Being visual, I usually have to see the solution before I know what it is. Sometimes after I see it I feel like a dope, because I've been here before.
To get the solution before I solve the problem (if I am really stuck), I will photograph the piece and bring into photoshop and 'have at it' warming or cooling colors, deleting, resizing until I see what it is that is bugging me. I wish I had a quicker process! But that's just impatience speaking. I expect a lot from myself!
I see improvement over the long run and I do get quicker ascertaining the problem and having less issues altogether, so I'm learning! Sounds like you are 'self-teaching' too.