“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”
Do you sometimes stress trying to make time to finish everything by the end of the day? Or find yourself wishing there were just a few more hours? And most importantly – when you look back at how that time was spent, do you sometimes spend it other than how you intended?
Would you spend 10 minutes planning, if it could guarantee it would free up hours for you to spend on what you really wanted? For me anything that helps me make more time is valuable. Once I started tracking where I spent my time, I then moved to actively budgeting it – and this is the strategy I use week after week, and at this point it literally takes me a few minutes a week, and pays dividends in terms of hours.
Today join me in this discussion about how to create a time budget, and then a bonus tip at the end that I use to instantly make time for anything new that I let into my life.
Planning Your Days With A Time Budget
Budgeting where cash in your wallet goes is a great way to ensure you spend your money where your priorities are – and budgeting my time similarly ensure I spend my time appropriately on my priorities.
The first step to planning our days and week? Figure out what needs to go in the budget.
Must-Do versus Like-To-Do
One of the distinctions I make when I create a budget is what I must do versus what I like to do. There are certain things that for me are simply non-negotiable in my current lifestyle. The must do items aren’t necessarily difficult, they can be enjoyable – but it’s where I draw the line. Examples include sleeping, amount of time spent at work, and a minimum amount of time spent with friends and family.
So, the first step for me in my budget? Determine my must dos. I break this up into a few steps.
Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly Budgets
I like to do my budgeting in terms of Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly activities. For monthly and yearly, I don’t necessarily schedule all my items in advance, but I like to budget in time every week so that as these things come up (for example, annual health check ups) they do not throw off my schedule. I then determine how many hours I have available on a weekly basis, to allow some flexibility.
Also, I like to estimate high. This gives me a buffer, because I know sometimes things will take more or less time, and it’s always easy to fill the time with “Someday” projects and leisure activities if it’s there – but far worse is overcommitting and not being able to fit in everything I have scheduled, and then need to make the decision to drop something much closer to the commitment.
So, let’s take a look at an example.
- Daily Tasks.7 days a week.
- Sleep. 8 hours.
- Hygiene. 1.5 hours.
- Meals. .5 hours (if I’m just eating at home, this is the fastest it can get)
- Total – 10 hours
- Workweek/Weekday Tasks (5 days per week). My workweek is a normal weekday workweek
- Work. 9 hours. This includes my lunch break.
Weekly time used so far:
- Daily: 10 x 7 = 70 hours
- Weekday: 9 x 5 = 45 hours
Total weekly time used = 70 + 45 = 115 hours
Now one point I should note, the 45 hours per week spent at work is technically not a must do, you could make an argument that this is a like to do. After all, it’s my choice: if I wanted, I could leave my job and get a part time job working 20 hours per week. For me personally, that’s my decision to make it a must do. It’s a matter of personal satisfaction, money and the benefits that come with the type of work I do full time. If you are in school, freelance, or are an entrepreneur – that may not be a must do, it may be a like to do.
- Weekly Tasks.
- Time with friends and family. 15 hours (minimum must do).
- Grocery shopping and cooking. 10 hours. (and I have data to back this up)
- Chores. 6 hours (cleaning, random organizing, car maintenance, etc)
Total weekly time used = 115 + 31 = 146 hours
- Monthly Tasks. I tend to not have too many of these. Most of these will be captured in my generic weekly chores (for example, monthly bill payments). However, perhaps you have a particular group you volunteer with, or have activities with that would fit in here.
Total weekly time used = 146 hours
- Yearly Tasks. Here I have a lot of “life maintenance” type of stuff. I just round it up.
- Annual and biannual checkups. 20 hours (doctor, vision, dentist)
If you divide it out it comes out to less than an hour per week – I’ll go ahead and estimate high, and call it 1 hour per week.
Total weekly time used = 146 + 1 = 147 hours
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How Much Time Do You Actually Have?
Writing it out like this often is an eye opening experience. Do you know how many hours there are in a week?
24 hours per day x 7 days per week = 168 hours per week.
So for me, based on these numbers, how much time do I actually have left for other items in my life?
168 hours total – 147 spent = 21 hours left
And that is why any time that I have is so valuable. Out of 168 total hours, 21 hours is left over and I can spend differently it week to week. That’s still a lot of time – that comes out to 3 hours per day, but it’s going to be eaten up fast,
Go Do Your Budget
Now that I’ve shown you step by step the basics, it’s your turn. Put together your budget. And remember – I do this same exercise with my paying clients. Don’t discount how powerful it is: this is an exercise that has changed people’s lives. Take it seriously – and it just might change yours
Need more time? You don’t have to go it alone. If you like what you’ve seen so far, and want to make the most out of your life, take a moment to read the details about my course The Action Solution and see if it’s something you’d be interested in. No matter where you are in your life, I can help you take action and achieve what really matters to you.
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