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Time Management from a Dying Professor


Time management from a dying professor.

When Randy Pausch, a renowned Computer Science professor, got cancer, he decided to give one last lecture on time management before he died.

These are my top 10 takeaways from his brilliant lecture.

  1. Focus on the highest value tasks & ignore/delegate the rest (see #4)

  2. Strive for good enough to take advantage of the 80/20 rule, but make sure you do it right

  3. "Finding time to do things" doesn't exist. You need to make time by actively choosing not to do something else

  4. Use the Eisenhower decision matrix to categorize tasks.

If it's urgent + important, do it now. If it's non-urgent + important, schedule a time to do it If it's urgent + not important, try to delegate it If it's non-urgent + not important, ignore it

  1. Make a fake deadline and pretend it's real to deal with procrastination

  2. Work to slowly minimize wasted time through weekly reflections and periodically tracking your time

  3. You can't accomplish anything worthwhile alone. Write thank you notes to people who help you

  4. Find your creative time, the few hours a day you are most productive in, and guard it with your life (no meetings)

  5. Set an hourly rate for your time & value it more than your money. Try to outsource most things below your rate

  6. It takes time to recover after you're interrupted. Checking your phone for 3 minutes takes ~10 minutes away from you, since you need to refocus.

Minimize this by:

  • eliminating distractions (phone in another room)
  • batching tasks (checking email a few times a day)


Building your talent stack will give you a unique edge for particular roles or tasks. In doing so, you won't be competing with everyone else anymore. You won't be playing a zero sum game.

Instead, you'll be focusing on yourself, playing positive sum games, and building your own path.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to DM me on Twitter and I'd be more than happy to chat about your talent stack.