Thursday, February 19, 2009

Project Management Skills

I was chatting with a professor today, and he said, "I always love grading the last problems on the comprehensive exams, the ones nobody ever does.  It is so easy and stress-free; I just mark zero, zero, zero"

This seemed odd to me.  I mentioned that I always do triage on the tests that I take, figuring out what I can deal with before I start working.  I usually end up doing the last problem, even if I leave something in the middle blank.

He said. "You are one of the few people who does that.  Everyone thinks they have to answer the questions in order, and it kills them.  You should answer what you know."

This is basic advice for taking tests, tackling projects, and living life in general.  First, you need to figure out what you can do easily, and then you should pick the low-hanging fruit.  It seems so obvious, and I cannot believe that so many of my classmates fail to do it.  Maybe they are incapable of systemic thinking, or maybe they are no good at predicting how long it will take to do something.  Either way, it may explain why I do well relative to people who have memorized and studied a lot more than I have.

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