Methods of Problem-Solving

Throughout our lives, we are bombarded by problems that we solve through various tried-and-true methods, subconsciously or not. In other words, we are all capable of building our problem-solving skills and becoming resilient to new obstacles. As exams come closing in, it’s not always about what you know but how you use that knowledge when needed.

So, to help train our problem-solving minds and adapt to any academic mock, exam, or coursework, check out this list of methods…

Methods to Problem-Solving

1. Take Things Step-by-step

Have you ever sat with a problem, staring at it for ages, not getting anywhere? You scan each little detail, but your brain just can’t focus or take in the information. The best step in this situation is to leave. The problem, even those with deadlines, won’t go anywhere. Having a break does not need to take long. Go and grab a coffee or a snack, the point is to take yourself away from the problem. This creates an opportunity for you to relax your mind and break down that wall. 

2. Keep at It

This may sound like the complete opposite of what we just said but hang in there. One of the most effective problem-solving methods is trial and error. When you’re learning something new, the likelihood of you being great from the start is very low. The most important thing is being able to motivate yourself to keep on trying.  If you have a 3-digit lock, and try all 1,000 combinations, you’ll eventually get in!  When faced with a problem, consider all potential answers and brute force it. Stuck on writing about the meaning behind Of Mice and Men? Check out the film, YouTube videos, and the library. Ask around for help, work the problem as a group and eventually you’ll be writing about how it’s weird we never learn Curly’s wife’s name. Take notes throughout the process; how you solve this problem can solve a future problem! 

3. A New Perspective

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase to think outside the box. Sometimes looking at things from a new angle can help highlight a solution to a problem – it might even be rather obvious! Let’s use a Rubix cube as an example. It’s quite satisfying when you can get all the colours on one side of the cube to match, but then you get stuck. The other sides are mixed up, yet changing it only diminishes the colours you’ve already matched. Instead of focusing on the sides, shift your perspective onto getting the corners in the right positions! Sometimes success requires you to change your approach, so instead of twisting the Rubix cube, why not just break it apart and rebuild it? If you’re facing a problem, get creative – think about what could do to achieve the results you need. 

4. Be Smart and Detailed

Learn everything there is to know about the problem, break it down into bits and plan accordingly to resolve each part. Planning is a great method to include collaborative problem solving, much like when you are on a group project for a presentation! Splitting the slides between you, and working on your own subjects, ultimately creates the finished full slideshow.

5. Compromise and Adapt

When we think of compromise, we mistakenly consider it as defeat. The solution was not resolved, so instead, you did something differently. But instead, reframe the way you think about compromise. Think of it as adapting. The solution was not possible how you wanted it, so instead you found an alternative that did work. It takes a grown, resilient mind to accept when things need to change. Things don’t always go to plan and that’s okay! However, restricting yourself to a singular idea can limit your growth and potential.

How Problem-Solving Benefits You

Learning how to problem solve is a fantastic skill that requires creativity, ingenuity, organisation, and taking control in a situation. Taking challenges head-on encourages personal development, creating a resilient and positive mindset. What we also learn is to take the failures before the successes, overcome additional issues, and control natural stress responses.

Your response to problems will no longer be flight; instead, you’ll be ready to fight! If you are still unsure what to do or how to start your personal growth in problem-solving and resilience in the face of a challenge, check out our programme Reboot Your Resilience. It is designed to keep you stress-free and practice the self-care needed to become stronger!

Listen to our podcast!

Z to A of Life Skills Podcast with Mark and Jules Kennedy.

Follow us on social media!

More to explore