How to think through problems efficently
This article is one I find very helpful when analyzing my own problem solving techniques, please read below.
We are thinking critically and in a problem solving mindset when we:
Rely on reason rather than emotion
Evaluate a broad range of viewpoints and perspectives
Maintain an open mind to alternative interpretations
Accept new evidence, explanations and findings
Are willing to reassess information
Can put aside personal prejudices and biases
Consider all reasonable possibilities
Avoid hasty judgments
Like any other skill, learning to think critically or problem-solve takes time, perseverance and practice. Knowing which steps to take and how to apply them helps us master the process.
Steps to Critical Thinking As It Relates To Problem Solving:
Identify the Problem. The first task is to determine if a problem exists. Sometimes when you think this point through, you may come to the conclusion that there really isn't a problem, just a misunderstanding. If that's the case, fine. If not, and you determine that there is indeed a problem, you need to identify exactly what it is. According to Barry Lubetkin, a New York clinical psychologist, how systematically someone weighs the pros and cons of a problem and how clearly the person can define and state it, is also an indication of highly developed intelligence.
Analyze the problem, look at it from different angles. Once you've determined the problem, analyze it by looking at it from a variety of perspectives. Is it solvable? Is it real or perceived? Can you solve it alone or do you need help? Sometimes by looking at it from many angles you can come up with a resolution right away. You may also reveal a bias or narrow point of view that needs to be broadened
Brainstorm and come up with a several possible solutions. Problems can be solved in many ways. Brainstorm a list of several possible solutions. Put down anything that comes to mind and then go over the list and narrow it down to the best possibilities. Having several viable options leads to obtaining the best results.
Decide which solution fits the situation best. Go over your list of possible solutions. Different situations call for different solutions. Quite often what works in one situation, may not work in a similar one. Take time to determine what will work best for the problem at hand. One solution usually does not fit all.
Take action. Implement your solution. Every problem has a solution; even if it is to accept the situation and move on. Instead of approaching problems and challenges as insurmountable obstacles, we can view them as opportunities to hone our critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Every problem we are able to resolve increases increases self-confidence and self-worth. Thinking critically not only helps us handle future challenges more skillfully, it also broadens our life experience and helps us gain perspective.