problem-solving training

How to train your problem-solving skills

April 16, 2024
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From the hiccups that disrupt your morning routines to the hurdles that define your professional paths, there is always a problem to be solved. 

The good news is that every obstacle is an opportunity to develop problem-solving skills and become the best version of yourself. That’s right: It turns out you can get better at problem-solving, which will help you increase success in daily life and long-term goals.  

Read on to learn how to improve your problem-solving abilities through scientific research and practical strategies.

Understanding problem-solving skills

You may be surprised to learn that your problem-solving skills go beyond just trying to find a solution. Problem-solving skills involve cognitive abilities such as analytical thinking, creativity, decision-making, logical reasoning, and memory. 

Strong problem-solving skills boost critical thinking, spark creativity, and hone decision-making abilities. For you or anyone looking to improve their mental fitness, these skills are necessary for career advancement, personal growth, and positive interpersonal relationships. 

Core components of problem-solving skills training

To effectively train your problem-solving skills, it’s important to practice all of the steps required to solve the problem. Think of it this way: Before attempting to solve a problem, your brain has already been hard at work evaluating the situation and picking the best action plan. After you’ve worked hard preparing, you’ll need to implement your plan and assess the outcome by following these steps:  

  • Identify and define problems: Recognizing and clearly articulating issues is the foundational step in solving them.
  • Generate solutions: Employing brainstorming techniques helps you develop multiple potential solutions.
  • Evaluate and select solutions: Using specific criteria to assess solutions helps you choose the most effective one.
  • Implement solutions: Developing and executing action plans, including preparing for potential obstacles, guides you to positive outcomes.
  • Review and learn from outcomes: Assessing the success of solutions and learning from the results for future improvement facilitates future success. 

Strategies for developing problem-solving skills

There are many practical exercises and activities that can improve problem-solving abilities.

Cultivate a problem-solving mindset

  • Adopt a growth mindset: A growth mindset involves transforming phrases like “I can’t” into “I can’t yet.” Believing in the capacity to improve your skills through effort and perseverance can lead to greater success in problem-solving.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can enhance cognitive flexibility, allowing you to view problems from multiple perspectives and find creative solutions.

Enhance core cognitive skills 

  • Strengthen your memory: Engage in activities that challenge your memory since accurately recalling information is crucial in problem-solving. Techniques such as mnemonic devices or memory palaces can be particularly effective.
  • Build your critical thinking: Regularly question assumptions, evaluate arguments, and engage in activities that require reasoning, such as strategy games or debates.

Apply structured problem-solving techniques

  • Use the STOP method: This stands for Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. It's a simple yet effective way to approach any problem methodically, ensuring you consider all aspects before taking action.
  • Try reverse engineering: Start with the desired outcome and work backward to understand the steps needed to achieve that result. This approach can be particularly useful for complex problems with unclear starting points.

Incorporate technology into your training with fun brain games

  • Engage with online courses and workshops: Many platforms offer courses specifically designed to enhance problem-solving skills, ranging from critical thinking to creative problem-solving techniques.
  • Use cognitive training apps: Apps like Elevate provide targeted, research-backed games and workouts to improve cognitive skills including attention, processing speed, and more. 

Practice with real-world applications and learn from experience

  • Tackle daily challenges: Use everyday issues as opportunities to practice problem-solving. Whether figuring out a new recipe or managing a tight budget, applying your skills in real-world situations can reinforce learning.
  • Keep a problem-solving journal: Record the challenges you face, the strategies you employ, and the outcomes you achieve. Reflecting on your problem-solving process over time can provide insights into your strengths and areas for improvement.

Embracing problem-solving as a lifelong journey

Since problems arise daily, it’s important to feel confident in solving them. 

And you can do just that by downloading the Elevate brain training app. Elevate offers 40+ games and activities designed to improve problem-solving, communication, and other cognitive skills in a personalized way that’s backed by science. Pretty cool, right? 

Consider downloading the Elevate app on Android or iOS now—it’ll be the easiest problem you solve all day. 


How problem-solving games can boost your brain

  • Discover why problem-solving games are fun and effective ways to train your brain. 

Improving your problem-solving skills

  • Discover how to improve your problem-solving skills and make logical, informed decisions.  

Best ways to boost your mental fitness

  • Mental fitness refers to your ability to sustain your overall well-being. Learn tips to improve yours.  

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