We all know them, those people that run around harried, late for everything, their homes and cars are a mess, they lament on how busy they are and how they just can’t manage to get it all done. And we all know someone else that is the exact opposite; someone that manages to work full time, raise a family, keep their lives tidy and still have time for friends, hobbies, vacations and down time.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and how we choose to spend them is often the difference between being harried and stressed or orderly and at ease.
It all comes down to budgeting.
Many of the same tips and tricks for budgeting your money also work for budgeting your time.
#1 Track your expenditures. Keep a small notebook to track how you spend your time. For a money budget, experts recommend a whole month; but for time, just a week is usually enough to capture the bulk of your activities over week days and a weekend. This reality check of how you spend your time can be very eye opening.
#2 Make a list of monthly/weekly/daily musts. For the financial budget, these are your non-negotiables (rent, utilities, etc). For the time budget these are things you have to do (work, grocery shopping, commuting, children’s activities). That’s not to say these can’t be altered, but they are things you must spend some amount of time doing.
#3 Trim the excess. Look at the difference between #2 and #1. What things in #1 could you really live without or reduce? Easy ones are often TV watching, Internet surfing, shopping for non-essentials. This could also be spending time with family and friends out of guilt rather than for actual enjoyment. Don't give away your most precious resource out of guilt!
#4 Have Long Term and Short Term Goals. I often have my clients do an exercise I call “my perfect day”, and there are several variations that are helpful to identifying your priorities. Essentially, I ask that they take a sheet of paper and write out the daily schedule for their perfect day. Be realistic...most of your non-negotiables from #2 will need to be in the schedule, but maybe they can be altered a bit.
This is your long term plan. Compare this to #1 above, where are the gaps?
Maybe your long term plan is to retire or simply work from home to avoid commuting time. Your short term plan is what small changes you can make this week to slowly move from the schedule you identified in step#1 to move closer to the long term plan. Week after week continue to set short term goals that will slowly lead you in the right direction.
#5 Experiment. If you try something and it doesn’t work well for you, try something different. What works well for your neighbor, might not be what works best for you. Be open to experimenting, knowing that if it doesn’t work out, you can alter the plan.
#6 Pay yourself first. When budgeting money we are urged to put money into savings before we consider what we have to pay/spend. In the schedule world, it means making sure time for you is on your schedule before you start filling it in with everything else. For many people, this can be best accomplished by getting up a little earlier and having “me” time before you get lost in the day. This could also be setting aside a day of the week or a special weekend to do what you want or need to do.
Obviously making time for your hobbies is important, but "me time" could be making time to schedule out weekly meals or setting aside 3 hours on Sunday to cook meals ahead, allowing you to have less stress during the week.
The biggest difference between the 2 people I mentioned in the beginning is the time wasted on non-essential and often non-fulfilling activities. Trimming the excess in these areas and instead, using that time in a more productive (and enjoyable) manner, can make a huge difference...with time and money.
We all have the same 24 hours a day. Set an intention to make the most of yours.
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.