Living Within a Time Budget
By Paris Love
Sometimes it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Life is busy, and it’s hard to prioritize; everything you want to do is so important. It’s a constant juggling act, and often a battle with the clock, that can leave you feeling stressed and exhausted.
No matter how hard you wish, beg, or place intentions, the fact is: there are 24 hours in a day. Period. So, how can you manage that time – the same time the President of the United States, the mother of triplets, and a corporate businesswoman has – in a productive, positive, and less stressful way?
The standard time management answer is to set a daily schedule and “chunk” your time, but this doesn’t account for surprises, interruptions, or workflow. As the leader of Paris Love Productivity Institute, I coach my clients to work with a time budget. By viewing time as something that you have a specific amount of, like the money in your financial budget, you can learn to spend it wisely for the most impact.
Creating a time budget that works for you
1. Where does the time go? Start by logging your time for a few days so that you can see what you spend your time doing – an essential step in budgeting your time. You can’t accurately budget time if you don’t know where you are spending it and how long it takes you to complete your tasks . A time log helps you to identify time sinkholes, your productive time use, and areas where you need help! Log everything, as in the chart below. Do this log for two weekdays and one weekend day.
|Activity||Time of Day||Total time spent||Category|
|Get up and shower||7:00 – 7:45 am||45 minutes|
|Kids breakfast and off to school||7:45 – 8:15 am||30 minutes|
|Drive to work||8:15 – 8:45 am||30 minutes|
|Get coffee, chat with colleagues||8:45 – 9:15 am||30 minutes|
2. Categorize your activities. Now, go down your list and categorize your activities into the following sections:
- Non-negotiable: Include self-care items like sleeping, eating, and any item you absolutely will not consider negotiating, because it is critical to you. This includes time with your spouse, family, and children.
- Must do’s: Include the activities that you must do, like cooking, walking the dog, driving to work, cleaning the house, etc.
- Want to do: List the activities that you like to do: watching TV, going to the movies, surfing the Internet, dining with friends, painting, knitting, etc.
- Not necessary: This section is for time sinkholes. Use this label when you find something you are doing that you don’t need or want to do.
There are other ways to look at this category section, and you can find them on this time budgeting article that breaks it down into real numbers!
3. Give yourself a cushion. It is much better to overestimate how long you will need to complete an activity than to short yourself. In a time management article on Info Bucket, Jo Swann point out, “Recognize that while you can’t factor for 15 incoming calls in one morning and an impromptu conference call in the afternoon, you can ensure you have some free time built into every day to take account of these unplanned distractions.” Similar to how you deal with money, allowing some extra time makes room for the unexpected in managing your time.
4. Sleep is a MUST DO! Dr. Timothy Roehrs, director of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, studied the effect of sleepiness on decision-making. He found that not having enough sleep takes a toll on effective decision-making. Harvard Health Publications points out that sleep deprivation affects learning, memory, metabolism, weight, safety, mood, immune functions and cardiovascular health. Bottom line: it’s counterproductive to give up the right amount of sleep for time.
5. Streamline it. Is there anything you can change to use less time during any given task? Remember, you are not trying to streamline to cram in more ‘to do’s.’ Organization is key to streamlining and managing your time. If it takes you ten minutes to find that one piece of mail from last week that you need today, filing organization can cut that down to one minute. Similarly, if you waited until the last minute to start on a project, instead of organizing it into individual tasks over the previous week, your stress level will most certainly rise.
6. Create your time budget. Create a time budget with real numbers just as you would for a monthly spending budget. You are trying to come up with a 24 hour time budget because that’s all you have to spend. If you add up your ‘non-negotiables,’ ‘must do’s,’ and ‘like to do’s’ and they total to more than 24, something has to go or your time allotment for a particular activity must be adjusted. Be sure to also include some ‘like-to-do’s’ in your plan as well (all work and no play equals….). Consider hiring or asking someone to do the must-do’s you don’t like to do, and remember to include your time cushion in the calculations.
With a time budget, you’ll find yourself creating more free time and living a less stressful everyday life. This simple planning tool can take less than ten minutes to do a day and offers some definite savings on those 24 hours you have to spend
Author, Coach, Speaker, Paris Love specializes in helping women entrepreneurs organize their goals and intentions into achievable bite-sized pieces so they restore their quality of life that’s infused with meaningful work and wealth. To learn more about her life’s work and business visit her website at www.ParisLoveInstitute.com or by calling 770-722-2748.