5 Tips For Better Problem Solving

Finding a better way to deal with problems. Follow these five helpful lessons.

In our work situation we are prone to many different problems during our day. It might be as simple as a tie-up of traffic on our normal route to work or a simple disagreement with a peer or as major as losing our job. For most issues, we can move on from the moment. However, there are other problems that cannot be let go. Not because it has happened once, but because it has become a pattern.

As Karl Popper, who was a 20th century philosopher of science, once quoted, “All life is problem solving.”

5 Ways to Untangle the Problem:
Problem solving

Let us look at some different ways to crack the problem and arrive at the desired result:

1. Take a Break

If you simply cannot solve a problem, this is the time to get some air. Go to another office or private space, or outside. By removing yourself from the situation, this allows your brain to process the puzzle and figure out a different approach. Or if you have a dispute with an associate and you know that the person will not back down, simply postpone the conversation till later.

Engineering professor Barbara Oakley quoted to the Mother Jones newspaper, “When you are focusing, you are blocking your access to the diffuse mode. The diffuse mode, it turns out, is what you often need to be able to solve an exceedingly difficult, new problem.”

2. Write it Down

If the problem is more serious, try writing down the issue. Often, our brains have a hard time sorting through the feelings before even tackling the solution. Write down the why, what, when, etc. Add to each subtitle with more sensible ideas. Much like an outline you did for an essay in school. Get it all out on paper first. Then, go back and read each entry. Does it make sense? Does it seem like a better approach to ending the problem?

Author Natalie Goldberg quoted, “Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.”

3. Sleep on it

Some problems can not be solved in one day. By keeping yourself up worrying about it, not only is bad for your physical health but worse for your mental health. The National Institutes of Health estimates that up to 30 percent of the general population complain of sleep disruption. Compound that with an unresolved issue, and now you have not only the task of resolving the matter in question but your own poor health to deal with.

4. Discuss the Problem with Others

If the problem is not resolved and you are feeling overwhelmed, sometimes voicing the problem is therapeutic. Call a co-worker, peer, associate, etc. – someone that is close to you that has some understanding of your personality.

When we are emotional, it is hard to see our own wrong approach to the issue. By having a third-party hear the problem, it gives us that moment to release that roadblock and re-focus on the base of the problem more rationally.

5. Tackle it Head-on

This is the moment that you feel ready and your mind is clear enough to solve the problem. This might look like, talking to the co-worker with whom you have an unresolved matter (like convincing your boss for a raise) or as serious as getting up every day to find a new job because you are out of work. When we push ourselves and overcome the hurdle that is holding us back, we are substituting determination for what is clouding our judgement and we are boosting our feelings of satisfaction and lowering our anxiety.

In Conclusion…

As Albert Einstein eloquently summed it up, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Practicing and utilizing these tips will not only assure a more easily resolved conclusion, but your mental health will thank you.

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