How to Analyze Anything, Anywhere, Anytime

It’s been over a decade since I graduated from my Northern-Ontario based University with a B.A. in English, but I’m still a student and always will be. We never stop learning after all, and it would be foolish to think once school is complete, that the time for learning is over.

I don’t remember much from school, I don’t remember many of the subjects or conversations that took place. But I did learn and cultivate something very precious during my time there: The art of analysis. That’s a very broad statement until you admit, it’s one of our most steady ongoing mental processes throughout any day.

Even before getting out of bed, we’ve already decided if it’s going to be a good day or not based on our mood, the weather outside, etc… Driving to work, we analyze the likelihood of getting there on time, or should we rush through that yellow light? Without even being conscious of it, we analyze everything we can, everywhere we go.

Unconscious Analysis? I don’t Buy It!

You really should, after all, an analysis is defined (via google) as “the detailed search or examination of something”. It’s important to remember to exercise caution, to not “Judge a Book by its’ Cover” rather than unbiased, clear information available to us.

So how can we make an informed judgment on anything without basing it on personal bias?

  1. Keep a Clear Head.
    The most obvious point, yet hardly discussed. Have you ever met someone who based all decisions on emotion, and always arrived at a conclusion quickly without thinking their actions through? Me too, and if you’re thinking about the same kind of people I am, the outcome is hardly ever positive. Keep a clear head whenever you have an important issue at hand.
  2. Review the Issue at Hand.
    Before looking at the evidence, you need to first examine the situation in its’ proper context. Take the driving to work example: About to go through a yellow light, you’re late for work (the issue at hand). Is it worth rushing through a busy intersection to shave 30 seconds off your drive? Refer to point #1!
  3. Organize Information.
    It’s always easier to understand an issue when the information is compiled in an easy to understand format. If you’re having trouble coming to an informed and educated conclusion, reassemble your data in a way that makes sense to you.
  4. Decide Most Efficient Way to Analyze Subject Matter.
    There are as many ways to do this as there are people in the world. The subject matter will become clear as you better organize your information in a way that makes sense to you, though. Some people like graphs & spreadsheets, while others (like me) prefer to cross check facts using point form.
  5. Contrast Issue with Similar Occurrences.
    If you can compare your current situation with similar ones, you may discover a pattern or some form of precedence that could help. What happened the last time you rushed a yellow light? What about your friend last week that had the fender bender?
  6. Quantify Results.
    Once you’ve reviewed the issue at hand, and compiled your results it’s time to review the information. Remember, a clear head is the best way to an honest and complete answer for any question!

I hope this article helps you in your “Analysis Dilemmas” and guides you to the honest and objective answers you seek. What would you do differently? Leave your answers in the comments below!

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David Benjamin Bowes