Problem solving. 6 steps to solve a problem

(This article has been Written by Muhammad Abdullah. His Area Is Linguistics.He Is English Lecturer at University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Pakistan).His Email Address (

How do you deal with the problems of everyday life? Do you have a constructive attitude or do you immediately panic?Problems can come in many forms and types. The ability to solve problems does not apply only to math homework. Analytical thinking and problem solving skills are part of many jobs, from accounting to computer programming, detective work and even artistic works such as art, acting and literature. Although individual problems vary, there are certain general strategies for solving problems.

If I had 1 hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about how to solve it.” – Albert Einstein

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

A problem is a possibility that is offered to you to do better. Duke Ellington.

  1. Understand the problem

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      1. Define the problem clearly.

        This is a seemingly simple, but fundamental step. If you do not understand the problem well, your solutions may be ineffective or may fail completely. To define the problem, you will have to ask yourself questions and look at it from different angles. For example, is it just a problem or are they really several? Can you re-manifest the problem in your own words? By spending time with the problem, you will understand it better

        Ask questions. For example, let’s say that as a student you have very little money and want to find an effective solution. What is the problem? Are your income (that is, you don’t earn enough money)? Do you spend too much? Maybe you have unexpected expenses or your financial situation has changed?.

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        Define your goal.

        Indicating your goal is another way to get to the nature of the problem. What do you want to achieve? What do you want to discover? Remember that you will take into account what you know and what you do not know about the problem, and that you should find out where to find information that will help you reach your goal.

        For example, let’s say your problem is money. What is your goal? Maybe you never have enough money to go out on the weekend and have fun at the movies or at a disco. Determine that your goal is to have more cash. Very good! If you have a clear goal, you will better define the problem

        Collect information systematically. 

        In addition to defining your problem and your goal, you should gather as many facts as you can regard the problem, in order to have a clear picture. Collect information, ask others or experts related to the problem, search online sources, published sources or elsewhere. Once you have the information, order it. You can do it by saying it in other words or by summarizing it. Maybe you could plan it on a chart. You do not need to follow this step if your problem is simple, but it will be essential for those more complex problems.

        For example, to solve the problem of lack of money, you may want the most detailed picture possible of your financial situation. Collect information through your last statement and talk with a bank employee. Keep track of your income and expenses in a notebook, and then create a spreadsheet or chart to show your income along with your expenses.

        Prepare a plan

        Analyze the information

        The first step in finding a solution is to look at the information you have collected regarding the problem and analyze its importance. When you analyze it, you will look for links and relationships in order to better understand the situation in general. Start with the raw data. Sometimes you will have to break down the information into smaller and more manageable parts or you will have to classify it according to its importance or relevance. To do this, some useful tools are diagrams, graphs or models of cause and effect.

        Evaluate the solutions and choose.
        With a clear definition of the problem, start generating ideas for a solution. The key here is to be flexible in how you approach the problem. You should be able to see it from as many perspectives as possible. Looking for common patterns or elements in different parts of the problem can sometimes help. You can also use metaphors and analogies to help analyze the problem, find similarities with other issues, and think of solutions based on those similarities.

        The Brainstorming  is very useful at this time. By taking the time to generate a range of creative solutions to the problem, you will significantly increase the likelihood of finding the best possible solution, not just an almost good one. Whenever necessary, involve people with different points of view to expand the volume of ideas generated.

        Do mental exercises frequently. Like the muscles in your body, you will have to work hard to solve a problem if you want it to be stronger and work over time. In other words, you will have to exercise often. Studies show that elements such as mind games can make you have a more creative mind.

        Play videogames. 

        For a long time, video games have been considered a mentally idle game. However, new research shows that video games can improve some parts of thinking such as spatial perception, reasoning and memory. However, not all games are created in the same way. While the games in which the shots are made in the first person can improve your spatial reasoning, they are not as effective as others to develop problem-solving skills.

        Play something that forces you to think strategically or analytically. Put together a puzzle or play Tetris. You may also prefer a role play or strategy game. In that case, some games like “Civilization” or “Sim-City” might be more suitable for you.

        Start a hobby. 

        A hobby is another excellent way to continue developing your problem solving skills. Choose something that involves active problem solving or activates appropriate parts of your brain. For example, start learning a foreign language. The language works in both hemispheres of the brain, so learning a language will activate the areas that control the analysis as well as reasoning and problem solving. [17] These elements help you solve problems.


        This stage of action is an end, but it is also a beginning. Once you’ve finished your implementation, it’s time to move on to the next problem-solving cycle, returning to the stage of finding a new problem. In doing so, you will continue to improve your organization as you both move into the future.


        Problem solving is an extremely important skill in the workplace.

        Being recognized as someone competent and confident in solving problems will create many opportunities for you.

        By using a well-developed model like Simplex to solve problems, you can approach the situation systematically, and feel comfortable that the decisions you make are solid and well-founded.

        Given the unpredictable nature of the problems, it is very comforting to know that, following a structured process, you have done everything possible to resolve the problem to the best of your ability.


        Carnine, D., & Granzin, A. (2001). Setting learning expectations for students with disabilities. School Psychology Review,

        eno, S. L. (2002). Problem-solving as “best practice.” In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology IV: Vol. 1 (pp. 37–56)

        Witt, J. C., & Martens, B. K. (1988). Problems with Problem-Solving Consultation: A Re-Analysis of Assumptions, Methods, and Goals. School Psychology Review, 17(2), 211-22

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