Problem-solving abilities are important in many fields other than math. Many careers demand analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities, from accounting to computer programming to police investigations to more artistic activities like art, theatre, and writing. Individual issues differ, yet there are basic approaches to problem resolution, such as the one given by mathematician George Polya in 1945. You may enhance your problem-solving skills and approach each scenario methodically by following his four principles: identifying the problem, developing a plan, pursuing it, and reflecting on the problem.
1. Clearly define the problem.
Explain what you plan to undertake as a means to an end. What do you hope to accomplish? What do you wish to learn? Remember that you must examine both known and undiscovered difficulties and know where to get the facts in order to reach your goal.
Assume you still have a financial issue. What is your objective? You probably never had enough money to spend on weekends relaxing at the movies or at a pub. So you determine that having more money to spend is a desirable objective. When your aim is clearer, you have defined it better.
2. Define your goal.
Explain what you aim to perform as a means to an end. What are your goals? What are you hoping to learn? Keep in mind that you must evaluate both known and undiscovered challenges and know where to acquire the facts to reach your aim.
Assume you still have a financial problem. What is your goal? You probably never had enough money to go out on weekends and relax at the movies or a bar. So you decide that your aim is to have more money to spend, which is great! When your aim is more apparent, you have defined it more clearly.
3. Gather information in a systematic way.
You should collect as much data regarding the situation as possible so that you have a clear picture of the problem and your aim. Collect data, ask individuals or experts linked to your topic questions, and look for information online, in print papers, or elsewhere. When you have data, organize it. Make an attempt to reword, summarize, or compress it. You could even create a graph representation of it. This phase may be unnecessary for basic problems, but it is critical for more complicated ones.
To handle a money problem, for example, you need have as complete a picture of your financial condition as feasible. Collect information from your most current bank statements and consult with a financial counselor. In a notebook, record your income and spending, and then make an accounting sheet or graph to demonstrate where your money is going.
4. Analyze the information.
The first stage in determining a solution is to examine and evaluate the facts you have gathered about the problem. You will seek for connections and similarities throughout this study to acquire a better picture of the whole scenario. Begin with the raw data. This material may need to be divided into smaller, more digestible chunks or rated in order of value or relevancy. Charts or plans that depict cause and effect linkages are important for this.
Assume you’ve gathered all of your bank statements. Take a look at these. What are your sources of income, how do they look, and when do you get them? What is the situation of your money in general? Do you have credit or debt? Are there any unanswered questions?
5. Look for possible solutions.
Assume you’ve analyzed your statistics and determined that your revenue is behind, which indicates you’re spending more than you’re making. The next stage is to generate a list of potential solutions. You are not required to fix them straight immediately. Consider or identify solutions by, for example, flipping the situation upside down. This entails asking oneself what caused the problem in the first place and then turning your response upside down. You might also ask others what they would do in your situation.
Your issue is a shortage of funds. Your objective is to have more money to spend. What are your proposed solutions? Try to come up with some without judging them. Perhaps you might earn extra money by working part-time or taking out a student loan. You might also save money by reducing your spending or restricting certain charges.
Use some strategies to help you find solutions.
- Divide and conquer. Break the problem down into smaller parts and think of solutions for each part, one at a time.
- Use similarities and analogies. Try to find a similarity to a previous or commonly occurring problem. You may be able to adapt solutions to your current problem now if you find similarities in your situation to one you have dealt with in the past.
6. Evaluate the solutions and make a choice.
Just as you should assess your problem’s basic facts, you should also consider its possible significance. In certain circumstances, this may imply testing or experimenting with a potential scenario. In other circumstances, it may entail a simulation or mentally visualizing the event to view the provided outcomes. Choose the finest option for your needs, one that will function and will not cause further issues.
Where can I get money? Examine your outgoings. You most likely don’t spend much money for lessons, food, and lodging. Can you save money in other ways, such as by finding a roommate to share your rent? may you afford to pay off your college loans simply so you may have fun on weekends? Can you find time to work part-time outside of school?
Each solution will have scenarios that must be assessed. Make a plan. Your financial situation will need the creation of a budget. However, you should also evaluate your own circumstances. Can you, for example, reduce your spending on necessities like food or rent? Will you choose money above education, or will you get into debt?
7. Put a solution into practice.
When you’ve decided on the best option, do this. You might wish to start on a modest scale to see how it goes. You may also go for it straight now. Keep in mind that unexpected difficulties, which you did not anticipate in your initial analysis and review, may surface at this point, especially if you did not organize the problem effectively.
Assume you decide to decrease expenditures because you don’t want to incur debt in order to have free time after school or because you want to acquire a roommate. You create a thorough budget, make a few cuts here and there, and commit to adhering to it in the long run.
8. Review and evaluate the result.
Once you’ve implemented a solution, you’ll need to monitor and evaluate the results. Check to see whether the remedy is effective. Are you on track to meet your objectives? Are you encountering unexpected difficulties? Examine your issue and the strategy for resolving it.
Assume the outcomes of your trial were mixed. You’ve saved enough money for a month’s worth of weekend pleasure. However, new issues have surfaced. You know you must pick between having cash and making essential purchases, such as food. You also require new shoes but are unable to get them due to financial constraints. You may require a different solution.
9. Adjust the situation, if necessary.
Remember that issue solution is a cyclical process. It will generate a number of potential solutions, which must be assessed one by one. When you have solved the problem, you have found a solution that works for you. If not, you should discover another solution and begin again. Examine your initial answer and modify it if it does not work. Try another solution, put it to the test, and see what occurs. Repeat this procedure until the problem is resolved.
Assume that after a month, you decide to abandon your budget in order to save money and choose to work part-time. You get a job near a college. You now have money and may create a new budget without devoting too much time to your academics. You might have discovered a viable answer.
10. Do regular mental exercises.
If you want to build and increase your problem-solving skill, you should train it like you would any other muscle in your body. In other words, you should do it on a regular basis. Mind games have been found in studies to improve mental flexibility. There are several mental games to attempt.
Word games are fantastic. Word jumble, for example, demands you to piece together word fragments that correspond to a specific concept, such as philosophy. In the “Tower of Babel” game, you must recall and match words in a foreign language with the correct picture.
Math games can also help you improve your problem-solving abilities. Word or math games help to activate the more analytical side of the brain. “John is half the age he will be when he is 60 years old than he was six years ago when he was half the age he is now,” for example. How old will John be ten years from now when he is twice as old as he is now?”
11. Play video games.
It has long been argued that video games are for those who are intellectually lazy. However, new study indicates that playing video games can boost cognitive abilities such as spatial awareness, logic, and memory. But not all video games are made equal. Individual shooting games can increase spatial thinking, but they are not as helpful in improving problem-solving abilities as others.
Play a game that requires you to think strategically or critically. Play a puzzle game like Tetris. You might perhaps like a role-playing or strategy game. In this situation, a game like Civilization or Sim City may be more appropriate.
12. Find a hobby.
A pastime is another method to keep your problem-solving abilities sharp. Choose something that requires active problem solving or stimulates the associated brain areas. Begin by studying a foreign language, for instance. Both hemispheres of the brain conduct language processes. When you study a foreign language, you will engage the parts of the brain that govern analysis, as well as thinking and problem-solving abilities.
Puzzles, Sudoku, and chess will also push you to think strategically and logically. Any of these exercises can help you enhance your problem-solving skills.