Improving Your Analytical Skills
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Good analytical skills are critical in the workplace as they will help you solve complex issues, make rational decisions, and execute well-organized projects. Common analytical skills include troubleshooting, budgeting, data analysis, metrics and communication. Sharpening these skills can help position you as a leader and assist with your advancement up the career ladder. If you think your analytical skills need some improvement, here are 6 strategies to put into practice:
- Read Books – The key to improving analytical thinking is to keep your mind active. Reading, especially material that may be out of your normal selections, can be an asset to your intellectual abilities. You might also want to consider joining a book club. By doing so you may read more and can engage in lively discussion that fosters your ability for critical analysis and debate.
- Ask More Questions – The more curious you are about something, the more it engages your cognitive functions. By asking more questions you can develop better problem-solving skills and retention on a subject.
- Play Brain Games – Have you tried Sudoku, puzzles or crosswords lately? Brain games are a fun way to enhance your analytical skills and can be done where ever you have a few minutes to spare, such as waiting for an appointment or on a plane. There are also brain training apps that can challenge your cognitive capabilities.
- Practice Problem Solving – Think about the problems you need to solve at work and the pros and cons of possible solutions? Take the time to think through each option before you make a final decision. Use simple everyday problem solving experiences to practice and improve your analytical skills and it will become more natural.
- Volunteer for New Projects – Look for opportunities to volunteer for a project that involves a skill you are trying to improve. Be proactive in your approach and consider activities that may include research, data analysis, metrics or communication plans.
- Learn Something New Every Day – With the fast pace of retail change, there is always something new to learn. Read an industry publication, seek out an online class, or talk to an internal team member if you’re curious about their role. Make it a habit to expand your knowledge everyday by learning something you didn’t know before.
Remember that analytical skills will enable you to get your job done more efficiently and these skills are transferrable to any position, thus making you more marketable. The bottom line is, efficient problem-solving skills will empower you for future success.