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Budgeting Time

We’ve all heard the old saying “time is money.” And while it may be a little over dramatic, I love that it emphasizes just how valuable time is.

We value money. And as a result we spend time & energy budgeting our money. But have you ever thought of budgeting your time?

If you’re anything like me, you often get to the end of the day & think “where did the time go?” I spent a month recently budgeting my time and what I discovered amazed me. Writing out how I was spending my time made me much more aware of where it all was going.

To get started on my time budget I had to figure out how many hours I had to work with. I calculated the number of hours in a week. Then I subtracted  a set goal of 7 hours of sleep a night minimum. I was left with 126 hours in a week, 18 hours in a day.

My next step was to sit down & categorize my time into 5 areas. Incidently these are the same 5 areas of responsibility I use in Things, my task management system (more on that in a later post). I thought about what percentage of my time I wanted to allocate to each area during the week & noted that in hours.

Now I was ready to get down to the details of my time budget. I wrote out each day of the week in half hour increments & wrote in set things already scheduled from my calendar. Then I filled in everyday life tasks like taking a shower, eating breakfast. Seriously, life takes more time than you think! :) Finally I looked at my list of things to be accomplished for the week & scheduled a time for them in a day.

I felt ready to tackle the week…like for once I might come out victorious in the battle against the clock.

But then the reality hit. At the end of each day I would write in on my hourly schedule how I actually spent my time. I discovered that perhaps I was a little overly optimistic in my budgeting. Or that maybe I just needed to be a little more disciplined in my spending. Either way, it was a beneficial exercise that I continue to do on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes that’s what it takes to create new habits.

Have you ever done a time budget?

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