background


Another variation….

Thinking Flow Chart “Go for it”  Thinking Flow Chart, no and okay along sides

From what I’ve figured out,  shifting out of  “ruminating”  seems to  involve:

  • Motivation: for the benefit of  those around me, as well as myself
  • Simple visual materials:  to re-mind me to use the ideas
  • Awareness:  noticing when I start drifting off into non-useful thinking
  • Logic and reasoning: being able to look and think about those criteria, both out of the situation and when it’s happening
  • Practice…again and again and again: there don’t seem to be short cuts…for me, it seems to take tons of practice
  • Notice the positive progress: I’m finding that the results of focused practice are positive, ongoing and well worth the effort…

And here is a simple version, below… 2 on a page...this is the one taped to the dashboard of my car… 

Pdf: Thinking Flow Chart: 2 columns  Thinking Flow Chart, Two Columns

And “pocket reminders”…cut into 2 columns, above, or 4  columns, below…folded in my pocket or purse…or on a cupboard door…or bookmarks…or taped to the computer…or where ever ruminating might be a challenge…

Pdf: Thinking Flow Chart 4 columns, bookmark Thinking Flow Chart bookmark, 4 columns 

Related pages: most of the pages in the top headline “Pull Weeds” section have specific pages about a number of these ideas….it seems to be taking me sooooo much work and practice to shift out of less productive ways of thinking and reacting…sooooo much work and practice….sigh, it’s kind of hard at times, but the changes are good… so that’s good.

Please, feel free to skip the explanations below and just scroll down to the actual charts…the charts are  self explanatory….( many pages related to steps in these charts are in the “Pull Weeds” headline tab.)

A very important part of what I do as a school resource specialist is:

  • Identify complex social or academic topics that are important for the students or myself  to understand
  • Identify a sequence of  progressive critical components within that topic
  • Simplify the sequence and principles  as much as possible: they need to fit on one page, for ease of use and remembering
  • Create simple, usable “pages”  for the ideas to be taught and remembered…
  • I’ve found it to be very important for the materials to be “eye catching” and interesting to look at: bright, colorful with some symbol or images  in them
  • Print out the materials and put them up in places where students or I will see them
  • Review the pages on a regular basis, when there aren’t problems
  •  Refer back to the pages when problem situations arise.

11 Responses to Helpful Thinking: “A Flow Chart”

  1. Peter says:

    This is very helpful. It would be nice if everyone could develop these skills.


  2. Most excellent and kind of hilarious that you went to so much effort to visualize it all.


    • thanks….I was causing myself so much unhappiness with worry and less-than-positive thinking about family members’ and work problems that I was extremely motivated to try to come up with some type of system I could use to stop that sequence of thoughts. Then it got to be kind of fun to try to get it all onto one page in a colorful, appealing manner…a personal challenge…great distraction from negative thinking to create those! I wanted them to look “cheerful” …to try to bring some lighness to a problem that was bringing lots of difficulties. It was very helpful. Some people do crossword puzzles…I like making charts or other kinds of pages…ones I can use.


  3. Well I quite enjoyed it, so job well done I’d say! This will be what comes to mind when the wheels of my mind start grinding…


  4. Jackie Paulson says:

    I love these, do you have pdf to send to my email? I’d love to share these.


    • Hi Jackie, I’ll search through my computer files and see what I can find…as you can see, I’ve created lots and lots of “pages”….and keeping track of which pages are in which computer/hard drive sometimes gets a bit confusing….my creativity/production seems to have surpassed my organizational levels/filing system. Are there some, in particular, that you’d like? Kathy


    • Hi Jackie, I added pdf links under each chart…I think the pdf’s match the charts…I had lots of variations…I must have been having fun with the challenge of getting all that info onto one page! (I see I created them in January 2010…a time when I was in the midst of some confusing situations in my life, and hence those charts… : ) )


  5. Pingback: “Productive thinking”….learning to use “more helpful thinking choices” | Pocket Perspectives

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