No matter your job, family situation, and general station in life, problem-solving is bound to be a regular part of your daily routine. Everyone would like to live a care-free existence, but problems are an inevitable side effect of participating in society. Luckily, there are plenty of effective strategies for solving the many problems that life throws your way. Here are six creative ways to overcome the next obstacle you face.
Try the Six-Step Model for Solving Problems
Some people find it easiest to solve a problem when they look for a solution in a linear fashion. If you think you might fall into this category, consider taking these six steps:
- Define the problem as precisely as possible.
- Identify what’s causing the problem.
- Make a list of potential solutions.
- Pick a solution to try from the list.
- Put the solution into practice.
- Assess whether the solution was successful.
While this process is often linear, you can also go back and cycle through the steps. By jumping back to amend previous assumptions, you’ll make it easier to understand and solve the problem.
Adopt the Drill-Down Strategy
To solve a problem, you need to understand the deepest causes. In the drill-down strategy, you start by writing the problem on a piece of paper. Then, to the right of the problem, write out the immediate cause. Next, to the right of this immediate cause, write out an even deeper cause. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the root cause of the entire problem. You can then work toward a solution that’s aimed at resolving the underlying issue.
Give Reverse Brainstorming a Shot
Instead of brainstorming potential solutions to your problem, think of ways you could make the problem worse. Once you have a list of terrible ideas, you can flip them on their heads to produce possible solutions. This counterintuitive strategy is great for coming up with clever, out-of-the-box ideas.
Rather than starting from your current predicament and planning ahead, try beginning with your ultimate goal and working backward. Think of where you want to be in the future, and then imagine the succession of steps you’ll need to get there. Once your thought experiment arrives back at your present condition, you can take the first step and start working toward your goal.
Enlarge the Problem
While it might seem crazy, you can solve your problem by making it even bigger. When you intentionally blow issues out of proportion, you make it easier to prioritize them and see them as a consequential part of the big picture.
Let Yourself Sleep on the Issue
There’s no sense in trying to solve a problem when you’re stressed out, upset, and exhausted. Research shows that a good night’s sleep gives your brain the extra power it needs to find creative solutions to pressing dilemmas. Sometimes, sleeping is the most productive thing to do.
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