If there was a problem
Yo, I’ll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it
Ice ice baby…

Back in 1990, Robert Matthew Van Winkle — better known to most of us Vanilla Ice — stormed onto the scene with “Ice Ice Baby,” suddenly making rap far more palatable to a mainstream audience (read: largely suburban, Caucasian and young). Some people have even argued that Vanilla Ice is single–handedly responsible for ’90s gangsta rap and modern hip hop.

In this way, did this “solution” to a marketing problem indirectly lead to the eventual deaths of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.? Maybe, maybe not. While I’ll be the first person to tell you that “gangsta rap” and hip hop are not problems unto themselves, the resulting animosity and violence are problems. Have you ever tried to fix a problem, only to create a brand new (and possibly worse) one in its place?

Compression Bags for Travel

You’ve probably seen these around. The idea is you compartmentalize the items you want to pack into various compression bags, and then these bags can be compressed either by rolling or simply by pressing down and zipping them up. They’re cheap enough — you can get a 10-pack for $19 — and they seem to make logical sense. Some travelers swear by them.

And while they may certainly be useful to the right people, they simply encourage you to bring more stuff with you on your travels. Since you can pack more, you’ll feel compelled to pack more. Realistically, a better approach is to reduce how much stuff you bring with you in the first place.

Storage Solutions for Home

This follows the same line of reasoning as above, only on a much grander scale. When you find that you are running out of space in your home for all your stuff, most people typically come to one of two conclusions: either it’s time to move into a bigger place or it’s time to find some great organizational solutions.

Maybe you’ll think about packing away your winter sweaters and thick blankets in underbed storage bags. Maybe you’ll stash away your favorite trinkets and keepsakes in a bunch of bankers boxes. Then, you’ll have more free space… which you will inevitably fill up with more stuff, the exact same result as if you move into a bigger home. If there is a vacant space, you’ll find a way to fill it. Here’s your “new” problem all over again.

Mobile Devices for Communication

Damn you, autocorrect

Smartphones are great. Fast wireless networks are fantastic. The plethora of mobile apps have turned these mobile devices into true powerhouses that can do almost anything our “real” computers can do. No longer are we tethered to our desks in order to get anything done, because we can do it from our phones any time, any place.

Now we can no longer unplug from the matrix, because we’re always expected to be online and available. Why haven’t you responded to the message I sent you on Facebook ten minutes ago? I see that you’ve read it. Why haven’t you followed up on that Slack conversation, that WhatsApp photo, that Twitter DM, those 23 emails I sent this morning?

And don’t even get me started on the wondrous failings of autocorrect, as convenient and as helpful as that technology has become.

Systems for Time Management

In order to keep my professional life reasonably organized and to encourage me to get the most out of my time in front of the computer, I’ve been using Kanban boards and the Pomodoro Technique for the last couple of years. I like to think that it helps with my time management and it provides some guidance on how to stay on track.

These are great work solutions for solopreneurs and other work-from-home professionals in particular. They also create new problems. I’m not nearly as diligent with tracking my time when I’m away from the computer, even if I’m technically “working” on something, so these “work hours” don’t get logged on the Kanban boards. I also start to stress over the numbers (like how much time I’m spending on Project X when I should be focusing on Client Y) rather than the results I’m achieving.

Third Shift for Productivity

It is not at all with a generous helping of irony that I am typing these words during yet another third shift. In my mind, this is the “best” time of the day to focus on my work, because I can be less distracted by personal and family responsibilities.

But the third shift, by most accounts, is both unsustainable and ultimately counter-productive. If I work late into the night, I’ll end up going to bed later and getting poorer quality sleep. I don’t get the rest I need and the cycle renews itself the next day. The third shift feels like a way to fix the time crunch, but it really isn’t.

Have you had any similar experiences where the solutions to your problems just end up causing more problems?