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3 Key Habits to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

Updated: Jan 17

✎ Written by: Dubravka Rebic ✓ Fact-checked by: Dr. Glen Doniger, Ph.D.

• Improving our critical thinking skills is essential to improving our problem-solving and decision-making skills. • You can improve your critical thinking skills by following 3 cognitive habits recommended by Michael Kallet in his book "Think Smarter".

• This article was reviewed by Dr. Glen Doniger, an expert in cognitive neuroscience who holds a Ph.D. from New York University

Developing the right habits can increase your productivity because they reduce cognitive load and save your energy. If you repeat a behavior long enough, you spend little to no time thinking about the process—the behavior becomes automatic.

While automatic mode can be helpful when driving your car or brushing your teeth, it can also be a drawback because it makes you prone to mistakes.

That is because the automatic mode can distort, discard, and create information that affects your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. When thinking about something important, you should take a step back and notice your thoughts. Then, get out of automatic mode and get into a mindful one by using critical thinking.

Critical thinking is a process that requires you to assess and understand a situation and to come to a conclusion about what to do.

The Importance of Critical Thinking

When we review problems using critical thinking tools, we get new perspectives and ideas. We make better decisions, come up with more innovative solutions, and enjoy faster outcomes.

Imagine you’re a manager and you’ve noticed a spike in your department’s workload. You might assume that the workload change is temporary, so you think that asking your team to work overtime is the best solution.

But if you thought the workload increase was permanent, you might start interviewing for a new full-time hire. As you can see, a simple shift in perspective can result in a different solution.

In the book Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills, author Michael Kallet presents a framework and set of tools to apply critical thinking techniques to everyday issues.

This framework consists of three key habits that can improve your critical thinking skills:

  • Clarity: understanding the problem