One day, when I was in high school, one of my teachers gave us an unexpected exam with 20 exercises and 2 hours to solve it. He told us to read carefully every exercise before doing the test and he also told us that we could leave the class as soon as the test was finished. The test began with a general explanation insisting on reading everything before solving the exam. Questions were not specific to the subject but more oriented to general culture and personal opinion and the answers were extensive, so it took us some time to complete every exercise. The results? We all failed the test!
The exam was extremely simple to solve, but none of us pay any attention to the main prompt: read everything before answering the questions. The last question said something like “Write just your name and do not answer any of the questions above”… That was truly a lesson.
Nowadays, when I need to do something I don’t know exactly how to do or when I’m trying anything new, I do spend some time researching, reading, understanding and thinking and that way, not only I can do things quicker and better, but I also end up learning much more than when I don’t take that time.
But it’s not always that way… I’m an anxious person and a little bit lazy occasionally, and is in those occasions when I end up finding written in bold and with colours the answer I spend hours looking for.
So my advice for any interested but especially for me (I do need to repeat myself this stuff now and then) is to take your time to understand your problem, to read what you don’t know and to think and plan how are you going to solve it. There’ll be many times when it’s not possible to know exactly how, but al least is good to have an idea than to just improvise. Don’t get me wrong, improvising is good, but don’t let improvisation rule your life.