Earlier this week, I ran across an excellent talk on time management by Randy Pausch. If you’re not familiar with Pausch, he’s a former Carnegie Mellon computer science professor who died of pancreatic cancer this past summer at the age of 47, leaving behind a wife and three young children.
Pausch delivered this talk just over three months after being told that he had “three to six months of good health left.” As such, he’s a self-proclaimed authority on talking about “what to do with limited time.” Certain parts of his talk really resonated with me.
The time/money relationship
Pausch’s talk spanned more than an hour, and covered topics including how to set goals, how to avoid wasting time, how to deal with a boss, and how to delegate to people. But a recurring theme was the relationship between time and money.
He argued early on that, while Americans are accustomed to dealing with money as a commodity, we’re not good at dealing with time as a commodity. As such, we do a very poor job of equating time with money, and are far too willing to waste the former while keeping track of the latter.
Turning money into time
Near the end of his talk, Pausch revisited the time/money point when he argued that people should go out of their way to turn money into time. That’s right… Rather than using your time to earn more money, you should use your money to free up your time. He went on to argue that this is especially important for people with children and/or other family commitments.
This really hit home for me, as we’re constantly short on time. Between working a full-time job, managing our business endeavors, and raising four kids, we’re swamped. While we’re now in a position where we can afford to “outsource” some of our less desirable tasks in the name of creating more time for ourselves, it hasn’t always been this way. On top of that, my wife and I are both do-it-yourselfers by nature, which makes it very hard for us to let go.
But guess what? Our kids are getting older every day. I know that this sounds a bit melodramatic, but… Bit by bit, our time with them is slipping away. It’s not really something that we notice on a daily basis, but it only takes a quick glance through a photo album to see how fast they’re growing up.
Putting words into action
If we want more time with them while they’re young, then we need to change our mindset. I’ve argued in the past that it’s okay to spend money — and not just on needs, but on things that you want, as well. That’s the whole point of having your finances in order, isn’t it?
Well, I want a less hectic life. I want more time with my family. I want a better balance. And I’m willing to pay someone to help out with some of the more mundane tasks around here in order to achieve these things.
If you’re curious about Pausch’s talk, you can view it below. Note that you can safely skip to the seven and a half minute mark if you’re not interested in the introductory remarks. Also note that Pausch authored a book called “Time Management” that was published posthumously.