How to Budget your Time

Recently I heard the term “Budget your Time” and it intrigued me because I’d never heard someone phrase it in that way. More often we hear the term “manage your time.” The term “manage” for me has a negative connotation, suggesting that your time is something to be dealt with, supervised, controlled even. On the contrary, when I hear the term “Budget your Time,” to me it closely resembles “Budget your money” which makes me feel that my time is precious, thus I should be Budgeting it, or designating it to the things that are important to me, just as a designate my money. It’s all about perspective right? Did you waste your time or did you spend your time? And just like your money, if your wasting your time, you need to learn how to budget it. Let’s jump right into it.

Steps to better budget your time.

Clarify your Prioritize

As I’ve said in the past, life is about priorities— how can you budget your time if you don’t know what to do with it? What are the things that are important to you? This is a hard one because often times the things that are truly important to us are not the things we spend our time on. For example, some very well meaning parents might spend most of their time working to be able to spoil their children with all the things they never had, meanwhile spending very little time actually with their children. Of course they care about their kids, but where does there time go? This is why it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself, “What are my priorities? What do I want to spend time doing?” This will give you a clear starting point.

My “I want to spend time doing” List
  1. Connecting more with my family and friends that are far away. Ideally I’d like to check in more often and keep them updated on my life as well.
  2. Building a meditation practice. I’ve read a handful of books and tons of articles about the benefits of meditating, but I can never get around to doing it.
  3. Taking my dog on longer walks. Granted, she’s a “house dog” and doesn’t need as much exercise as other dog breeds, but she loves running around in the outdoors and I want to spend more time giving her that experience.
  4. Reading more.
  5. Writing more.
Identifying your Time Wasting Behavior

There are the things that you want to do, and the things that you inevitably do instead. As a prime example, right before writing this post, I spent a good 4 hours watching Youtube videos! Granted they were very informative and even inspirational, but perhaps 4 hours is too much time being marginally productive. Like watching tv/Youtube/Netflix/screens of any kind, there are other things we want to do less of. Taking a few minutes to think through our days and identify the things that are sucking up our time is a useful tool in the reallotting process.

My “This is blowing through my time budget” List
  1. The aforementioned screen time, whether it’s on my phone or my tablet or my tv, I find myself going through information rabbit holes that I can’t dig myself out of. The other day I fell into a cloth diapering hole where I decided I needed to know everything there is to know about cloth diapering, despite having absolutely no intentions of having children any time soon.
  2. Worrying. I spend alot of time worrying about things that are out of my control and some that will become self-fulling prophecies if I keep worrying about them (i.e hair loss).
  3. Sleeping. Lately my sleep cycle has been a bit out of wack so I’ve been falling asleep later and waking up later, causing me to be sluggish in the mornings, which is my usual prime time to be productive.
Restructure Your Days

There are many things that you can do to help you with “time management” and potentially getting more things done, but they won’t help you get the things that you necessarily want to get done, done. I find the easiest way to think about this is going back to treating time as you would treat money when you are budgeting. A good money budget, allocates most if not all of your funds to something specific. As such, you need to allocate your time accordingly.

You also want to think about the things you want to incorporate into your time budget and consider what you are currently doing vs. how you will designate your time moving forward. For me this looks something like this:

How I Currently BudgetRestructured budget
10:30pm-6am-Sleep. 10:30pm-5:45am-Sleep.
6am-8am- Wake up just in time to get ready for work, walk dog, out the door.5:45am-8am- Wake up 15 minutes earlier to sit and meditate for 10 minutes, then get ready for work, walk dog, out the door.
Misc: See friend/family calling or texting, ignore because I’m in the middle of something.Am I really in the middle of something?? Is it more important or am I just watching a movie?? If it’s important, pick up and tell them you’ll call them back, then ACTUALLY call them back. If not important, pick up and pause whatever you are doing.
Never in the schedule?? -Take my dog on long walks whenever I have free time.Wednesdays 4-6pm- take my dog out for a long walk.

Bottom Line

Oftentimes I write these posts to remind myself of things I should be doing. The idea that our time is valuable is nothing new or groundbreaking, and yet, we forget all the time. Making more time for the things that are important is challenging for most of us who already feel we’re short on time. To remedy this, I’m going to attempt the Ben Franklin approach. Essentially, Ben attempted to tackle one of his thirteen virtues a week for 13 weeks, instead of virtues, I will use my “I want to spend more time doing this” list and attempt to create more time for a least one a week.

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