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Management of projects requires math (or maths as we would call it here). You will need to be able to create a budget, use data from time-tracking software, and calculate the lead and lag times for project tasks. Earned value is another important topic.
Many people find math difficult. Laura Laing tries to make math easy in her book Math for Grownups.
She writes, “Remember, it is only a tool…It is a language that describes how the world fits together.” Math allows us to make quick decisions and make predictions. Math makes us feel confident and powerful.
It can be difficult to remember how to calculate ratios when you haven’t used your scientific calculator since school. Laing writes:
“It’s understandable if it’s difficult to grasp basic math facts… Once you understand how arithmetic works you can make up most math facts that you’ve forgotten.”
Her book explains how math works and gives you the confidence and skills to tackle everyday math problems. If you don’t know the answer, you can always look it up online. This book is not about making things more difficult than they need to be to prove that you can do long division in your head.
Math for Grownups teaches you how to change your attitude towards math. It covers skills such as fractions and estimation and explains them using real-world examples, such as how to use discount coupons at the supermarket. This doesn’t mean it is a boring text. Laing is explaining negative exponents before you reach the 50th page. A glossary of financial terms and math terms is included in the appendix.
Math for Grownups also focuses on reclaiming numbers for you. Math doesn’t have to be a constraining factor. The book’s underlying message is that math can be your friend. Do you want to buy a fancy new ice cream maker or not? Math will help you determine if you have the money, but even if it isn’t possible, you still have the option. Laing writes, “Remember that it is you who make the final decisions. Not the numbers on the pages.”
Laing demonstrates simple tricks throughout the book to make calculations and equations easier. Her philosophy on estimating is key to this. She explains how to drop fractions from numbers, do math with whole numbers, and then add the parts back together. It is enough to do math that gives you a satisfactory answer.
“Throughout your math education, you were taught exact ways to solve problems. You may have learned that precision is a key component of math.
Math is a science that can be exact, but you have the ability to decide when a precise answer is needed and when an estimate will suffice. It is important to estimate with care. You don’t want to cut corners and end up with an estimate that’s either too small, or too big.
When you have found your solution, ask yourself the following question: “Is it reasonable?”
There are many real-world examples, from buying a car to scaling up recipes to deal with a glut in tomatoes from the garden. Chapter 8 is about household budgets, but there is no specific math for work-related math such as project budgets. This section also examines salary negotiations and how to calculate the value of a raise if it pushes one into a higher tax bracket.
Laing provides readers with the tools to become more confident in managing numbers. This can be done by practicing in situations that aren’t at stake. For example, calculating the grams of fat on food labels or figuring out how much each family owes to rent a villa for friends.
Laing encourages us all to have a relationship that is based on numbers and puts us back in control.
If you have difficulty calculating fractions and ratios,