“Time is the only commodity that matters.”
In 2007, Randy Pausch, a well known professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, gave a lecture at the University of Virginia titled “Time Management.” (You can watch it here) He gives excellent advice on many areas of work. Here are a few of the main points that he makes:
- Equate time and money. Ask yourself how much your time is worth per hour. Manage your time just as carefully as you manage your money. Budget it, literally. Bad time management leads to stress. You need systemic solutions; change fundamental underlying processes. Maximizing time is the means to having more time for fun.
- Anytime anything enters your life, ask yourself “Why? What is the goal? What will happen if I don’t do it?” Doing the right things adequately is more important than doing the wrong things beautifully. A few things you do contribute most of the value. “if you can dream it, you can do it” – Walt Disney
- Dream, and do. Planning is very important. Plan each day, each week, each semester. You can always change your plan once you have it.
- When writing “To Do” lists, break things down into small, doable tasks. Do the UGLIEST thing first. Balance urgency and importance. Do stuff that’s important but not urgent, before stuff that’s urgent but not important. Keep your to-do list in front of you.
- Avoid clutter at all costs. Keep your desk clear; allow only one thing on your desk at a time. Touch each piece of paper once. A good file system is essential. Have a calendar system whereby you know where you will be at any given time next week.
- Keep your business calls short: announce your goals for the call at the beginning. Group your phone calls so that you can knock out a bunch at the same time.
- Don’t “find” time for important things, “make” it. Keep unimportant things out of your life. Learn how to say no. Find your creative time, defend it ruthlessly. Interruptions destroy your productivity.
- Keep track of how you spend your time. Ask yourself how you can spend it more efficiently. Don’t approach things like you have all the time in the world.
- Value effectiveness over efficiency. Procrastination is a universal evil. Stress comes from leaving things to the last minute.
- You can accomplish a lot more when you have help. Delegate. Grant authority and responsibility. Do the ugliest job yourself. Reinforce behavior you want repeated.
- Minimize the time you spend watching television. However, you always have time to eat, sleep, and exercise, otherwise everything falls apart.
- Most things are pass/fail. “Good enough” is usually good enough.
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