How to Improve Problem-Solving Skills: 12 Steps

The ability to solve problems is not only used to complete mathematical tasks. Analytical thinking and problem-solving skills are part of many occupations, ranging from accounting and computer programming to the detective profession, and even creative occupations such as art, acting, and writing. Although the problems experienced by each individual are different, there are certain general approaches to problem solving as first proposed by the mathematician, George Polya, in 1945. You can improve your problem solving skills and solve any problem systematically by following the four principles introduced. by George Polya, namely Understanding Problems, Making Plans, Implementing Plans, and Reviewing.

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Part 1 of 4: Understanding the Problem

Step 1. Define the problem clearly

This step seems simple but is very important. If you don't really understand the problem you're trying to solve, the resulting solution will either be ineffective or completely fail. To solve a problem, you have to ask questions and see things from a different perspective. For example, is there just one problem or are there actually several? Can you restate the problem in your own words? By spending time with a problem, you can better understand it and be ready to come up with the solution you need.

Try designing questions. For example, say you have little money as a student and want to find an effective solution to the problem. What is the problem experienced? What is the result of income – because the amount of money generated is not enough? Or because the expenses are too big? Has there been an unexpected expense or has the financial situation changed?

Step 2. Describe the goal to be achieved

State the goal as another way to reach the source of the problem. What do you want to achieve? What do you want to find? Remember to factor in the knowns and unknowns of the problem, and find ways to obtain data that can help in achieving the goals.

Let's just say the problem that is being experienced still includes financial conditions. What is the goal to be achieved? It's possible that you never have enough money to go out on the weekends and have fun at the movies or at the club. The goal that has been set is to have more money to spend. Good! With a clear goal, the problem is described more clearly

Step 3. Collect information systematically

When defining the problem and the objectives to be achieved, collect as many facts as possible so that there is a clear picture of the problem. Collect data, ask other people or experts related to the problem, look for sources on the internet, in writings/articles, or other media. Arrange the data after it is obtained. Try to do this through the rewording step, condensation, or by summarizing it. You can also map src=""https://www.wikihow.com/images_en/thumb/6/6e/Improve-Problem-Solving-Skills-Step-4-Version-4.jpg/v4-460px-Improve-Problem -Solving-Skills-Step-4-Version-4.jpg">

Step 1. Analyze the information obtained

The first step to finding a solution is to look at the data on the problem that has been collected and analyze its importance. When analyzing data, you will look for relationships and interrelationships to better understand the overall situation. Start with raw data. Sometimes, information has to be broken down into smaller, more manageable parts or sorted by importance or relevance. Tools such as charts, graphs, or cause-and-effect models are very useful in performing this step.

Just say that all your bank account statements have been collected. Take a look one by one. When, how, and where does the income come from? Where, when and how was the money spent? What is the overall pattern of your finances? Is there a net surplus or deficit? Are there things that cannot be explained in the financial records?

Step 2. Create possible solutions

Let's say you've looked through the data and found a net financial deficit – that is, spending is greater than income. The next step is to create a range of potential solutions. You don't need to consider those solutions at this point. Try brainstorming, for example, or reverse brainstorming. This can be done by asking yourself, "how can I cause this problem?", then reverse the answer that appears. Also ask other people what they would do if they were in that position.

• The problem that is being experienced is a lack of money. The goal is to have more spending money. What is your choice? Come up with possible options without evaluating them first. Maybe you can earn more money by getting a part-time job or by taking out student loans. On the other hand, try to save by cutting expenses or lowering other costs.

• Share and handle. Divide the problem into smaller parts and find solutions to solve them separately, one by one.
• Use analogies and similarities. Try to find an equation with a similar problem that has been solved before. If you can find similarities between your current situation and one you've faced before, you can reuse some of the solutions from previous problems.

