When I need to think I usually do one of three things.
1) I shop. Usually when I shop to think, I have to shop alone. I will wander from store to store letting my mind work out my problems. I have no idea why it works but it does. I think it's something about being alone in a place with chaotic activity. It forces my mind to focus. There is also the process of looking for a particular object - say a new skirt - that gives my mind a primary purpose. So while I am looking for a particular item, my subconscious is working through whatever is bothering me.
2) I play my violin. I have never been one of those musicians that can count in her head and really focus on the intricacies of the notes. I tend to learn the rhythm by ear so that I can think about other things while I play. There is a reason that Joshua Bell is Joshua Bell and I work in fundraising. However, practicing is very therapeutic for me. While I am playing various songs, I can think through my problems. If I am upset, I tend to play sad or angry music. The emotion of the music allows me to vent my frustration. Usually by the time I am exhausted, I've played for a couple of hours and I feel a little better. Or at that point, I'm so tired that I no longer care about whatever was bothering me. Either way, I have a respite from my problems.
3) I clean. I am not talking about regular cleaning like washing the floor or dusting. I full on reorganize my life. I will take everything out of my pantry and put it all back in a different order - something that I have deemed more efficient. I will go through all of my clothes and ruthlessly decide to get rid of things. I think this works because it mirrors the problem solving process. At first there is chaos (because the contents of my closet are now all over my bed). Then there is a plan of attack (how do I want to put things back in my closet). This is followed by calculated elimination (keep, dump, and Goodwill piles). And in the end there is a new order (fully organized closet!).
Lately I have had a lot on my mind. I have been playing my violin like crazy, which is good because I had not picked it up in over a year. I'm rusty, but I'm getting a bit better. I have been doing a ton of shopping. This is not so good for my bank balance, but I do have a lot of really cute new clothes now. When you get compliments from strangers, you know it was a successful purchase! This weekend, I am feeling a closet reorganizing cleanse coming on. Hopefully once that is complete, my mind will be fully at peace and all my problems will be solved. If that does not happen, I can always head for the mall. . .