Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Randy Pausch Teaches Us about Time Management


Since my mom died of pancreatic cancer last May, Randy Pausch caught my attention in September 2007 when I read about him in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Randy Pausch set the tone early on yesterday at his farewell lecture at Carnegie Mellon University.

"If I don't seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you," said Dr. Pausch, a 46-year-old computer science professor who has incurable pancreatic cancer.

It's not that he's in denial about the fact that he only has months to live, he told the 400 listeners packed into McConomy Auditorium on the campus, and the hundreds more listening to a live Web cast.

It's more that "I am in phenomenally good health right now; it's the greatest cognitive dissonance you will ever see -- the fact is, I'm in better shape than most of you," he said.
But I didn't get around to watching his Last Lecture until yesterday, when I again read about him - this time in Parade Magazine.

But while Pausch has become somewhat famous for his Last Lecture, he also did a lecture on Time Management in November 2007. Here are just some of the points he made:

empty e-mail in-box

1. Keep your e-mail in-box empty; it's not your to-do list. (That's his empty one shown above.)

2. Break down items on your to-do lists into small pieces; "get tenure" was on his once upon a time, and that wasn't really helpful in moving him along!

3. Kill your television - or at least put it away in a closet.

4. Keep a time journal so you can see where your time is going. You'll be surprised.

5. Recognize that most things are pass/fail. (That's a good reminder for all of us with perfectionistic tendencies.)

6. Always make time to sleep, eat, and exercise.

But to really appreciate the lecture, you really have to see it. As he points out, he has some expertise in making the most of your time - including when you find out you're going to have much less time than you expected.


SueBK said...

Thank you so much for posting this link. I've never heard of Randy Pausch before. I started watching the video of his time management lecture last night. Decided I should watch it when I was more fully awake.
There are many who would laugh that I would watch a time management lecture. It is seen as one of my outstanding strengths; but I am only too well aware of just how much time I waste, and how short life really is.
I don't think anyone person ever has the complete story on any particular subject, and you can always learn from other people's experience and wisdom.
I loved the comment about the inbox (about where I got up to last night). I can't bare having emails sitting in my inbox, and now I have a great justification for removing them!

Jeri Dansky said...

SueBK, thank you so much for writing. One of the things I love about blogging is pointing people to resources that really help them, and it's wonderful to know when I've succeeded. (And Randy Pausch is worth knowing about.)

For more support for the empty in-box approach, you can read David Allen's Getting Things Done or Mark Hurst's Bit Literacy. Or read 43Folders on the web.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Jeri, I have no personal or financial connection to this particular link and it perfectly fits the topic of your post:

The Progressive Mind Gifts

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Vast HTML conspiracy against me wins again! Sorry.

The link should have taken you to the specific page and I have no clue why it didn't. So, if you go to the website, then go to Buddhist gifts, then go to bumper stickers, you will find one that says:

"The trouble is that you think you have time."

That's why I thought it was perfect for your post -- which, by the way, was an especially moving one. Thank you for sharing!

Jeri Dansky said...

Cynthia, thanks for the wonderful pointer. The HTML problem seems to be an extraneous slash at the end of the URL. Here (hopefully) is the bumper sticker.

Anonymous said...

I've been living without TV for the past 24 years (I am single and live alone and I am 46 years old, too). This does not mean I never watch TV, of course I do when I visit other people. But there isn't such a noise at home. I may miss very good programs, I know. But this is my choice, and so far, I've never regret.


Jeri Dansky said...

Silvia, I feel exactly the same way about TV; I know there are some good programs, but I have no regrets about not owning a TV myself.

It's sort of like anything else I'd use very infrequently - I can "borrow" one (by having a neighbor tape a show for me, and watching it at her home, for example) the few times I really want it.