A few weeks ago I shared some ways that I was learning to manage my time better. Rather than prepare a schedule that I would inevitably fail, I created a time budget, alloting a certain amount of each day to the tasks I need to do in order to keep my life ship-shape.
But as you know, real life doesn’t run as orderly as a ship — ever.
Tweaking the budget
It goes without saying, that some of these things are getting tweaked as life happens and as new tasks raise their heads.
Take bill paying and tax preparation, for example. I hadn’t really considered either of those things while I working out my time budget. But after spending several hours this week on both, hubs and I decided that we need to address those tasks on a regular basis, instead of monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
I hate dealing with bills and taxes. And I need a quiet, preferably child-free zone to pull it off. But since the bills and taxes are certainly not going away, I need to meet them head on and not feel intimidated by them. So they are working their way into the time budget so that I don’t feel stressed or behind when I have to do them.
Creating weekly routines
We already have a few regular weekly activities that are in stone on the calendar.
- date night – my brother babysits while FishPapa and I go out for dinner and coffee
- cookbook night – hubs takes charge of the kids while I sequester myself in the office to work on The Cookbook
- pizza/family movie night – we make homemade pizza and watch a movie together
- grocery shopping – I take the Minions, age 6 and 8, with me to get groceries, usually taking about 2 hours
We enjoy doing other things on a regular basis, like outings (ie hikes or trips to the beach) as well as this afore-mentioned bill paying.
Striving for balance
The point of the time budget is to help me be realistic about what I can do. There are only 24 hours in the day. I don’t get extra. So, I have to think about how I spend the ones that I have. Just like in a financial budget, if I want to spend more on one thing, I need to spend less on another.
Since I want to allot for weekly events, like date night, it’s clear that I can’t strictly adhere to my time budget on those days. By creatively thinking through each day, I can move some time blocks around to fit a certain scenario, ie date night.
I’ve included 2 hours of “margin” as well as 3 hours of meal prep/eating time in my budget, so I can easily work around that by concentrating on my other tasks during the day and prepping quick and simple meals for breakfast and lunch. That frees up a good 4 hours to enjoy with my husband.
We don’t do school on the weekends, so that frees up a good 5 hours on Saturday and Sunday for outings, church, and other family activities. And truth be told, I don’t exercise every day, so that frees up another 30 minutes at least, 3 days a week.
I go grocery shopping about once a week, taking 2 hours. I’ve allotted 1 hour a day for coupon clipping, meal planning, and shopping. Obviously, on the day I go shopping, I’ll borrow the time from a different day to get the shopping done.
I do not have this all figured out — not by a long shot. I’m clearly a work in progress. But, you know me, worksheets help me process. I made a graph to think about how I spend my days during the week and to see if I really can do the great extra-curricular things I want to do. This is how a sample week might look:
Certainly, it’s not “in stone” since I don’t like schedules, but it gives you picture and charts people an idea of what I’m talking about. I’ve shuffled my time around a little, but each day still adds up to 24. If you’re a picture and chart person, here’s a blank time budget form for you to use.
Adjusting with the seasons
Looking over the last few months, I see that we were in a season of hubs working extreme overtime and so that dictated how I spent my time. In a few months, that may not be the case, and our routines may change.
That’s the beauty of a budget — whether it’s money or time — you’re free to adjust it all you want. As long as you don’t go over your resources at hand. As seasons of life change, so will your priorities and how you spend your time.
Just because I could do something, doesn’t mean I should. I have to protect my time from all of my good ideas.
If the homemade sprinkles fit into the plan (maybe as an activity for quality time with someone), then great. Otherwise I’ll just enjoy looking at the photos while I’m on a break before I close the computer and return to my day.
24 hours. That’s all you got. You simply cannot do everything. Think about the hours at your disposal.
How will you spend them?
How do you balance your time? How do you fit in good things? How do you determine when to say, “No?” See ya in the comments.