How strong are your analytical problem-solving skills? Not too confident in your answer? With regular practice, they can be strengthened and developed over time. They are such an important cognitive skill that many people believe whether you use them or not can be the deciding factor in whether you have a successful career or not.
The superhero of cognitive functioning
The strength of your analytical skills will serve you throughout your life – on both a professional and personal level. How well you manage and execute projects, write up reports or resolve technical issues are just some of the occasions at work when analytical skills will serve you well.
If you’ve neglected your analytical skills, here’s why you should reevaluate your priorities and improve them.
Analytical skills are important for:
- gathering information and reporting
- solving complex problems
- making well-informed decisions
- summarising statistical data
- identifying trends
- streamlining processes
- executing projects effectively
Simple ways to enhance analytical thinking skills
1. Active reading. Read more books. Can it be this simple?
Yes. The magic lies in active reading. This involves questioning what you’re reading as you read. Question. Question. Question. By asking questions as you read, you are engaging your brain in higher thinking. Another useful technique is to question and compare the writer’s perspective on a subject to your own. Take note of new ideas and thoughts that are a result of your reading. Active reading stimulates and expands your brain and allows it to think in new ways.
2. Take a walk outside
A walk in nature is another simple activity that can help improve your analytical skills. Once again, you have to engage your mind actively. You can do this by observing what you see around you carefully. Take in the details. Try to use as many of your senses as you can. Question what you see happening. Try to remember what you have observed and write it down the next day. How much information could you recall?
3. Practise your mathematical skills
Sudoku puzzles and games that employ logic and analysis skills are simple and enjoyable ways to practise your mathematical skills.
4. Include brain games in your list of hobbies
Games such as Chess, Backgammon, Bridge and other mind-improving board games that include strategic moves are fun ways to enhance analytical thinking skills. Treasure quests and puzzles can be added to this list. The encouraging part is that since all of these are fun to do, no extra motivation is needed to spend time doing them. This hobby can be enjoyed by the whole family so it can serve as a great family-bonding activity too.
5. Make personal encounters count
During conversations, ask everyone you meet questions and try to learn something from them. Whether it is life lessons such as how to manage stress or how they developed successful careers or what their parenting philosophy is, questions are essential to keeping the brain engaged. You can improve your interpersonal communication skills at the same time and maybe even make a friend or two.
By improving your analytical skills, you will be able to comprehend and appreciate debates and concepts, break down complex information and streamline solution-finding processes. These cognitive abilities are included in the list of critical skills that build successful careers.
See Also: 10 Books That Will Expand Your Brain
This article was originally published in October 2014.