Helpful Problem Solving Strategies

How To Tackle A Problem And Win With A Strategy

That feeling when you solve a problem that’s been nipping away at you like an angry lobster, is like no other. You can finally take a breath and get on with living. 

Problems can be seen as either a stopper or as an opportunity to better yourself and your response to life’s future problems. 

How can you see problems as an opportunity? 

Take some time to learn our problem solving strategy to help you tackle any issue head-on. If you nail it you could experience less stress, whilst maintaining control of your emotions. And once you’ve found the solution to solve the issue, you’ll be able to bid adieu to that nipping lobster and send it back to sea. 

The Peak approach to problem solving 

  • Identify the priority problem

Example: I cycle to work to save money but my bike is broken and it’ll cost me £300 to fix it which I don’t want to pay. That’s my priority problem right now.

  • Pinpoint why this is a problem 

Example: It’s a problem because I don’t want to pay to get my bike fixed. I don’t want to pay because the point of cycling to work was to save money, now I’ll be spending more money on getting it fixed. It’s the principal.

  • Deep dive into the problem: Are you being honest with yourself? 

Example: The issue isn’t really that it’s the principal, it’s actually that I can’t afford to pay to get it fixed. 

Here you’re finding out the core problem which may have been camouflaged by something else. Does this underlying issue trigger problems in other areas of your life too? Discovering this allows you to tackle other problems and to take a step back and realise that this problem may not be as big as you first thought. 

  • Look at your options to solve the problem and their implications. Then colour code the pros and cons

Example: 

Which option looks the greenest? That will probably be the best option to solve my initial problem. 

  • Take time to dream!

Example: I’ll get to bed early tonight so I can dream and potentially benefit from the high activity in my brain whilst I sleep.

New York Academy of Sciences commented in their recent dream research that “Dreaming is essentially our brain thinking in another neurophysiologic state-and therefore it is likely to solve some problems on which our waking minds have become stuck. This neurophysiologic state is characterized by high activity in brain areas associated with imagery, so problems requiring vivid visualization are also more likely to get help from dreaming.”

By sleeping on it, you’re actually giving your brain time to digest the problem which could help you to choose between your colour coded options or even think outside the box.  

  • Work on timings

Example: Realistically I’ll be able to raise the £350 and get my bike fixed in a month. I worked this out by the following:

Today is August 5th, get tech on Ebay by August 10th, sell tech by August 17th , send tech August 19th, get funds by August 21st and get bike in to be fixed by the end of the month. 

  • Ask for help. People love to help. 

Example: I can’t use Ebay to sell my stuff, I know my sister is great at it so I’ll ask her to help.

  • Learn from your problem 

Example: I’ve learnt that I need to open a savings account for things like broken bikes, to ease similar potential financial issues. I’ll open one next week and deposit £25 to £100 a month into it. 

  • Work on training your problem solving skills

Example: Play Peak’s problem solving games such as Low Pop and Size Counts to potentially tap into my executive function.

A study in 2008 showed that reading and arithmetic training tasks in healthy older adults improves general cognitive abilities related to executive function (e.g. problem solving strategies) and processing speed. So train your brain with problem solving games and you could reap some benefits.  

  • Realise you can cope with any problem 

Going through a smaller problem like fixing a bike can seem huge at the time and once you’ve worked out that a problem solving strategy like Peak’s works, you can then apply it to other, bigger problems if they crop up.

Remember that taking your time to work through a problem is the key. Rushed problem solving can have a disappointing outcome, so take it methodically and know that you’ll work through it in the end. 

Logic plays a big part in problem solving, so too does listening to your instincts. If you’re split 50/50 on a problem after using your strategic system, go with your instinct and logic. Start facing your problems sooner rather than later so you can nip them in the bud!

Discover our latest articles on brain health, cognitive development and wellbeing:

Sources Cited:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28640937

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2276592/

http://biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/60/3/380.full

All information featured in Peak – Brain Training articles are provided for informational purposes only and are not substitutes for medical or physician advice.

Maisie Bygraves

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