# How much time to spend on a single question?

When I was self-studying as an undergraduate, I would spend up to two weeks working on a single problem or trying to understand a proof in Rudin's Principles of Mathematical Analysis. I realize now that I wasted a lot of time and could have learned a lot more if I had spent less time struggling and asked other people for help/looked up with answer.

Currently I only try to spend about 30 minutes to an hour on a single problem before asking for help. Is this reasonable?

How much time should one spend working on a single question? And by question, I mean ones that you would find in upper level undergraduate and beginning graduate level textbooks.

• Depends on the question. – Gamma Function May 23 '14 at 1:01
• @GammaFunction: Can you explain what you mean? – Student May 23 '14 at 1:06
• @Student For problems in Stewart Calculus, maybe 2-5 minutes per question. For baby Rudin, 30-60 minutes sounds about right. For big Rudin, 2-6 hours per question is on the long end but within reason. For Fermat's Last Theorem, seven years will about do it. – Gamma Function May 23 '14 at 1:11
• @GammaFunction: Thank you. Actual time limits are very helpful. – Student May 23 '14 at 1:20
• I wonder how long it takes to solve a 5x5 matrix by hand. It ready does depend on the nature of the problem. – JoeTaxpayer May 23 '14 at 1:58