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6 Awesome Ways to Enhance Your Problem-Solving Skills

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Being able to solve problems is one of the greatest skills that an entrepreneur can have. But what if your brainstorming sessions lack that certain spark? Or what if your problems are piling up with no viable solutions in sight?

If you’re wondering how to improve your problem solving skills, here are just six techniques that should do the trick:

1. Listen to music

Studies have been mixed on whether or not music can help you with complex cognitive processing. If you need to pull yourself out of an unproductive funk, however, music is even better than a grappling hook. It will lower your blood pressure, regulate your heartbeat and release feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

In short, it’ll have such a positive impact on your psychological state that it’ll act as a cleanser for stress and anxiety. Once you’ve pushed aside these negative emotions, your brain is free to focus on your problems without distraction.

2. Encourage shower thoughts

Have you ever wondered why your best thoughts always come in the shower? It’s because you aren’t thinking so hard. Your mind is free to wander down distant and unconventional paths that you’d normally reject, so you’re able to come up with out-of-the-box solutions to difficult problems because you aren’t burdened with the constraints of your rational mind.

The good news is that you don’t have to be in the shower to unlock this potential. You can exercise, meditate, go for a walk, listen to music or just sit on a park bench and let your thoughts drift. What you’re physically doing is less important than the fact that you’re mentally free.

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates

3. Pretend it’s opposite day

Lateral thinking is a much-touted process in the business world, but if you’re a more deliberate, strategic sort, it can be difficult to train yourself to think in lateral ways. One solution is to approach your problem from the complete opposite point of view. Here are a few examples:

  • If you’re trying to figure out the cheapest way to do something, figure out the most expensive way to do it instead.
  • If you want to make something smaller, think about how to make it bigger.
  • If you want to retain customers, brainstorm methods that would actually drive them away.

By focusing on the negative mirror of a problem, you can force yourself to consider new perspectives and break out of your cognitive rut. Try it! It costs nothing, and it might just fix your troubles.

4. Play complex puzzle games

Multiple studies have shown that games are good for you. From improving your memory to increasing your attention span; games of all types have been associated with positive cognitive benefits. But did you know that puzzle games in particular are helpful to your problem-solving skills?

In a study by Nanyang Technological University, different groups of participants were given different types of games to play for an hour each day. The “complex puzzle” games were shown to improve executive function more than any other kind. If you’re looking to stimulate your brain with the maximum amount of results, try something like a crossword or serpent cube puzzle.

“A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.” – C.S. Lewis

5. Use props

Consider your last brainstorming session. Did it involve lots of pens, notepads and binders? Was there anything more creative on the table than a traditional paper product? If you keep using the same tools, you can’t be surprised that you always come to the same solutions. Try something a little different with your next group strategy session.

Use photos, toys, trinkets and other knick-knacks to inspire your imagination and get some new ideas flowing. It’s an unconventional solution for the problem of how to improve problem solving skills, but it’s a highly effective one.

6. Track your epiphanies

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably had your fair share of “eureka” moments. Don’t let yourself be talked out of them by skeptical investors or colleagues. According to research by Scientific American, sudden epiphanies have a better track record for accuracy and relevance than ideas that come through deliberate analysis.

This is because of the “all or nothing” way that the brain produces ideas and solutions, and it’s supported by research done with EEG and MRI scans. If you’re trying to figure out a difficult problem, it’s worth your while to write down all of your “aha” moments. They might just contain the key to cracking the entire code.

These are just a few ways to improve problem solving skills. There are many more, of course, but these should be enough to kick-start your creativity and invigorate your cognitive processes. Don’t be afraid to use these ideas as a springboard for further greatness, either. If your imagination wants to take you on a journey, your best bet is to buckle up and enjoy the ride.

How have you enhanced your problem solving skills? Leave your thoughts below!

Alicia Hill had an opportunity to teach ESL Students in Thailand for 3 years. Along the journey of her teaching jobs in Thailand, she has bettered herself in the understanding of cultural diversity and developed her love in helping others. At the present, she is traveling in Asia, and works as a part-time creative writer for businesses, including SiamMandalay, the Thai wood puzzles and handicrafts manufacturer and distributor.