Step 3. Evaluate and choose a solution

Like analyzing raw problem data, the solution options you have must be analyzed according to their suitability. In some cases, this may mean testing scenarios or conducting experiments; in other words, use simulations or “thought experiments” to find out the consequences of a particular solution. Choose the solution that best suits your needs, is most likely to work, and doesn't cause further problems.

• How to improve finances? Look at the expenses section – you don't spend a lot of money beyond basic necessities, such as school fees, food and housing. Can the budget be cut in other ways, for example finding a roommate to share the rent with? Can you take out student loans just for fun on the weekends? Can you make time outside of school to work part time?
• Each solution will result in its own set of states that need to be evaluated. Make a projection. Budgets need to be prepared if you have financial problems. However, spending budgets require personal consideration. For example, could you cut your budget for basic necessities like food and housing? Do you want to prioritize money over school or take out a loan?

Part 3 of 4: Implementing and Assessing the Plan

Step 1. Implement the solution

After choosing the best solution, apply it to real life. First, perform this step on a limited experimental scale to test the results. Or, just apply the full solution. Keep in mind that unexpected problems can arise at this stage, i.e. things that were not planned in the initial analysis and evaluation, especially if the problem is not structured properly.

You decide to cut your monthly expenses because you don't want to take out a loan, split time from school, or live with a roommate. You put together a detailed budget that is deducting a few dollars on some expenses, and commit to a full month of testing

Step 2. Review and evaluate the results obtained

Observe and review the results obtained after applying the solution. Ask yourself if the solutions implemented are working effectively. Does the solution enable you to achieve your goals? Did an unexpected new problem arise? Review the problem and troubleshooting process.

The results of the trials will vary. On the one hand, you've saved up quite a bit of fun weekend activities. But then a new problem arose. You have to decide whether to spend money on weekends or buy basic necessities, such as food. You'll also need a new pair of shoes but, given your budget, can't afford them. In this case, a different solution is needed

Step 3. Adjust the solution if necessary

Remember that problem solving works in a cycle. This step can give rise to a number of different potential solutions, each of which must be evaluated. If the problem can be solved, it means that a suitable solution has been found. If not, look for an alternative solution and restart the troubleshooting process from the beginning. Reconsider the original solution and adjust if it doesn't work. Try the other solution options, then apply, and review the results. Repeat the process until the problem is finally solved.

Part 4 of 4: Sharpening Problem-Solving Skills in More Deep

Step 1. Do mental exercise regularly

Like muscles in the body, problem-solving skills must be honed if you are to improve your strength and function over time. In other words, you have to “exercise” regularly. Research shows that brain games can make the mind more flexible. There are a number of games or activities to try.

• The word game works really well. In a game like “Word Shuffle”, for example, you have to match word fragments to form a word according to a given theme, such as “philosophy”. In the game "Tower of Babel", you are required to remember words in a foreign language and then match them according to the picture.
• Math games can also test their problem-solving skills. Regardless of the problem of numbers or words, the part of the brain that can analyze information must be activated. For example: “James's current age is half what he would have been when he was 60 years older than he was at six years before turning half of what he is today. How old is James after 10 years from half his current age?”

Step 2. Play video games

Video games have long been described by the term “lazy intellectuals”. However, recent research has shown that playing video games can improve areas of thinking, such as spatial perception, reasoning, and memory. However, not all games are created equal. While first-person shooter games (using a first-person perspective) can improve spatial reasoning, they are not as effective as other types in developing problem-solving skills.

Play something that forces the brain to think strategically or analytically. Try a puzzle game, such as Tetris. Or, you may prefer strategy or role-playing games. In this case, games like “Civilization” or “Sim-City” will suit you better

Step 3. Choose a hobby

Hobbies are another way to continually improve your problem-solving skills. Choose a hobby that involves active problem solving or activating a needed part of the brain. For example, start learning a foreign language. Language works on both sides of the brain, so learning it can activate the parts that control analysis as well as reasoning and problem solving. Here are hobbies that can hone problem-solving skills.