Armed with an obsessive love of color-coding and all things related to organization, I’m on a mission to help you maximize efficiency in your business and life so you can spend time on what matters most to you.
Equally right and left-brained, I’m that unique business owner who can think like a creative, but act like an administrator. This blog is where you’ll see me bring that dual-brained magic to life, taking the left-brain side of life and breaking it down for your right-brained self.
They say time is money, and the older I get, the more I’m inclined to agree.
Like money, time is a resource. Also like money, time is a resource you have to be careful with. If you’re not intentional about how you spend your money, it’s easy to come to the end of a month or the bottom of a bank account and wonder where the heck it all went.
In the same the same way, if you’re not intentional about how you spend your time, it’s easy for the days, week, months, and even years to pass without making any real progress on the things in this life that are important to you.
Now, more so than ever, I believe it’s of immense importance to budget your time. Our lives are filled with so many distractions that make it immensely easy to waste minutes and hours, which might not seem like much at the time, but just like those $5 lattes, when you look back, you can see that the little things really add up.
When it comes to spending your time well, it comes to the exact same principle for spending your money well — making a plan in advance and sticking to it.
Now, you might be sitting here thinking the idea of budgeting your time is kind of ridiculous. But would you say the same of budgeting your money? (You might, but if that’s the case… we’ve got bigger problems to discuss. 😂)
The reality is, your time is a resource just like your money.
In fact, it’s an even more valuable resource than your money because you can’t get it back.
If you’re irresponsible one month with your money, you can still right the ship, as it were. You can employ a myriad of strategies to get yourself out of the red zone with your financial spending and get things back on track.
The same isn’t true for your time. If you waste your time one month, one week, or even one day… it’s gone. It might sound a little dramatic, but it’s 100% the truth.
Your time is quite literally one of the most valuable resources you have and ever will be given, so if you want to spend it well, you have to be intentional about it.
And that is why you should budget your time, because as much as you might think you’re naturally just going to spend it well and come out on the other side of 50 years accomplishing all the things you want to accomplish… that’s simply not the case. (Unless you’re a unicorn or something, in which case, we should talk.)
No matter who you are, no matter where you are, no matter what stage of life you’re in, your time is a precious gift that should be spent well.
But the question is… how?
Going back to the whole time is money analogy, creating a budget for your time is quite similar to creating a budget for your money — you need to compare your income to your expenses, assess your spending habits and goals, and create a plan to make those goals a reality.
Most of us complain about not having enough time to do all the things we want to do, and while that may actually be true in some cases (I know I’m not the only overcommitter with #alltheideas around here), the reality is, you probably have a lot more time than you think… you’re just not spending it well.
We could harken back to singing about 525,600 minutes and while you might roll your eyes at me, there’s actually a lot of value in breaking down the amount of time you legitimately have and taking a hard look at where it’s all going.
Rather than starting with something super big like a year, why not just look at a week?
There are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, which means every single week you have 168 hours of time to spend!
Unfortunately, unlike your financial income, this is an area that’s completely non-negotiable. You aren’t ever going to get a raise and suddenly wind up with 26 hours in a day or something like that, but simply by being intentional about how you spend that time, I can guarantee it’ll feel like a raise!
So you, just like everyone else, have 168 hours of “income” each week, which is actually quite a lot when you think about it.
While your time income is not negotiable, your time expenses are — at least some of them.
Just like when you’re creating a financial budget, there are two types of expenses — discretionary and non-discretionary.
Non-discretionary expenses are those things you have to pay every week or month — think your rent, insurance, and grocery bill. Discretionary expenses are those things that aren’t an absolute necessity and therefore where you have some wiggle room — think travel, eating out, recreation or entertainment, and the like.
Your time expenses work in the same way. You have non-discretionary expenses like sleep and work, and you have discretionary expenses like reading or going to the movies.
In order to get a good look at your expenses, write down all the things you spend time on or want to spend your time on. Don’t assign actual time values to them yet, just write them down.
Next, create two columns — one labeled “discretionary” and the other labeled “non-discretionary.” Now take that list of “expenses” you wrote down a minute ago and assign them a category — which things are discretionary and which things are non-discretionary?
This is an area that’s going to look a little different for every person. There are some time expenses that are going to be non-discretionary across the board — we all have to sleep and eat, after all. But there are other things that you may consider discretionary that are non-discretionary for me, and vice versa.
Once you’ve determined what your discretionary and non-discretionary time expenses are, it’s time for the hard part — tracking your spending habits, aka how you actually spend your time.
I recommend doing this for a week or two, spending your time as naturally as possible so you don’t skew the results.
You can use a time tracker tool (Toggl is my favorite) or record your time in a notebook, a spreadsheet, or a note on your phone — whatever works best for you.
Once you’ve tracked your time for a week or two, sit down and assess it. Make an initial note of how much time you spend on non-discretionary tasks vs. discretionary tasks, then break it down even further.
Now’s the time to get real honest with yourself — how do your spending habits stack up with your goals for your life?
It’s been said that if you want to see what a person values, you should look at their checkbook, but a far more telling indicator of what someone values is how they spend their time.
Intentionally or unintentionally, how you spend your time tells others what you value.
If you’re like me, tracking your time and assessing those “spending habits” for the first time was a bit of a wake up call. And while it can be scary and a bit sobering to see how much time you’ve wasted in the past on things that really don’t matter to you, there’s no time like the present to make those changes and start spending your time well.
And now you’ve got all the data to do that!
You’ve looked at your income, your expenses, and your spending habits. All that’s left now is to set the budget, create the spending plan, and ask yourself — how do you want to be spending your time?
Just like with a financial budget, a time budget is a matter of subtraction — you start with your income, you start inputting your non-discretionary expenses, you see what’s left over and decide what to do with the rest.
You might be freaking out a little bit and thinking that you’re still never going to have enough time to do the things you want to do, but I can almost guarantee that you have a whole lot more time than you think.
As we previously determined, you have 168 hours to spend every single week. Even if you spend 8 hours a night sleeping (adding up to 56 hours) and 40 hours each week working, you still have 72 hours every single week to eat, exercise, read, be with friends or family… the possibilities are literally endless!
I did my own little time assessment a few months ago and I realized, if I started to be more intentional about my time, I could get 8 solid hours of sleep, spend 30 hours in my business each week, get in my morning routine (which includes working out), my evening routine (which includes an hour of reading), and all my meals and I still have 42 hours every week left to “spend” on other things I cared about like friends, playing piano, (additional) reading, learning a new language, and more!
When you start adding it all up, you’ll realize you have a whole lot more time than you think and if you start being more intentional about how you spend all of that time, you can accomplish far more than you ever thought possible.
And to help you get started, I’ve created a time budget spreadsheet that will help you create your own spending plan for those 168 hours you’ve got each week!
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