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12 tips to improve analytical skills

Well, improving your critical thinking skills is no small feat, and becoming a more proficient problem solver has a host of potent benefits...

Well, improving your critical thinking skills is no small feat, and becoming a more proficient problem solver has a host of potent benefits:
1. Analytical Skills Make You Marketable
This is one of the most concrete, tangible benefits of how to improve your analytical skills and critical thinking abilities.
Developing any of the aforementioned analytical skills will instantly make you a more marketable, hirable individual. If you’ve already got your dream job, then great! Acquiring these skills will help you shine in the eyes of your employer, and will enable you to get your job done more efficiently, in less time.

If you don’t have your dream job, then learning how to improve analytical thinking skills will likely help you score that position you’ve been eyeing. Slide a few analytical skills into your resume and your potential employer will be quite impressed.

2. Analytical Skills Make You A Better Problem Solver

Being an effective, creative problem solver will help you tackle even the most daunting of cognitive challenges with ease. When you understand how to digest data, pick out the relevant details, and devise a creative solution, not much will be able to stand in the way of you and what you want.
Be it at home, at work, or for a personal project, efficient problem solving will empower you for the success of tomorrow.

3. Analytical Skills Encourage Critical Thinking

What is critical thinking? It’s a type of intellectual discipline that emphasizes the logical synthesis of information to produce informed thought and action.
It’s a way in which we can interact with information, experience, even other people, without the reactivity we’re so used to operating under.

Being a more conscious, less reactive person leads to more harmonious relationships with the ones we love. When we learn to think critically, we’re carving a path toward better interpersonal connections.

4. Measure the Right Data:

When you have data, it’s easy to throw everything onto a graph and compare it all as is. You might be able to see all the numbers in one place, but you won’t garner much insight if you do it that way.
For example, you want to measure the engagement rates of your marketing channels. You gather up your data and you plop it on a graph. You get something that looks like this:  
bad graph example - social analytics
But it doesn’t really give you a clear perspective, does it? That’s because you’ve failed recognize the different data. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, or in this case, fruits and stores.
Let’s say fruits equal search engines, social media, email, etc., while stores represent desktop, tablets, and smartphones.
As you can see from the graph above, the highest engagement is coming from smartphones, which is good insight. However, within the graph, it confuses matters because users are most likely using social media, search engine, and emails via smartphones. Going on with my analogy, you don’t know which fruits the customers are buying from which store, all you know is which fruit and which store is most popular. The data is, at best, limited.
The ability to segment data and ask whether or not each set of data is on the same rung of relevance is an important step in improving your data analysis skills. This issue is often resolved when you have a defined problem to help solve.

5. Practice the Art of Application:

After everything you learn through reading, watching, or listening, you must apply it to something specific.
The better you get at recognizing what is applicable and what isn’t will give you confidence when handling data.
The key is to be specific. Pick one problem.
For example, let’s say you want to determine how much you want to spend on your next marketing campaign. How will you do that with data? By learning about your customers, of course. How much you should spend on marketing should be related to how much each new customer is worth.

6. Organize and Layout Data:

The culmination of data can result in a jumbled mess of information. To properly analyze it, identify patterns, and communicate the figures to others on the team, you’ll need to make it presentable. The way you present the data will have a great impact while identifying value.
If you are measuring the success of your website’s traffic, you might pull out Google Analytics for everyone to see at the board meeting. But how should you present it? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Annually?
It’s easy to exaggerate results or highlight minor failures and successes if you misrepresent graphs. The daily fluctuation of your website makes it hard for you to spot trends. Yes, you may be able to identify when the product launch occurred or compare sales on Black Friday to Cyber Monday, but there isn’t a whole lot it can recommend.
comparing graphs - control for stripe
However, if you zoom out and view your website’s analytics as charted monthly or annually, you’ll be able to see the gradual increase or drop in traffic. This helps identify areas of concerns that were not visible with a narrow vision.
For example, in the graph above, you may be able to see that your website’s traffic suffered a dip from July to October and then rose. What happened there and how can you prevent that summer drop from happening again this coming year?
Remember that data is a tool to help you communicate an idea. Keep it simple, and at all cost, avoid presenting exaggerations.

7. Know When You Need More Data:

Now that you’ve got the basics, you want to start analyzing and improve your business. Hold on, though, because another quality of skilled data analysts is that they are able to see when they have an insufficient amount of data.
Let’s say you are implementing a marketing campaign that includes paid ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Adwords. Three days in and you decide to look at the analytics.
ppc conversion comparison - customer analytics
Comparing conversion rate (number of people who click on the ad and then went on to make a purchase) to click through rate (number of people who has seen the ad divided by the number of people who click on it), you can see that Facebook is by far out-performing the other two channels.
Since these marketing programs tend to charge businesses per click or per impression, you want to be sure that those who see or click end up converting.
With a limited amount of data, it’s easy to give up on Twitter and Google Adwords, but that might be a mistake since impressions, clicks, and conversions fluctuate. Also, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Adwords have different algorithms for targeting your specific audience. Adwords uses keywords and Facebook targets demographics—which is a whole other thing you’ll need to test to get any valid results.
8. Learn How Things Work
Don’t just find the solution but know how exactly certain things work. By scrutinizing how things work, you will have a better understanding of the process which is vital in stimulating your analytical skills.
9. Ask Questions
Did you know that curiosity makes us smarter? According to Neuroscientist Aracelli Carmago, “The more curious we are about a subject, the more it engages our cognitive functions, such as attention and memory.” With that said, asking more questions can help develop better problem-solving skills, retention, and memory of a subject. So don’t be shy to ask questions, especially if your query is valid.
10. Play Brain Games
If you want to improve your analytical thinking skills, it may be time to play Sudoku or other brain games like puzzles, chess, or crosswords. The best part of working on brain games to develop your analytical skill set is it is fun and doesn’t require a lot of motivation to get started.
11. Practice Your Problem Solving Skills
Keep in mind that for every problem, there is a solution. Visualize and be articulate in the presentation of a particular concept. Prepare two, three or even more solutions to a problem. And, if possible, do test runs on those solutions. See which one is the best and the most logical.
12. Think About Your Decisions
Making important decisions at work is very common. Thus, think hard and rationalize your decisions. What are the pros and cons of your decision? Ask for an expert opinion if available or do extensive research. Ask yourself, is this the best solution for this problem? Take a step back to rethink it a bit more, and then you can finally decide.

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