Choose the best problem solving strategies

Problem solving strategies

Problem solving is something that all people need on a dailybasis. That’s because the need to solve problems is everlastingbecause they never end. They can be big and small, but you needto solve different issues regularly, from deciding the nextcareer step to managing your academic assignments. There areeffective psychological and other steps involved in effectiveproblem solving, so use them to tackle all kinds of life issues.Forming the best problem solving strategies is one of the mainaspects of your success. However, they must be rigorous,well-considered, and winning. Learn how to choose a viablestrategy based on available resources.

Available methods to solve your problems

Algorithms are often used by people to solve their issues. Theyare all about step-by-step procedures involved in finding theright answer to any given problem. As an example, think about anydetailed procedure involved in solving mathematic problems.Algorithms offer effective strategies that produce accurateanswer, but they aren’t always practical. Another drawback isthat they can be time-consuming and involve many steps. Forinstance, trying to open your door lock using a suitablealgorithm to determine possible number combinations takes a lotof time. Available methods to solve problems include:

  • Heuristics;
  • Algorithms;
  • Trial and error;


This method refers to a specific mental strategy based on therule of thumb. However, there’s no guarantee that it will alwaysproduce the most effective solutions to problems. This problemsolving strategy helps people simplify their complex issues bynarrowing available solutions while making it easier to find thecorrect one using additional methods. The heuristic strategy ofsolving problems is also referred to as a mental shortcut. If youneed to go to the other area of the city within a limited periodof time, you will look for the shortest route and the fastesttransportation. This rule of thumb allows you to make a decisionbased on past experiences.

Trial and error

Using trial and error is one of the most effective problemsolving strategies because it’s all about trying a range ofoptions and determining the ones that don’t work. Using thisstrategy is the number one choice of many people who need tosolve highly time-consuming issues. You should use it as a followup to identify the best possible options after narrowing themdown through other available techniques.


It’s something that just happens suddenly. Many researcherssuggest that it may happen if you solved similar issues in thepast. For example, the knowledge that you solved specificquestions in the past makes it simpler for you to solve thesimilar ones at present. Mental processes aren’t always relatedto past problems because they may happen outside of yourconsciousness. Each strategy is designed for specific problems,from determining your future career to buying groceries. Allavailable techniques can be easily narrowed down and combined.Some people use the methods that combine heuristics andalgorithms, while others prefer the strategies based on trial anderror. Make your choice wisely after doing the following:

  • Analyzing all available resources;
  • Gathering relevant information;
  • Monitoring your progress.

How to use the most effective problem solving approach

Problem solving strategies

Learn the strategies that can help you efficiently handle thechallenges that you face each day. Some of them can be minor andresolved fast, while others are big and require a lot of effortand time. The latter ones should be tackled by turning them intosome formal projects. Using a systematic approach will help yousucceed, no matter if you focus on big or small issues. Itinvolves a few basic problem solving steps that must be taken:

  • Defining a specific problem that must be solved;
  • Determining its causes;
  • Generating helpful ideas;
  • Choosing the best solution;
  • Taking the necessary action.

Defining a specific issue

Defining your problem correctly is one of the most importantproblem solving strategies. That’s because the way you define itdetermines how you will solve it. For instance, after receivingcomplaints about your academic assignments, effective solutionsto this problem can be different, and everything depends on howyou define it.

Determining its causes

Once you successfully define your problem, you need to dig deeperand determines its basic causes. If you consider it as a certaingap between where you want to be and where you are now, the maincauses of your issue are different obstacles that prevent youfrom closing this gap at once. This analysis is critical toensure that the chosen solutions are targeted at the actualcauses of your problem instead of its outcomes. If your solutionsare focused on outcomes instead of actual causes, the same issueis quite likely to happen again in the near future because youfailed to solve it completely.

Generating helpful ideas

Once you complete a difficult task of defining your problem anddetermining its main causes, you need to be creative and developits potential solutions. Mind mapping and brainstorming are someof the best methods that can be used to come up with effectivesolutions for a given issue.

