Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Time Budget: How Managing Your Most Important Resource Can Change Your Life

Making ends meet is never an easy task and for that reason most people have a budget they use to track their spending. Most of us have learned that having a system to make the best use of our money is incredibly helpful. It allows us to meet our most pressing financial needs, plan for the future, and enjoy the present a bit more. As important as it is to handle your money well, it’s even more crucial to manage your time well. People have run out of money and bounced back tons of times. Once you run out of time, however, there is no bouncing back. Here are three thoughts to help you begin to budget your most important resource more effectively:

Don’t Cheat Your Sleep

You only have 24 hours with which to work each day. The way you use those hours will determine how effective you are today, this week, and 20 years down the road. Most people need between 6 – 8 hours of sleep each night. For the majority of us getting less than 6 or more than 8 on a consistent basis will have negative consequences. It’s easy to accumulate more and more demands on our time each day, and the first place we tend to try to steal hours from is our sleep. Not only does sleep recharge your body, it refocuses your mind. The hours you steal from sleep may help you get ahead today, but they will cost you tomorrow.

Some Hours Are Better Than Others

Let’s face it, you are not equally productive all throughout your day. In the same way that there are limits to the number of hours you have in a day, there are also limits on the number of quality hours you have each day.  We have dips in energy and lags in concentration all throughout our day, it’s one  limitation that we all have in common. Instead of ignoring that limitation and pretending that it doesn’t affect you, plan with it in mind. Take time over the next few days and see when you are the most clear and most focused. Are you better in the morning? Is the evening your most productive time? Are there times when you get tired and are not as sharp? Next, slot your most important tasks into the hours when you are most focused and most motivated. Don’t schedule your tasks according to urgency, but according to importance. You will see an immediate improvement in your productivity.

Think Big Picture

When you choose where you spend those 16-18 hours you have left in your day, begin with the end of your story in mind. When you are 70 what will you have wanted to achieve? How close will you want to be with your family? How important will your physical health be to you? The way you divide your time now will determine how satisfied with life you are then. How many hours will you invest in your family? How much time will you spend at work? What sort of chunk of time will your hobbies gobble up? You need to make all of these decisions in light of what you value the most. So, take some time, sit down and be honest with yourself. Will the way you are using your hours this week make you most satisfied in 5 years, 10, 30?

Time is the one resource you can never recover, so set up your time budget now. Begin to make decisions today that will lead to your greatest satisfaction now and in the future.

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