Developing Your Analytical Skills as a Creative
You are a tremendously creative person, and your artistic skills are super. However, in your coursework, you see the need to develop your analytical skills. Analytical skills are the ability to think logically, break things down, and recognize cause and effect. How can you develop these skills and how do you use these skills?
One of the important benefits of being skilled at analytical thinking is that it enables you to think through a problem, design a method of solving the problem, and prioritize the steps for solving the problem. One of the ways you can develop this skill is to become more organized. Keep a planner or organizer and write down what needs to be done by when. Once you have the due date for a project, for example, you need to break down the project into tasks that need to be done. You need to list the most steps possible, being very specific. For example, don’t list “paint background of canvas,” list “mix forest green and ecru paint with a wet brush to paint canvas.” Or you may need to “copy notes from class onto note cards and group them by time period” to help you begin to study for an exam.
What if you cannot identify the steps required to accomplish a task? Then you may need to read. You can read how others have accomplished the task by researching it. Look for outlines that may be available listing out steps that you can modify to fit your project. Talk to mentors and fellow students and discuss your thoughts with them. Often another person can see the big picture, and share their vision with you.
To get better at analytic skills you can practice them. Logic puzzles are a good brain exercise that allows you to practice your analytic thinking skills. Another way to practice these skills is by working math problems. While that may not be your favorite thing to do, working long division problems (without a calculator), algebra problems, geometry problems, or calculus helps your brain improve analytic task skills. If you just cannot stand doing math, then you can play video games that can help you to analyze. Choose games that require you to solve problems or strategy games. If you google strategy games, you will get some recommendations that include free apps. Board games can even help you to devise strategies and see cause and effect in your actions.
Another way that you can improve analytical skills is to join a club. A debate team, public speaking group, or gaming group will help you to learn to organize your thoughts and plan successfully. Even a reading club will teach you to follow steps to formulate an opinion, using steps and facts to back up your ideas. Any social club that requires participation to accomplish goals can help you with your skills.
Knowing a lot of information will give your brain a wide database, which will help you as you solve problems and ascertain causes and effects. You can learn information by reading in a wide variety of topics, listen to podcasts in a variety of areas, and attend lectures and seminars. Watching television shows that give information like the history channel, the building and decorating channels, or crime solving show will help you to learn to think like a scientist, which builds analytical thinking skills.
Think over problems rather than solving them with the first solution you come up with is a way to improve your problem solving skills. A good way to do this is to brainstorm possible solutions before you decide on one. In brainstorming, you try to come up with as many solutions as possible. List them without censoring or ruling out solutions right away. Next, list the qualities that you want the solution to include. This step, determining the criteria of the solution, is a step many people omit in solving problems, but can make the difference in finding the best solution. Finally, look at every possible solution on your brainstorming list, and compare it to your criteria. You can create a spreadsheet or a chart by hand, checking off which items fit specific criteria.
Observing is not just the first step of the scientific method, but it is also an important step in building your analytical skills. While you use good observation skills when creating a work of art, general observation will allow you to identify patterns, cycles, and causes that will help you to make that leap of insight that can help you as you solve problems.
Practice looking at problems from different angles. Instead of beginning at the starting point, make a list beginning at the ending point and write down the steps working backward from that point. Take a viewpoint that is the opposite of yours, and see if you can defend it. Think outside the box. Even finding a new route to a familiar location keeps your observation and scanning skills sharp. Try new recipes and food preparation strategies. Try new forms of art that are not your favorite or that you are not very good at. If you like sculpting, try painting or calligraphy. If you are a painter, try textile arts. Broadening your horizons helps your analytical thinking, and you may discover a topic or style that you like and can apply to your own work.
Use computer or smart phone apps that help you to improve your analytical thinking while you wait in line or have a few minutes to spare. Most of these are free and can be a lot of fun. Try room decorating apps, home design apps, dress design apps, or even online puzzles. These can help you to develop spatial reasoning skills without the clutter that comes from putting together physical puzzles. Although, if you have the space and desire, these are good for your thinking skills as well.
In summary, if you want to develop your analytical thinking skills, there are many ways to do it. Some may appeal to you more than others, but try some strategies that do not appeal to you as well. Go outside your comfort zone and think outside the box.