Often times we're fixing a problem with a band-aid to manage a moment. But what if at the end of the day, we took the time to look at the big picture? We could problem-solve the challenge, giving our brain time to process what would prevent a repeat.
This article was originally published on November 26, 2016, and has been updated.
We probably don’t realize it, but we all problem-solve constantly every day.
Think about it…
All of the little decisions that need to be made, all of the things that come up on a daily basis, these are all forms of problem-solving in one way or another!
Naturally, when we’re faced with a challenge, we tend to want to solve it as quickly as possible.
Usually, our quick problem-solving skills fix that momentary issue and we move on.
But what about problem-solving and the BIG picture?
You know, decisions and situations that can’t be fixed in the blink of an eye. How can we improve our problem-solving skills on a grander scale?
Once we deal with problem-solving bigger or more high stakes problems, we can help prevent some of those challenges from reoccurring – or we can at least allow ourselves to take the appropriate time needed to make a bigger decision instead of rushing.
Here are four things to remember about the power of daily problem-solving.
Set aside time for problem-solving every day
One of the key self-management strategies that I teach is ‘set aside time in your day for problem-solving.’
Understandably, not all problems can be solved easily and some cannot wait and must take priority and be solved immediately. But many problems can be detained for a more opportune time in the day.
Developing a plan to manage problems is a win-win situation for all parties involved.
It’s imperative that we take the time to clear our minds and really focus on the situation and ONLY that situation.
We know how important it is to manage our emotions when making decisions: we’re at our very best when we don’t allow our emotions to guide our decisions.
When we set aside time to focus on problem-solving rather than emotions, our problem-solving skills strengthen.
Process your emotions throughout the day
From the moment we awake until the time we close our eyes to go to sleep at the end of the day we experience hundreds of emotions, some that we aren’t even aware of.
A big part of our day is moving through these feelings.
Sometimes we make decisions without appropriate planning or have to think quickly due to our busy schedules and emotions. When this happens over and over again, it can negatively affect the quality of our work and impact opportunities in the future.
Problem-solving is so important to our daily accomplishments, and our success can be contingent largely upon the way in which we work through the various challenges in our day.
Team members who are problem solvers are highly valued by managers
Managing your emotions, understanding the emotions of others, and finding a successful approach to problem-solving will open the door to personal success.
When issues that can’t be resolved efficiently and effectively arise, add them to your list for your daily scheduled time.
These problem-solving skills will make you a more valuable team member.
Once you get into the habit of planning this way you will find that you’ll save time and be far more effective at making decisions. With this practice, you won’t allow problems to derail you during your busy day.
This type of compartmentalizing really helps you stay focused and be productive — and it will be noticed by your managers, too!
Make a plan to problem-solve
Moving forward, plan to set aside a minimum of 15 minutes in your daily schedule to focus on problem-solving.
Keep a list of items that you need to review each day, and check them off as you go.
Once you set the time in your calendar to problem-solve, you need to also do the following:
- Turn off your cell phone
- Walk away from your computer
- Find a spot where you won’t be disturbed
Ensure that you have a quiet area that is free of disruptions and distractions of any kind!
That way, you can focus on the problems with an objective view without any emotions getting in the way of mindful planning and clear thinking.
Of course, as you develop your daily problem-solving routine, you’ll need to use your wealth of skills to work through the problems. But it’s much easier when you are in the correct mindset, and that’s all part of learning to manage your emotions.
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