Choosing the best idea

After coming up with some brilliant solutions for your problem,determine the best one through a straightforward trade-offanalysis. It’s all about defining the basic criteria of yourissue and using them to evaluate how every solution compares toothers. This important evaluation can be done through a simplematrix, and the highest ranking option is the best solution for agiven problem.

Taking the necessary action

Once you determine the number one solution that you’ll use, it’snecessary to take action. If it involves a few actions orrequires other people’s actions, create a special plan andconsider it as a mini-project. If you use this simple approach,you will improve your problem-solving skills fast.

Obstacles and challenges in problem solving

Solving any problem is not always a flawless process. Sometimes,different obstacles and challenges may interfere with the abilityto find effective tools easily and fast. The most common onesinclude:

  • Irrelevant data;
  • Functional tiredness;
  • A mental set;
  • Different assumptions.

Functional tiredness

Functional tiredness when using effective problem solvingstrategies is your tendency to see existing issues only in acustomary fashion. It prevents you from getting a full picture ofdifferent options that you have to find a perfect solution.

Misleading and irrelevant information

When trying to solve given issues, it’s advisable to distinguishbetween relevant information and irrelevant data that will onlyresult in using faulty solutions. When dealing with any complexproblem, it’s quite easy to start focusing on irrelevant ormisleading information.

Assumptions and a mental set

When trying to solve a problem, some people can make theirassumptions about specific obstacles and constraints that preventits solutions. A mental set is another common obstacle thatprevents people from solving issues. Basically, it’s theirtendency to use only those solutions that worked in the pastinstead of searching for possible alternatives. A mental set canwork as a heuristic in some bases, thus making it a helpfulproblem solving method. However, it often leads to increasedinflexibility, which makes it harder to find the best solutions.

Why understand your problem before solving it

Understanding your problem us a simple and important step tosolve it. If you fail to define it clearly, your solutions arequite likely to be inefficient. To get its proper understanding,you need to look at different angles and ask basic questions. Isthere only one problem to solve? Can you restate it in your ownwords? Spend more time with a given issue to be ready to generateits effective solutions.

Defining your objectives

State your basic aim because it’s an effective way to determinethe nature of a given issue. What do you want to achieve? What doyou wish to discover? You should consider both unknowns andknowns of your problem to find the data that can help yousucceed.

Finding information systematically

Along with understanding your goals and issue, you need to gatheras many facts about it as possible to get its clearer picture.For example, you can look for online resources, talk to expertsand other people, etc. Once you gather the necessary information,organize it effectively by condensing, rewording, andsummarizing. It’s a crucial step to implementing any problemsolving strategies, especially when dealing with complex issues.

How to create an effective plan

Problem solving strategies

The first step to find the best solution is to analyze theinformation you have and evaluate its importance. When makingthis analysis, look for interesting relationships and links toget a better idea of the overall situation. Sometimes,information should be divided into smaller parts to makeanalyzing it a more manageable process. Use such helpful tools asspecial graphs, charts, and so on.

Finding effective solutions

After looking at your available information, you need to generatepossible solutions. Use effective tools to come up with the bestideas. For instance, it’s possible to use similarities andanalogies. Look for any resemblance with common or past problems.If you can find them, you will be able to adapt previoussolutions. Besides, try to divide and conquer, which meansbreaking a specific problem into smaller issues and brainstormingtheir effective solutions separately.

Evaluate all possible ideas and choose the best one afteranalyzing your issue and its information. Take into account theprospective of their suitability, and this step may involverunning a special experiment or testing a particular scenariobecause this analysis will help you determine the consequences ofpotential solutions. Pick the one that suits your needsperfectly, doesn’t create any further issues, and will work.Remember that every solution produces its unique set ofcircumstances that should be evaluated attentively.

After determining the best solution, you need to implement it.Some unforeseen issues may arise at this stage, especially if youfail to structure a given problem correctly. Evaluate and reviewall possible outcomes to solve it effectively and avoidobstacles.

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