Making The Case For Budgeting Your Time Like Your Finances

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If you have found yourself overextended when it comes to your schedule, you are not alone. As we get older and more responsibilities fall in our lap, it's common for our schedules to fill up, with little time left for ourselves. This trend towards being overextended is tricky, as it sneaks up on you over time. Before you know it, you are completely burnt out. At that point you may take a step back only to realize that you are stretched too thin, working for other people, and getting less done for yourself. Don't feel bad if this sounds familiar, the fix may be easier than you think.


As reported by Apartment Therapy, budgeting your time simply involves doing an overhaul of your schedule so that you have an allotted time for each task. You essentially create a "budget" for your time, similar to creating a budget for your finances. In doing this, you are getting more done in less time so that you are free to be creative, enjoy your downtime, and live a life for yourself.

A closer look at budgeting your time

Once you realize that your schedule has been completely hijacked by millions of tasks and responsibilities, it's time to do an overhaul. Try creating blocks in your schedule instead of a long to-do list. While a to-do list is great, it can get overwhelming and chaotic. Many times when you create a list of things you need to get done, there is no set time allotted to complete each task. You may find yourself frequently switching tasks, without any guidance — which can impact your focus. In doing this, you are setting yourself up for failure from the start.


Have you ever noticed that your day seems to completely slip by when you are running around trying to cross off items on your list? By budgeting your time in blocks, you can focus all your energy on finishing one task before you move on to the next. In the end, this will actually free up extra time that you can devote to the things that matter most to you, such as family, friends, resting, and being creative.

Optimizing your time blocks

The first step in budgeting your time is to create categories for your time blocks. Some obvious categories that should be on the schedule include work, sleep, appointments, and any sports or school functions your kids may have to attend. Once you have the categories scheduled that have a fixed time, you can fill in the more flexible tasks in their own time blocks. These blocks may include checking emails, doing household chores, meal prepping, exercising, and paying bills. So, a typical week will have set blocks for "fixed responsibilities." and blocks of "flex tasks" that can be placed on days and times that are convenient. 


Some people prefer to take a different approach when it comes to time blocks. If you don't want to make it so strict, try arranging your day into just a few blocks based on the time of day. An example of this would look like a morning block from seven to noon for work, a two-hour afternoon block for household management such as cleaning and paying bills, another two-hour block for wellness activities like exercise and meal prepping, and then an evening block for family time. The possibilities are endless when you use this approach, and they can always be tailored to your schedule.

Make rest days a priority

Once you have done the work to budget your time, be sure to block out time, even full days, devoted to rest. It's super important to set aside days that are just for rest and recovery. While embracing doing nothing isn't always easy, it is necessary for the long run. It helps to put it in perspective and look at your monthly calendar once you have blocked out your time. If you have a free day each week where you don't have a time block that has to be completed, utilize that for doing nothing but what makes you happy.


However, if you have a hard time taking these rest days, you can always get creative when you are budgeting your time. Maybe you have "work days" Monday through Thursday, spend Friday as a "household day" where you get caught up with domestic chores, and then divide your weekend up into wellness activities, rest, and creative pursuits. Make weekly themes when you are budgeting your time, including rest. This approach is a much more relaxed way of budgeting your time, but still works for creative pockets of free time.

A note about Essentialism

In looking at the bigger picture, it all comes down to changing your habits for a better way of living. The trick to budgeting your time is learning how to navigate your schedule in a distracting world so that you can focus on things that are important to you. In the book, "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less," author Greg McKeown says that it isn't about getting less done, but rather only getting the right things done. He recommends a few tips to help get the right things done in less time.


Budgeting your time like an Essentialist may look like learning to say "no" to invitations that are in fact draining to your energy. Learning to politely decline invitations or frivolous obligations can help to avoid unneeded stress and overwhelm. It may also look like focusing on one or two priorities, not a bunch of random responsibilities that you are not really interested in. Figure out what matters most to you (such as family, friends, or work), and cut out the rest.

Lastly, it's really easy to lose control of your day. McKeown suggests not letting others have permission to choose where our time and energy go. In the end, as you navigate the best ways to budget your time, you will find that your weeks will start to fill up with more of what matters most to you.