Most of us are well aware of the concept of budgeting and frugality in the sense of money management, but have you ever thought about applying thriftiness to your time budget? After all, time is a limited resource that we all wish we had more of. There is no way to add more hours to your day, but here is a way to be thrifty with the hours you already have to fit in more of what you love.
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A time budget
I’m in the midst of listening to a book called The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa Terkheurst. The book caught my interest when I read Kalyn Brooke’s review. I can’t fully weigh in on the book just yet since I’m only halfway through. One concept the author mentions about budgeting your time really stuck with me right off the bat. It was a light bulb moment when I started thinking about my time similar to how I budget my money.
I’m busy, no doubt about it, so I’m a habitual planner. What I’ve never really paid much attention to, though, is how much of my time is left after all of my commitments. Sure, I have a vague idea, but I’ve never done the math and looked at that cold, hard number. Once I started thinking of my time as a budget and my responsibilities as debt, it caused me to look at my schedule in a whole new light.
How to calculate your time budget
Everyone’s daily time budget is 24 hours in a day (Hello, Captain Obvious). Where your budget will differ from mine is in your daily debt…also known as your time commitments. I’ll break down an average day for me as an example.
- Sleep: 7 hours
- Getting ready for work: 45 minutes
- Commute to and from work: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Work: 8 hours
- Cooking and eating dinner: 1 hour
- Kids bedtime routine: 1 hour
These are the major commitments I have each day, although they may change slightly depending on the day. For example, on days I work from home my commute is gone. Once a week, my oldest has piano lessons that will take up 1 hour of my time budget. During the school year, my kids will be in Cub Scouts and that takes 1 hour 30 minutes once per week.
And cleaning…oh, all the cleaning.
My point is your time budget will change by the day, week, and even the season.
In general, you can see that each day I’m already spending 19 hours on normal responsibilities and daily needs. That means I should have 5 hours of free time to spend on everything else.
When I first saw this number I honestly thought my math was off. Where in the world are those 5 hours hiding?! There’s no way that could be right!
But then I started to really think about it. Some days I might want to get an extra hour of sleep. Some days I may take an extra 15 minutes to get ready in the morning. Other days my kids will plan an evening rebellion causing their bedtime routine to drag on for hours. Add this to the pockets of time that can be spent here and there on little things and my 5 hours can quickly dwindle to 3 hours or less.
Take a look at your time budget. Are you in balance or are you spending more hours than you have available?
Be frugal with your time
Whether you have hours remaining or you’re in a negative balance, here are a few ways to start being frugal with your time.
- You don’t have to say yes to everything that is asked of you. There, I said it. It’s such a little word, but it is so hard to say when someone is asking you for something—especially if you have people-pleasing tendencies.
::quietly raises hand::
Determine if you have the capacity to say yes. This includes your time, emotional, physical, and mental capacity. If agreeing to a request for your time will cause you stress in any of these areas, learn to say no and save yourself some stress.
- Learn how to prioritize. Not all commitments are created equally. Figure out how to prioritize your commitments using these 7 quick and easy steps. Being able to prioritize will help you get the most out of your busy day without the stress and overwhelm that often comes when you can’t get everything done.
- Tackle your commitments with efficiency. Procrastination is my nemesis. If there is something I’m dreading, I will find just about anything else to do in its place. One way to help you beat procrastination and work more efficiently is by using a simple timer and interval schedule. You can read more about it here.
What would you do with more time?
The thought of some of these time-saving techniques may not sound like much fun, but consider what you could do if you had more free hours in the day—more quality time with the family, volunteering, or that elusive date night…
How much better would your day be if you were fitting in more of the things you love?
Take the time to write out your own time budget. If your budget is showing free time, figure out where those pockets of time are and block them out for yourself. Spend them on activities that will recharge your internal battery. If your time budget is negative, that’s an even better reason for you to figure out your time budget. Start being more frugal with your time now so you can fit in those energizing activities.
Remember to keep your goal of fitting in more of what you love in mind as you start down this time budgeting journey. It’s easy to get sidetracked with procrastination or the urgencies of each day, but finding ways to increase your free time will ultimately help you refresh, lower your stress, and give you much more energy.
…which comes in handy during those evening bedtime rebellions.
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