One of the most important lessons in school, we learned back in primary school. I had a very mean second grade teacher (at least I though she was mean…). But whenever a student had a questions that really didn’t require teacher intervention, she would say:

When all else fails, read the directions.

So before you go straight for the easiest course of action — asking someone else to solve your problems — go back and make sure you have read the directions. In fact

  1. Read and understand the directions
  2. Formulate a plan of action.
  3. Execute the plan.
  4. Check your solution.

Borrowing from Polya’s How to Solve It, this above is the simple 4-step problem solving process taught in math classes all over the world. The only problem is that too many students try to start with Step 3.

One of the most important skills needed to be successful is the ability (willingness) to read, comprehend, and follow a list of instructions. Sound kinda like MS Office class? Before you try to offload work, remember that you may be hurting yourself in the long run.