Thursday, September 20, 2007

Time Management Tips from Bob Solow


"Everything reminds Milton Friedman of the money supply. Everything reminds me of sex, but I try to keep it out of my papers."
- Robert Solow

You might remember him from the article, A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth. He also happens to have got a Nobel for it. Here’s some original time management tips from the maestro (emphasis mine).

If you see something that needs doing, do it. It is not easy to for me to explain what I mean by this guideline, but I think it has been deeply ingrained in me for a long time. I rather believe that I was once promoted to Acting Corporal at the age of 19 because of this trait. I suppose that it entails a partial contradiction of the conventional injunction to get your priorities straight before acting. To my mind, the priorities are not so certain that one ought to pass up any opportunity to get something useful done. Perhaps it also reflects my belief that much more good is done by tinkering than by starting over from scratch. I claim for this approach that it fits in with the Hippocratic injunction to the doctor to “do no harm” and that gradient methods are a good all-purpose recipe for local optimization. What about global optimizations? Good point. I suppose I worry that enthusiastic seekers after global maxima run the risk of falling off steep cliffs. On the bad side, I know I sometimes find myself doing meaningless busywork when I could presumably spend my time at something more useful. My wife reminds me that once, when we discovered that the automatic wake-up mechanism in our hotel room was not working, I spent an hour and a half trying to fix it. (I got it to work. Once.) No recipe for coping is perfect.

-Eminent Economists Their Life Philosophies, p. 271-2

Related;
Nobel Interview
Solow, Bhagwati, Krugman Evaluate the Human Cost of Trade, Economic Liberalization
The U.S. Economy: The Last 50 Years and the Next 50 Years
The Embodiment Question

Prize Lecture

Mysteries of Growth

Solow's Surprise: Investment is not the Key to Growth ch. 3 of Easterly

4 comments:

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