Chapter 23 Summary

I’m on My Honeymoon, but If You Need Me…

Jai sends her husband for some groceries; he decides he will get out of the store more quickly if he uses the self-scan aisle. He slides his credit card in the machine and scans all of his items, as directed. The machine tells him he owes $16.55 but does not give him a receipt; he swipes his card and starts the process over again. In a moment, the machine gives him two receipts. He has been charged twice.

Pausch has two options. He can take the receipt to the store manager and get the problem fixed, and his account will be credited for the $16.55. It will probably take ten or fifteen minutes, and there will be nothing satisfying about the experience. He asks himself if this is what he wants to spend any of his precious remaining time doing and decides to go home. He lost sixteen dollars but gained fifteen minutes of life.

As a scientist, Pausch is well aware of the importance of time, and it is one of the things he has learned to manage well. Because of that skill, he has been able to pack a lot of living into the shortened life he has been given. There are several things he has learned about managing time.

Like money, time must be managed with intention; he often tells his students it does not matter how well they polish the underside of the banister. A second principle regarding time is that a plan can always be changed, but only if there is a plan. A useful to-do list breaks the larger tasks to be accomplished into smaller pieces.

Another way to ensure effective time management is to ask if the time one has is being spent on the right things. It is a positive thing to have causes, goals, and interests, but it is important to assess them and make sure they are worth pursuing and spending time on consistently. Developing an efficient filing system is also a huge time-saver. Pausch files everything alphabetically, saying it is better than searching the house for a blue paper which he last saw when he was eating something.

Finally, Pausch recommends a re-examination of the telephone. If he is forced to be on hold, he always uses the speaker phone so his hands are free to work on something while he is waiting. He never sits while talking on the phone as an encouragement to finish the call as quickly as possible.

Delegating tasks whenever possible is another time-saving tool Pausch has learned to do, and he is an advocate of limiting business contact while vacationing. When he and Jai left on their honeymoon, he left a message on his answering machine offering each caller a complicated procedure for getting in touch with him. No one called. Time is the only thing each person has, and often it is less than he thinks.