John Malouff, Ph.D., J.D., earned a law degree from the University of Colorado in 1979 and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Arizona State University in 1984. He currently works as an associate professor of psychology at the University of New England, in Armidale, Australia. He has co-authored five books and several dozen articles in scientific journals. He writes a blog on Using Psychology in day-to-day life.
Link to original document: Problem Solving Strategies
Solve one part at a time.
It is sometimes possible to make a problem easier to solve by attacking one part at a time. For instance, if you want to reduce international conflict in the Middle East, choose two countries with continuing conflict and focus on those. If you want to send a human to Mars, send and retrieve information-gathering robots first. If you want to improve your personality, choose one characteristic to improve at a time, starting, for instance, with your outgoingness.
Redefine the problem.
If a problem seems presently unsolvable, consider what value underlies the desire to solve that problem, and redefine the problem into something solvable. For example, if a farmer cannot solve the problem of how to grow a specific crop on his land, he might analyse why he finds growing this crop is desirable. If he decides that the reason is that the crop generally has a high profit margin, he might review what other crops have a high profit margin or even consider profitable uses of his land that do not involve farming. He thereby has redefined the problem from raising a certain crop on his land to making a high profit with his land.