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5 easy ways to improve your problem-solving skills

  • The reality of life is such that we're never out of problems to solve. Life itself is nothing but a continuous succession of problems or challenges that make us better versions of ourselves.

    Looking at this fact, we can infer that improving our problem-solving skills is tantamount to improving our skill at life. It also means improved brain power because the two always go hand in hand.

    What's more is that problem-solving is one of the most important soft skills that employers look out for in a prospective employee and research has shown that the demand will only increase with time.

    So here are 5 simple ways you can improve on this super important skill:

    1. Play complex puzzle games

    Playing puzzle games like Sudoku, chess, crossword and Rubik's cube can help give your brain a nice workout, help you think differently and improve your ability to see things from different perspectives. 

    A study by Nanyang Technological University shows that “complex puzzle games" in particular, can improve executive function of the brain more than any type of game.

    It's not hard to see how this can help improve your problem-solving skills over time.

    2. Dance away

    Different forms of dance have been shown to improve different forms of problem-solving through the development of new neural pathways in the brain.

    When people engage in improvised kinds of dance, it helps them with divergent thinking whereby they're able to come up with multiple answers to a problem. When they engage in very structured dance, however, it helps with convergent thinking, i.e coming up with a single solution to a problem.

    3. Keep track of your epiphanies

    Many times, our subconscious mind hand us the solutions to nagging problems on a platter, in form of epiphanies. A study by Scientific American has shown that these solutions are much more effective and accurate than the ones we come up with through deliberate analysis.

    The problem, however, is that epiphanies can go up in a puff of smoke as easily as they come, which is why it is important to keep track of them by always writing them. You can go back to them from time to time for inspiration.

    4. Have consistent good sleep

    When you have a nagging problem that refuses go away, you're advised to sleep on it.

    This is because there are so many times when after a good night sleep, we wake up and there's the answer we've been looking for, right there in our head as clear as day.

    This is because, during REM sleep, which is one of the stages of sleep, our brains make new and useful connections between unrelated ideas.

    5. Learn to think in opposites

    Sometimes you can find the solution to a problem by looking at it from an opposite point of view. It works by helping you break away from the cognitive rut that can arise from being fixated on finding one solution to your problem. 

    You now can see and consider new perspectives that were not otherwise available to you.

    Example of ways you can think in opposites

    a. You're trying to figure out how to make money, think of all the different ways to spend it.

    b. You're trying to figure out how to make your child behave, consider all the ways you can make him/her misbehave.

    c. You want to make your life easier, think of how you can make it harder.

    See? It's easy and it works.

    Following these simple tips will help improve your problem-solving skills and thus make your life a lot easier.

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