How to Strengthen Your Analytical Skills
The term “analytical skills” is thrown around a lot, especially in job descriptions. The world of business is chock full of situations that require the ability of analytical thought, but what exactly is analytical thinking, you ask? Analytical thought is essentially one’s ability to devise a solution or predict an outcome based on information given. –It is logical thinking and the capability of absorbing and processing a given amount of information. This skill also means being able to recognize multiple scenarios and outcomes. Analytical skills should not be confused with common sense, which is defined as having sound judgment in practical matters.
Analytical skills are important to anyone who frequently has to take in information and summarize or redistribute the data. It is also an important skill set for someone who is responsible for working through situations that require a solution, as most businessmen and women do on a daily basis. If you are among this lot, if you hope to be someday, or if you simply want to strengthen your mind, then you might be wondering what you can do to improve your own aptitude for analytical thought. Fortunately there are plenty of daily activities that you can use to tweak your ability for analysis and logical thought. Take a look at a few recommendations below.
Take Up Reading (Mysteries)
If you aren’t a big reader, or if you simply don’t do it very often, then it might be a hobby worth taking up. Reading is a terrific way to spark the part of your brain that receives information, processes it into understanding, and reflects on the information logically to come to some sort of conclusion. Consider, for instance, the following description: The child let out a wail as he yanked his hand away from the whistling kettle. When your brain processes this information, you are likely to pull up a mental image of a young child nursing a burned hand. The text did not specifically tell you that the child did in fact burn his hand, however logic has deduced that the child has burned his hand because a whistling kettle is obviously a hot one and the child wailed, which indicates pain. Without trying, your brain has added together parts of a scenario to form a more complete image. If you were asked to create a solution for this child’s problem or to continue the story, you might go on to assume that the child would find a parent to tend to the wound and offer him comfort (and maybe a scolding).
Reading provides the “information” that you need to feed your brain in order to get it working in an analytical fashion. Frequent reading will eventually acclimatize your brain to this way of thought by constantly exercising and challenging it. Books that provide the element of mystery are particularly helpful because your brain will unwittingly process the clues given and you will attempt to form a solution or guess the outcome. If you haven’t got a lot of spare time to read novels, consider purchasing an audio book or sitting down to a mystery movie once in a while. The deductive reasoning of a good mystery will definitely get the pistons in your brain firing!
Practice Math Problems
Math isn’t only for budgeting your monthly spending or making purchases. Math can be very complex and the more you use math in your life, the greater your analytical skills will become. Math opens up your mind’s ability to think in “theoretical” terms, but it is largely a precise science. There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate math into your life. For example, instead of using a calculator, try working problems out on paper and build up to figuring them out only with your mind. You could also use math to figure out your gas mileage or estimate how many gallons of paint you will need to paint your bedroom. You could make a daily habit out of asking yourself mathematical questions. In no time your capacity for practical thought will become much smoother and quicker. If you have trouble getting started you could purchase a book of math equations and set a daily goal for yourself.
Play a Game (Chess, Axis and Allis, Checkers, Risk, Poker, Command and Conquer, Warcraft)
Strategy games can train your brain to quickly assess a situation and devise a plan of attack. Traditional games like chess, checkers, risk, axis and allies, and poker are all excellent games to get started with. If you’re partial to online gaming then you might even consider playing Command and Conquer, Warcraft, or Civilizations, which are strategy games that offer multiplayer or “versus computer” options. What’s great about playing these games against other people is that you can learn to react quickly to an unexpected scenario.
Work on a Puzzle
Puzzles can also help to develop your analytical skills. Purchase a logic puzzle or problem book. These books often contain problems that are written out in paragraph form as well as puzzles, pattern sequences, and riddles. Abstract thinking is a main priority when working in a puzzle or problem book, so try not to beat yourself up if things start out a bit rocky. Abstract thinking isn’t always a natural skill, however one can be taught to think open-mindedly and view problems from multiple angles.