Randy Pausch on Time Management

After Randy Pausch’s phenomenal Last Lecture, he recorded another great one on Time Management lecture at the University of Virginia which you can view below:

The full slide deck can be downloaded here: Randy Pausch Time Management slides.

I have condensed the talk’s key points into this list of top tips:

  1. Make sure that you understand that time = money
    1. Understand what your time is worth to both you and your employer and use that to make better decisions about money
  2. The real reason to maximise your time is actually to maximise FUN!
  3. Maximising your time well makes you successful
  4. When assessing your goals:
    1. Why are you doing it?
    2. Why will I succeed?
    3. What will happen if I don’t do it?
    4. Doing things right vs doing the right things
    5. 100 life goal list – read it weekly and ask if you are working on something from it
  5. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Walt Disney
  6. To fail to plan is to plan to fail
  7. You can’t change a plan if you don’t have one!
  8. Break your to-do list down into small steps
  9. If you have to eat a frog, don’t spend a lot of time looking at it
    1. If you have to eat three, eat the biggest and ugliest one first
  10. Covey’s four-quadrant To-Do list
    1. If it is urgent but not important, DON’T DO IT!
  11. Keep your desk clear apart from one piece of paper that you are going to work on next
  12. Touch each piece of paper once
  13. Your email inbox is not your to-do list
  14. Practice “inbox zero”
  15. Filing systems are crucial – have one
  16. Have your desk in front of a window when you can.
  17. Get a second computer monitor to improve your productivity:
    1. One for your To-Do list
    2. One for email inbox
    3. One for calendar
  18. Get a calendar
  19. Get a speakerphone to counter stress (as you may be on hold a lot)
  20. Keep your calls short
    1. Stand for the call
    2. Start by announcing your goals for the call
    3. Have something on your desk that you want to do next
    4. Group your phone calls
    5. Call someone just before lunch or the end of the day if you want a short call!
  21. Write a thank-you note with paper and pen
    1. Have a stack ready on your desk so that you can send them
  22. Don’t have comfortable chairs for guests in your office
  23. You don’t “find time”, you make it!
  24. Be mindful of opportunity costs
  25. Learn to say no!
  26. Schedule dead time
  27. Reduce your interruptions
  28. Group items/requests for people
  29. Have a time log/time journal to see what you were doing with your time
    1. Randy hoped that time journals become automatic (which has come true!)
  30. Make a fake meeting to do something when you have a gap between commitments
  31. Think about how you could delegate effectively
    1. Also think about how you could stop wasting other people’s time
  32. Having a spouse and kids helps you to manage time as it creates a sense of urgency
  33. Prioritise effectiveness over efficiency
  34. Doing things at the last minute is really expensive
  35. If your deadline is way off, make up a fake deadline to do part of the work sooner
  36. If you procrastinate there is a hidden reason, like you are worried you might look stupid or fail
  37. Sometimes all you have to do is ask
  38. If you delegate, grant authority with responsibility
  39. Delegate but always do the ugliest job yourself
  40. Treat your people well
  41. When delegating be specific and make the consequences to them clear
  42. People like being challenged so delegate more!
  43. Give people objectives not procedures
  44. Brief people on the relative importance of each task
  45. Praise and thank people when they do a good job
  46. Meetings should never last more than hour
  47. Meetings should have an agenda
    1. Don’t go to a meeting that doesn’t have an agenda
    2. Nominate a scribe to write up the minutes/action points
  48. “Computers are faster, they just take longer”
  49. Only use technology that helps you
  50. Don’t delete email, archive it
  51. When delegating by email, send it to one person and/or name them explicitly
  52. It’s not a vacation if you’re reading email
  53. Get rid of your television
  54. Turn money into time (especially if you have small kids)
    1. Hire people to do the small tasks
  55. Eat, sleep and exercise
  56. Never break a promise (but renegotiate if need be)
  57. Most things are pass or fail
    1. Don’t spend too much time on the unimportant details
  58. If you don’t have time to do it right, you don’t have time to do it wrong
  59. Ask people in confidence for feedback