Analytical skills are not taught in school – not even an elective. But this skill hugely affects your success when you go out to the “real world”.
What gets a person closer to success is their ability to rely on analytical skills – not on emotions and desires – to overcome challenges regardless of urgency or complexity.
Analytical skills are also called problem-solving skills. It is the ability to collect, gather, visualize and analyze information in details.
When you see job postings like System Analyst, Business Analyst, Data Analyst etc, the “analyst” suffix is not just there to make the job sound fancy. It is there for a reason – the job needs someone to evaluate and solve simple or complex problems.
But what exactly are analytical skills?
Here’s a closer look at some of these abilities:
Visualization is closely inter-linked with a person’s creativity. It is the ability to predict the possible outcomes of strategies and actions.
On a professional setting, visualization involves the analysis of data – often through illustrations like charts, graphs, and detailed lists.
With these tools and other details, you can predict the results through visualization.
2. Critical thinking
This is a person’s ability to think critically. It can be measured by his or her consistency in creating reasonable and right decisions.
A person with good critical thinking skills has the ability to evaluate information, take what’s useful, use it for visualization, and draw conclusions without being swayed by emotions and hunches.
Critical thinking involves challenging the assertions and finding loopholes in proposed solutions to create the best possible outcome.
3. Computing numbers
Analytical skills involve dealing with numbers and data. So, whether you like it or not, you need to be comfortable with numbers if you want to sharpen your analytical skills.
Bear in mind that computing goes beyond cost analysis, budgeting, and performing general calculations. Every day, we need to use our computing skills when weighing the risks and benefits of any given strategy.
Analytical skills are not just used to understand problems. It is also used to develop the most suitable course of action for the best outcome.
Problem-solving skills are related to your goal-setting skills, which involve breaking down and prioritizing between objectives.
Research is also one of the analytical skills that you should have. Most of the time, analytical jobs involve collecting data or information and then analyzing it.
Before you solve a problem, there must be enough details for it to be analyzed. It includes but is not limited to investigating metrics, data mining, data collection, recording facts, taking inventory, and checking for accuracy
6. Attention to detail
Having good attention to detail means that you are able to notice, retain, and keep track of details, no matter how small it is. It also means you can follow instruction properly and avoid making mistakes.
When you have good attention to detail, your work will be done with accuracy and precision.
How to improve analytical skills
Analytical skills are a collection of traits and abilities that emphasize a logical, rational approach to tackling ideas, information, and solution. The good news is that analytical skills are just skills – they can be learned.
So, without further talking, here’s how to develop your analytical skills:
1. Understand the meaning of analytical skills
You can never really do what you don’t understand, right? The first step to improving your analytical skills is to understand what it is because it differs depending on the application.
In general, analytical skills is the ability to deal with information in deductive and inductive ways. But it can also be the ability to collect and analyze information to see the bigger picture or trend behind facts.
In some other cases, it is the ability to take the “big picture” of a situation and then deconstructing it to identify the details.
2. Read more books
Reading is the most powerful asset to our cognitive abilities. When we read, we can learn a lot from the books.
Going to the library or joining a book club can help you read more. You will also engage in literal analysis and debate during book club meetings.
When you join like-minded people in a book club, you’ll have the opportunity to delve into critical analysis, dissect metaphors, and unpack symbolism.
Apart from the analytical skills you develop, you will also expand your social circle, thus mastering your social interaction skills.
3. Play brain games
Brain games such as Sudoku and crosswords can help develop your analytical skills. It’s also fun!
Playing brain games is a practical way to begin improving your analytical skills and boosting your brain power. You might not even notice how long you’re playing them.
Plus, all you need is only 15 minutes a day! If you commit to spending at least 15 minutes to “mind hack”, it will increase your brain power and cognitive function.
4. Learn one new thing every day
It’s exciting to learn something. So why not make it a habit to learn something new each and every day?
Most people become much more passive about our learning after they graduate. We only read and learn when it’s truly needed.
But, learning new things develop your analytical skills. So, make it a habit to try and learn something that excites your passions each day. It can be cooking, website designing, or photography.
In today’s technology era, you can just go online and research a topic that has always interested you. Or you can talk to a professional in a field that you’re curious about and start learning about it.
So, get out there and expand your knowledge base by learning something you didn’t know when you were younger. Your future self will thank you for doing that.
5. Take an online course
In the above example, learning new skills can be done in just one click. But first, you must decide what appeals to you most.
Keep in mind that you may already possess some of the analytical skills identified above. But since we all have unique strengths and weaknesses, the key is to identify where yours lie.
A piece of good advice to take is to challenge yourself with something you’re not particularly good at. Focus on the things you don’t know because if you only pursue those that you’re already proficient in, then you’re not really not learning anything new.
Do yourself a favor and try something you haven’t yet mastered. You could try improving your research skills, or try your hand at data analysis and reporting.
Whatever you have chosen, do a little research if it is available online. Most online courses are cheaper because there’s no venue being paid for.
6. Use analytical tools
To develop your analytical skills further, familiarize yourself with note-taking tools and other software that can help with analytical tasks.
Examples are money management app like Mint to track your spending habits and manage your budget with visual tools. When it comes to prioritizing goals, you can use simple task management apps like Trello, Asana, or Wunderlist.
7. Keep a journal
Finally, when you write what happened to you after a day’s work, it allows you to take a second look at everything that happened. Writing about your experiences lets you focus on the lesson rather than the emotion.
With that, it will help you analyze how you made your decisions, why you came to certain conclusions, learn from your mistakes, and what you can do to improve in the future.
Few words to ponder…
Every one of us is capable of doing great things. We can all be successful if we only take measured and targeted action.
Weaknesses are not there to bring us down – it is there to teach us a lesson. And if we take those lessons, learn from it, and put them into work – then we can confront and overcome any obstacle standing between us and our goals.