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Success Advice

Mindful Productivity: How Top Achievers Combine Focus and Balance

By being aware of your emotions, thoughts, and surroundings, you can work with your internal and external environments

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Your big-dream goals matter … but not at the expense of your health. (more…)

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Change Your Mindset

The Art of Convincing: 10 Persuasion Techniques That Really Work

The knack for persuading others can act as a catalyst for change, open doors, forge alliances, and effect positive change

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how to be more persuasive

Persuasion is not as complicated as it may sound. In fact, it is something that we have been practicing since childhood. Do you remember convincing your parents to let you skip school, asking your teacher not to assign homework, or persuading your boss to give you a day off? Well, these are just small examples of what persuasion looks like. (more…)

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5 Steps to Leveraging Industry Speaker Events for Career Advancement

Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it

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How to advance your career by networking

Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it. It’s not just about sitting in a room full of people. You’ve got to find the ones that fit your career puzzle, dive in while you’re there, and then make the most of what you’ve learned afterward. (more…)

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Success Advice

Overcoming Plateaus: 6 Powerful Strategies for Breakthrough Success

A plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears

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In the pursuit of personal and professional growth, plateaus are inevitable. They appear when progress seems to halt, despite your continuous efforts. But remember, a plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears. This article provides six powerful strategies to overcome plateaus and achieve breakthrough success.

1. Find Out the Root Cause

When facing a plateau, there is likely something causing you to sabotage your progress. Identify the root cause. What is sabotaging your progress? Examine your daily routine and how you spend your time. Are you wasting time on unnecessary activities? Or are you taking on too many tasks that you can’t handle?

Often, adding more tasks overloads your already tight routine and distracts you from focusing on the most important tasks. Therefore, often eliminating unnecessary activity will work to overcome plateaus. However, be cautious of not doing things right, such as tasks you have not yet undertaken or missing something. What actions do you need to take or improve to achieve your goal? Are you avoiding them, or have you not started yet?

2. Never Tolerate Problems

Once you’ve identified the root cause, never tolerate problems. If you tolerate them, you’ll end up staying stuck. You get what you tolerate. Once you recognize the problem you’re facing, never tolerate it. Instead, address and improve the situation.

3. Focus on a 100% Solution and 0% Problems

To overcome a challenge, it’s essential to plan how to get through it. Yet, people often find themselves asking, ‘Why is it bad?’ or ‘What is wrong with it?’ Questions of this nature limit our thinking, leading our brains to generate responses like ‘Because you’re not good enough’ or ‘Everything is wrong with you.’ These limited answers tend to resonate with the situation and drag you down further.

Instead, ask empowering questions without limits, such as ‘What is not perfect yet, and how can I turn things around while making a more positive impact?’ By asking unlimited empowering questions, you’ll shift your focus from the problem to the solution. Additionally, you will also notice that asking empowering questions can expand available options and allow you to see from an angle you couldn’t see before.

Focusing on problems rarely yields positive outcomes. The key to positive results lies in concentrating on the solution. The next time you face adversity and notice getting caught by unresourceful thoughts, snap out of it and direct your focus to a 100% solution and 0% problems.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

4. Cultivate Success-Driven Traits

Identify the traits you need to have and get rid of to become the person you aspire to be. Consider your specific goals – for instance, attracting positive relationships. To achieve this, note down the traits you need to embrace, such as being open-minded, gentle, healthy, and treating others the way you want to be treated.

Cultivate a positive mindset. Simultaneously, get rid of traits like criticizing others, having a short temper, and engaging in unhealthy habits like taking drugs.

Learn from individuals who have achieved similar goals. Study their traits, both the ones they have and those they’ve consciously avoided. Implement these traits to align with the person you want to become.

Once you have your lists of traits to embrace and eliminate, diligently follow them. Place the list on your desk or the door of your room, ensuring you read it at least once a day to reinforce your commitment to these traits.

5. Track Your Habits

Carry a notepad to track your habits throughout the day, especially those contributing to plateaus, as well as your new habits or traits aligned with achieving your goals. For instance, if your root cause is excessive internet use, record instances of mindless scrolling on social media. Note when you engage, the emotional state prompting it, and the approximate duration.

Calculate the total minutes wasted at the end of the day. This habit tracking makes you aware of the emotions triggering these behaviors (stress, boredom, and frustration) and the time wasted.

Additionally, track positive new habits, like reading good books and exercising. Document what you’ve learned from the book and the time spent exercising. This practice helps you build new positive habits by enabling you to compare today’s results with those from yesterday or a week ago. 

Moreover, consistently sticking to new habits for around 18 months transforms them into lifelong habits. Even if you take breaks, you will find yourself naturally returning to those habits.

6. See Obstacles as Opportunities

Every obstacle can be an opportunity to turn things around. If the economy is in a downturn, it’s time to recognize it as an opportunity to thrive while everyone else is struggling and focused on the problem. If someone makes fun of you or causes you trouble, ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this experience?’

Alternatively, consider that the person underrating you is setting low expectations, which are easier to exceed. If your business receives a bad review from a customer, see it as free feedback that guides you on how to improve and take your business to the next level.

Always try to see different angles that others may overlook. This perspective can reveal aspects you might be missing. When you view a problem as an opportunity, it has the potential to foster growth.

In the journey toward success, plateaus are just temporary pauses, not dead ends. So, keep moving, keep growing, and make your breakthrough.

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