a time-management dilemma:

Now that I’ve reached the stage in grad school where there are no particular courses I’m required to take, I’m taking courses that I’ve been meaning to take, with things I’ve been meaning to learn. Unfortunately, there’s a dilemma there: I’m also trying to get actual work done (like, start producing scholarship), and some of these courses are dreadfully time-consuming.

Example: there’s a notoriously difficult social choice theory class in which I’m currently enrolled. The first problem set has been taking me hours and hours, not because of the supposedly more difficult problems involving proving things (I solved the first two proofs basically without taking my pen from the paper), but because of the supposedly easier problems involving finding examples of things. The problem that is currently driving me absolutely batshit involves finding an example of a choice function that satisfies condition A but not condition B, where conditions A and B are almost identical, the difference suggests no obvious examples, and I’ve spent hours upon unhappy hours throwing hunches at it, testing them, and finding either that they satisfy both conditions or violate both conditions.

Should I:
a) Spend more miserable hours upon hours doing this until it cracks.
b) Spend even more hours upon hours, but probably more enjoyably, learning the appropriate programming tools and then writing a program to just solve the damn thing by brute force, which is actually permissible (I’ve checked).
c) Remember that grades don’t matter in grad school, say “fuck it,” and skip the problem, maybe actually getting some real work done this week (like making progress on the looming paper which I’m going to be presenting way too soon).
d) Really say “fuck it” and jettison the whole course, for the third year in a row.


One Response to “a time-management dilemma:”

  1. Paul Gowder Says:

    And a decision: enough of this, I have actual scholarship to pursue. Reached after running into two of my fellow attendees, who were describing how they’ve spent at least seven hours not-quite-being-done with one of those pset items. Goodbye social choice theory class.

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