So You Think Youre Hopeless With Figures?

By: Kenneth Williams

'It's no good! I'm just *hopeless* with figures!'

If you've ever said that to yourself then don't worry - you're not alone.

Many people believe themselves to be phobic or 'numerically challenged'. However the fact is they are probably not hopeless at all...

Most likely they had an unfortunate incident in their past. Perhaps they missed some crucial lessons in school and never caught up. Or maybe they suffered a humiliating experience in the math class.

Whatever the reasons, 'difficulties' can be overcome with a little determination and by looking at the subject in a different way.

Here are 5 ways to get over your numbers 'block' and start turning figures into friends:

1 - Give Them A Chance!

Begin to look carefully at figures instead of just 'switching off' when they come into view.

Next time you get a receipt at the restaurant or for goods you've bought, take a good look at it. There may be some numbers that don't mean anything but others will make sense.

So as a first step: don't ignore numbers.

They can give you a lot of useful information if you'll just give yourself a chance to absorb what they are saying.

2 - Don't Lose Them, Use Them!

Begin to use numbers more in your daily life.

  • Start checking your change in the shop
  • Check your bills too.
  • Study your bank statement carefully

If you get confused, don't worry, it happens to everyone. (Some bills seem to be designed to confuse!)

Just take in what you can and leave the rest.

3 - Take The Easy Route

See if you can spot the easy way to do everyday sums.

For example, suppose you need to find: 7 + 8 + 3.

Instead of starting at the left and adding as you go, you may notice that the 7 and 3 make a nice round 10. Simply tag on the 8 and you get 18 altogether.

The above technique - called 'looking for 10s' - is a useful trick when adding numbers.

Try some for yourself:

  1. 8 + 6 + 2 + 6 + 4
  2. 9 + 3 + 7 + 5 + 1
  3. 13 + 6 + 7 + 14

4 - Notice Patterns

Another thing to practice is seeing patterns in numbers. This makes them easier to remember and to work with.

For example, 23434 contains a simple pattern.

So does 9639.

And 51015 is a 'palindrome' - it's the same backwards.

5 - Make Them 'Real'

Numbers may contain memorable digits like dates.

For example, 217761.

If you look carefully, you'll notice it contains the year of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence.

A number could contain:

  • birthday numbers of yourself, family, or friends
  • figures from a telephone number or dial code
  • numbers of a house you have lived in

Or some other kind of digit combination that you can relate to.

Once you can relate numbers to the 'real world', you're fast on the way to becoming familiar with them.

And when you get to know them, you and numbers can become the best of friends for life!

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