It’s no secret that I’m into maximizing my time here on earth.
I believe time management and productivity is not only a major struggle, but also that most of us choose to be busy and don’t have a good account of where I time actually goes!
Also related, just my beliefs, it’s even a spiritual issue and yet I struggle with this as much as the next person!
If you’re like me and you’ve been known to give away more time than you have to give, and you can tend to live your life in “time-debt”, then you might really benefit from doing this super simple exercise.
I originally developed this for myself while in full time ministry, but I’ve also used it with different guys I mentor to help them get a realistic grasp of their time constraints and set priorities wisely.
While this is one of the most simple methods you can use, it may still shock you how effective it can be.
Why This Is Important And How It Could Help You
Knowing your time budget is vital!
Just like with our finances, when we try to spend what we don’t have, it ultimately ends up putting hurt on everyone involved and it will eventually wear you out.
It will likely also leave people lacking trust in you.
It’s simply not a great way to live!
So here are a few scenarios in which this resource could help you out:
- You work on a team in an organization and roles aren’t very clearly defined and you’re often helping each other out with different tasks. You need to know what you have to say “no” to for the good of all.
- You’re a student and your semester is looking rather busy, but you’d like to be involved in some organizations, projects, and relationships but you’re not sure if you’ll have the time to do it well… and you do want to do them well!
- You’re a blogger and you continually underestimate how much time it will take to knock out some blog posts and still do life each week. You gotta get a grip on these constraints.
- You’re a team leader, mentor, or coach and you want to see, as well as help your people see, how they spend their time and energy and whether or not it is accomplishing what is best or truly desired.
- You continually feel overwhelmed with the normal life routines and relationships. You need a simple, bird’s-eye perspective to get your mind around what’s going on before you end up (more) exhausted.
That’s just a few ways I know you could find this resource useful. So now, let’s get down to it!
How To Use The Super Simple Time Budget
Just like in financial budgeting, there are a couple approaches you can use in time budgeting as well. With this specific resource, here are the two methods I find most helpful.
I often encourage people to do a combination of both and and compare them, which I’ll explain. Neither of these are rocket science – remember, we’re keeping it super simple with this post.
Method 1 – Create Your Realistic Week!
This is especially beneficial to those who do have a predictable week or repeating tasks. You can see what time is already given away and what you have left to work with, and then make your decisions around that.
- Download and print the time budget sheet that I’ve provided below.
- Grab a pencil and block off your times in the grid that are already accounted for. The challenge here is to be realistic on how much time you really do need for these things! Don’t lie to yourself or even say, “but I’m going to get better about this.” This is the time for being realistic for this present moment!
- Survey the time that you have left. What days, evenings, and chunks of hours here and there are left to your disposal? Add this up and ask yourself: Is this enough time for me to accomplish the next thing I’m wanting done? Is this enough that my kids, spouse, friends, family, get to see me this much? Is this enough spent on myself, my improvement, and rest?
- You aren’t done until you go through the blocked off time and you ask, is this a good way to spend this time every week? Ask yourself:
- Was I aware that I spent this much time doing that!?
- How much money correlates to me spending this much time on that?
- Could I spend less on this, or let it go completely, to have more time for what I’m wanting to accomplish?
I believe you’ll find this valuable simply because we often surprise ourselves when we get a zoomed out view of our lives. Did you know, for example, that the average American can watch TV for 4 hours per day? Did you know this means you’ll spend 1/6th of your life watching TV if that’s true of you? That means 12.5 years of your life you did nothing but watch someone else’s.
We can do better than that. People need you more than that, so don’t sell yourself short.
Method 2 – Create Your Idealistic Week
This approach really helps those of us who don’t always have a predictable schedule in a week. Likely though, you’ll have some repeating tasks and for sure some desired goals that you’ll want to accomplish each week, so this will help you budget to make sure you can get those accomplished.
- Download and print the time budget sheet that I’ve provided below.
- Grab a pencil and block off your times in the grid that are already accounted for. This should include meals and rest for the average mortal – but ya know, as long as that’s you.
- Then add in the times that you suspect you need for getting done what you want done. This is like saying, if it’s all up to me, this is what I think is the best use of my time and will accomplish what I know I want to. Again, “idealistic” shouldn’t mean unreasonable. Be real about your limitations.
- If you get everything in that you are wanting to get in, then survey the time you have left and this is the time you have to take on other things. Go you! You’re available for reasonably serving others or setting a new goal for yourself!
- If you don’t get everything in, then don’t panic, you’re normal! Begin the process of deciding what is going to have to wait for another time so that you can accomplish what must be accomplished in this season of life for the next few weeks.
Bonus: Combo Method (Good For Fixing A Bad Budget)
With many people I find we need to combine the above two because few actually have spare time and aren’t doing this out of a “proactive, plan-ahead state of life” but more of a “dig myself out of this mess” state of life. As in, we need to put down what a week most often does look like because of bad habits, over-commitments, poor time management, or just a hectic season of life. Then, we need to put down what we wish it looked like, and do our best to merge the two and create order!
Don’t feel bad if this is you! The first step to fixing the problem is realizing there is one! Once you get the hang of this and work it out, you’ll be able to then do these from a proactive instead of reactive state in the future. So for now, here’s the steps:
- Do Method One and be cold-hard real with yourself. List it all – good, bad, and ugly.
- Do Method Two and try to put in all the blocks of involvement and everything you want to do.
- Print out another sheet and do a real budget and decide what’s indispensable, what’s luxury, what’s just stupid planning, and so on. Maybe even contact people and let them know you’re over budget and you’ll have to back out if possible. Do what it takes to make things fit, even if it hurts a bit.
- Make copies and hang them up. Take pictures and set them as your background on your computer or whatever. Set this in your calendar app. Do what it takes to start sticking to your new budget!
- When you get ahead of the game a bit, reassess and do these from a pro-active place where you decide what you’re doing and can make educated choices in the future.
There you have it! Your very own time budget! Make sure you keep it visible till it becomes engrained.
This is one of the most simple places to start that I know of. There are some more, slightly more “advanced” methods, but get the hang of this and you’ll be ready when I post on the other methods I use.
Let me know if you do something like this and how it works for you? What are you wanting to accomplish with it? What did you realize about yourself? How has it helped you?