A Day in the Life of Stress: Problem Solving
Learning how to solve problems can be a useful tool in understanding difficult situations. Situations that seem to complex to understand can be resolved with ease.
You might think that problem solving is only something that you perform at work, but in fact it is a skill you use in every aspect of your life. When you transform the leftovers in the fridge into a gourmet meal or avoid traffic jams on the road by taking a short cit, you are actually finding solutions. Before you write yourself off as someone not having much experience at problem solving, bear in mind all of the activities that you perform during the day.
In the workplace you need to have the ability to solve problems quickly and effectively. The best way to approach a problem is by keeping an open mind and not getting agitated with yourself when you can’t find an instant remedy. Otherwise you may become too caught up in the dilemma to see clearly. There are techniques you can learn that will help you to distance yourself enough to solve any issues you have.
Dangers of Procrastination
Procrastination is probably one of the greatest causes of stress. It is a habit that is hard to break unless there are systems in place to help. There are many reasons why you choose to procrastinate: being too much of a perfectionist means that you become a victim of your own high standards because nothing is quite good enough for you.
Fear of failure, or success, can be strong feelings to deal with. Making the effort and not succeeding becomes a reason not to try at all. This might be the case with a number of issues, such as dating.
The important thing to do is make a start and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to succeed. Remember that making mistakes is all part of the learning process.
Solving your Problems
- Being creative and flexible can be hugely beneficial in problem solving. Use different colours for different points: for example, use blue for the initial problem, red for the points that may help solve it and green for putting those points into action. Writing down the points on different cards is a good way to restructure ideas without having to rewrite the entire sheet of paper – and wasting even more time.
Analysing your position
- Writing a pros and cons list is a basic but effective method of solving any problem you may be confronted with. Divide a sheet of paper into three areas: pros, cons and feelings. The third column is important as it might help you understand why you are worried about doing something. When you have finished look down the sheet of paper and see which column is stronger. If you find that it is the negative, re-examine each point in the cons lists and make sure you are being truly honest with yourself about each of the issues you’ve raised.
- SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is a detailed method for dealing with personal and work issues. Divide a piece of paper in four and write each heading at the top.
- Strengths – what are your notable achievements? What do you do well? What are your strengths and what do other people see as your strengths?
- Weaknesses – what could you improve? What are your limitations? What do you try to avoid?
- Opportunities – What are the opportunities facing you? What changes could you make to improve these? Do any of your strengths open up previously unseen chances?
- Threats – What obstacles do you face? Do you have cash flow problems?
Decision tree analysis
- Decision tree analysis is useful when you are trying to decide between different options. They are hierarchical diagrams, a bit like a family tree. Start on the left hand side on a piece of paper and draw a square. This represents the dilemma. From it, draw out lines, one for each possible solution and write the solution on it or underneath it. Keep the lines well apart so that you can expand on ideas as you develop your tree. An example would be ‘should I change my job?’ From that, you might draw out lines that explore other options such as ‘stay put’, ‘different job in same company’, ‘different job in same field’ and ‘make a career change’. From each of these you will expand your thought and end up with different solutions. Once this is completed, you can review your tree diagram and examine which holds the best solution.