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Structured Thinking 101: How to Apply It to Everything You Do

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

Do you ever face a difficult problem or a tough decision and feel overwhelmed? You’re not alone; we all go through such situations. But, there’s a powerful tool that can help you overcome any challenge with confidence and clarity. It’s called structured thinking, and you already have this skill. In fact, you’ve been using it for a long time and just need to start applying it to more areas of your life: Have you built something with Lego blocks? Assembled furniture? Searched for a job? Chosen a restaurant for dinner? Cooked a meal? All of these require structured thinking. Let’s rediscover it in the next 3 minutes.

What is structured thinking?

Structured thinking is a systematic and organized way of breaking down big problems into smaller, more manageable parts. It's like solving a puzzle: you need a clear framework to analyze the problem, gather information, and find the best solution.

Let's try it out with a common task: planning a trip.

How do you plan a trip that you enjoy? There are many possible answers, but let's keep it simple: the goal is to have a good time. That's step 1: defining the objective.

Now that we know what we want, let's list everything that we need to do to achieve our objective.


These are areas you need to make decisions on: dates, duration, things to do, flights, accommodations, transportation, meals, local events, packing, payment methods, and entry fees to places we want to visit. We also have a budget range, so let’s include that in our elements.


Gather all the relevant information for each element. For example, we research flight durations, flight prices, accommodation options, proximity to places we want to visit, access to cab or public transportation, etc. This step usually takes the most effort because the research is time-consuming.


Analyze and evaluate the information for each element to narrow down your choices later. How many flight options? Can you travel by road instead? How many different experiences do you want to cover throughout your trip? Cash, credit, or debit card? Hotels or Airbnb? You will have more than one option for each element.


Based on your analysis of various options, you start deciding on each element. Your decisions are aligned with your budget and the objective of your trip. By now, you have a clear plan. For example, for a 4-day trip, you will be booking a cab to the airport. You’ll be using local transport at your destination to get to the hotel in the evening. You will then attend a concert and have dinner nearby at a top-rated restaurant. Your plan is taking shape and you can picture yourself experiencing your trip already.


Think of a timeline as a roadmap where you start sequencing your choices. What comes first, then next, and so on. You think about practically every stage. We do this already on our calendars while planning a workday or week. A visual sequence helps you quickly identify conflicts and you can react at the earliest. For example, to take a flight at 9 am, you need to reach the airport by 7 am, factor in travel time to the airport, and wake up accordingly. Day 2 of your trip has a museum visit, a meal at a popular restaurant, a visit to a recommended tourist destination, and a historical monument tour. Is it possible to fit in on day 2? Having all this on a timeline will force you to look at what’s practically possible, make a decision, and defer or abandon experiences that aren’t aligned with your trip's objective.


Execute your plan. Make the bookings and visualize your timeline.

This is where everything comes together and you see the benefits of your planning.

Let's recap: we started with a clear goal and broke it into smaller, manageable tasks. This is structured thinking, and we just created a framework for planning a trip. It's your recipe for planning an amazing trip. If you are happy with how your trip went, you can use this recipe again whenever you want to travel. You would not need to start with a blank planner. You can also improve your framework with time and experience.

You can share this framework with anyone because it's a basic guideline for planning a trip. It doesn't matter which destination, how many people, or what time of the year. It's a structure that you or anyone else can use. You just need to process new information into the same framework you created. When you simplify the concepts into basic and easy explanations, you can relate to them better. The best part? You have done all of this before many times but in your head without realizing it's actually called structured thinking.

Now imagine if you had a framework for everything you need to do regularly. That would be amazing, wouldn't it?

Take a step towards refining your thinking.

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Did you find this read useful? Already brimming with ideas?


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Sandeep Anand Pandey
Sandeep Anand Pandey
Aug 03, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great Article Anirudh ! Thanks for cultivating this structured thinking mindset in me 🙂

Anirudh Kuthiala
Anirudh Kuthiala
Aug 03, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for your feedback, Sandeep. I am glad you found it useful.


Aleksandra Czepierga
Aleksandra Czepierga
Jun 28, 2023

Structured thinking is something we should follow in our daily routine. Life becomes easier when you have a plan. You can feel that the day gets longer and you can do more. Don't waste your time. Structure it.

Anirudh Kuthiala
Anirudh Kuthiala
Jul 07, 2023
Replying to

Absolutely! It's a one time investment that helps us reap the benefits on a recurring basis.

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