Do you budget your time like you budget your money?
I’ll admit, I’m not the queen of financial budgeting. I’ve always have a rough idea in my head of where my finances stand, but I tell myself I am frugal enough that I don’t need an exact budget to follow. Now, as an adult with a business, I realize that’s not a wise way to live long term, so it got me to thinking. Do I treat my time the same way I treat my money? Budgeting time can be like budgeting your money. Am I budgeting my time wisely?
Time can be just as valuable as the dollar, and just as valuable to budget. Humor this perspective and analogy. Let’s look at spending our time like we’d look at spending our money.
The key to budgeting anything:
- know how much you have
- decide where/how to spend it
- track expenditures along the way
- adjust as unexpected occasions arise
- re-evaluate as situations change
This breaks down the perspective of time awareness very clearly for me. I can be so flippant on how I spend my time. If I spent my money like I spend my time, I’d be broke and scrounging for more. My eyes are open to a new way of looking at how I spend my minutes, hours, and days.
Let’s apply these key budgeting points to our time awareness and maybe you and I can both learn where we can save…and where we can afford to spend a little more.
Know how much you have – well, this one is easy because we all have the same amount. Regardless of if you think your neighbor has more or not, we all have the same: 24 hours. No more no less.
Decide where/how to spend it – the amount of work, activities, travel time, sleep, etc is the dividing factor amongst us all. Map out the big areas in your life and determine how much time you actually spend vs how much time you want/should spend in each area. There may be areas you can trim down: group errands, plan ahead, order online, or join forces with others. There may be aspects that are worth outsourcing [like cleaning or grocery shopping] to spend more time in other places. If time is valuable, then you have to make hard choices and be disciplined about sticking to the ‘budget.’
Track expenditures along the way – you have to document where your time goes throughout the days/weeks. If you don’t, then at the end of the month when things aren’t accomplished, you’ll wonder where you “spent too much.” For some people, you may need to literally write down where you spend your time for the first couple weeks, to have a clear view of where your time is going. For others, you may just need to start taking note of certain tasks that don’t ever get accomplished or that suck up too much of your time so you can better plan. Choose to be aware of where your time goes.
Adjust as unexpected occasions arise – there are always unexpected activities or emergencies that come up that we don’t plan for – both good and bad. Unfortunately we can’t put time in a savings account like we can money [though that would be amazing!], but we can intentionally plan for the unexpected. Efforts such as: planning ahead, preparing for the ‘predictable’ unforeseen, readjusting quickly, and allowing for extra buffers in our schedule. Don’t budget every minute of your day or you’ll be broke when something extra pops up. And often times, those are exciting activities that we don’t want to miss out on!
Re-evaluate as situations change – as life stages change your financial needs and commitments evolve, and it’s the same for your time. What you once were able to make time for, you may soon no longer be able to. And what was once a huge chunk of your day, may soon be obsolete as kids get older and careers change. Always be sure you’ve adjusted your time budget as the years pass by and give yourself a little bit of grace in the process.
This perspective is a new spin on the saying ‘time is money and money is time.’ Let’s start approaching our time with a budget, so we can afford to spend time in the most important places!
Need help budgeting time and becoming more productive with the time you’ve been given? Michelle, Organizer + Coach offers productivity coaching to help you break through the mindsets that are holding you back and find solutions to be more organized, productive, and healthy. Contact her here.
Read more about time: The myths we believe about time