How to Create a Time Budget

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A time budget helps you spend your minutes before they simply fly out the window. It readjusts how you spend your days, helping you to meet goals and be your best.

How to Make a Time Budget | Life as Mom

I’m going to be using a time budget to meet my goals this year. But first the back story.

Here we are halfway through January and things are starting to calm down. We aren’t going to hear so much about goal setting stuff because February is on its way. And folks give up in February, right?

But, I’m not giving up in February, because I got a slow start. I feel like I’ve been sleeping through these first couple weeks of the year and have not gotten up to speed. At least not the speed at which anything significant can be accomplished.

Except sleep. I’m getting good at sleep. Over the last week or so, a few light bulbs have gone off, shaking me awake.

So, now that I’m waking from my long winter nap, I’m thinking about how I want to get my act together in a healthy, happy way. In years past, I’ve done it by just pushing through, despite how bad or how tired I might feel. This year, I want to do it in a different way. I want to get rah-rah and achieve my goals, but I want to do it in a healthy way.

I’ve been brewing these ideas for a few weeks, and am finally getting to a place where I’m ready to get moving. Here are some questions that I’ve been sitting with and thinking about:

Am I too busy?

Folks often say that your busy-ness is your own fault. If you’re too busy, you need to streamline and say no to more things. The thing is that I don’t do a lot of outside things. I am not writing a cookbook. I don’t have any big projects going. But, I do have a full life with work, six kids, a home, and homeschooling.

What’s on my plate is what’s on my plate. I’m not going to eliminate these very key, important elements in my life.

Conclusion: Since I don’t have extra things to cross off my list, I simply need to do better with the time I have.

This would be light bulb #1.

How to Make a Time Budget | Life as Mom

Though I’ve been sleeping, or so it seems, I’ve still been dreaming. Dreaming big, my friends! I’ve got dreams and goals for the year.

What are your goals?

We’ve all heard about all kinds of ways to set goals — and I walked into the new year with my hot little goals list in hand, however, one method that helps me tremendously is one that I teach in my workshops.

It’s the idea of the focus goal.

Basically, a focus goal is that thing that once achieved, would make all (or most) of the other goals on your list possible or easier. It’s not necessarily the most important, but it’s that lead domino that can enable the others to fall.

What’s your focus goal?

Look at my top ten goals for the first 90 days of the year:

  1. Get FishChick7 reading independently.
  2. Get school back on track.
  3. Have set work/school hours
  4. Update finances, savings, etc.
  5. Prepare for taxes, FAFSA, etc.
  6. Dejunk again.
  7. Exercise daily.
  8. Have special time with my husband daily.
  9. Take coffee walks with the kids.
  10. Have a weekly rest day.

Well, duh. What’s #11? What’s that one thing that could help me make these ten things happen?

Getting a time budget going!

Setting a new time budget is my focus goal, that one goal that I’m starting with to bring the other ten to fruition.

How to Make a Time Budget | Life as Mom

A Time Budget

A Time Budget will help me achieve these things. That one step of allocating my time properly will help me fit in exercise, time with my family, bookkeeping, tax prep, reading practice, work, school, and probably even more!

I have bucked schedules for more than 20 years, but the seasons when I have been the most productive and calmest, despite the chaos around me — those seasons have been characterized by having a time budget and a schedule. I know that a scheduled time budget will work!

The key, I’ve discovered, to have a schedule that doesn’t feel jerky and strict is to make sure that there is enough margin, enough family time, enough rest, enough exercise, enough good things as well as those things that just need to get done.

In the old days I crammed as much into my time budget as I could. Now I know that a schedule can be my friend, particularly when there are fun things on the schedule!

Are you in the same place as me? Do you need to add a little more structure to your days and weeks?

Then here’s how YOU can make a Time Budget.

1. Write down all your responsibilities and to-do’s, big and small, fun and not fun.

2. Estimate how long each of these things per day or week.

3. Do some math. You’ve got 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in the week. This worksheet can help you do it.

4. The numbers need to jive. Pare down, delegate, undecide to do that thing.

5. Block out the time frames on a weekly grid. Like this one.

6. Walk this schedule through its paces. Tweak as needed.

While I’ll still be working on my other ten goals this quarter, I think that this time management one is the hinge point, the one thing that will help me make/find/create the time to accomplish those other things.

I know it won’t happen overnight, but I know from experience that it will happen, and I’m so excited to get it going!

How do YOU time budget?

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  1. Great article. I need to follow your advice as I truly see 2016 as a chance to renew and cut old habits. Question, the organizer you show in the picture above (it has 2016 at the top in the far right corner and on the left the wording is Goals for the year). I’m interested in buying that book. Can you give the details on that book and where I might be able to buy it? My email address is: [email protected]

  2. I’ve done a time audit (several years back) that helped me see where some of my time is going. In general, I like a more flexible schedule. When I have a lot to get done, I find it helpful to use time block scheduling. Instead of a to-do list, I will map out my day in 30 minute segments. This helps keep me focused. I don’t feel like I have to do every single thing exactly when listed, but it does help me stay focused and not procrastinate. If I feel like putting something off, I can look at my day, and see if it will fit in later- usually not. That’s the push I need to keep from procrastinating. 🙂

    It also helps me be realistic about what I am going to be able to accomplish. Only so much will fit into one day, and I will get stressed if I’m trying to cram too much in. I need some time to sleep, relax, exercise, and things like that.

  3. Over the summer, I had a list of goals, and I wasn’t getting them done, until I budgeted my time. I wrote down what time of day I would do what, and I was able to get it done.

  4. I love this post!! I too have taken to planning, budgeting my time in a big way, this year. I certainly hope it will make a big difference in achieving my goals.

  5. Hi, Jessica! Thanks for this idea. I am going to work on this. I am a long time reader of your blog but love to watch your Periscopes on Katch. Very inspiring and helpful! I still love, love the blog too though. Like you, I have several children and no outside commitments. Homeschool, the house, cooking, appointments/activities for the kids, and my family keep me more than busy! I tweaked our school schedule this semester as I realized my goals for what we should accomplish each day were too high. The new schedule is working for us-this will be our second week. I think this time budget will fit in nicely with our new goals. I also agree that a good night’s sleep is important. I exercise and am very active during the day but, at a certain time each night, I crash and need sleep. We moms have a lot to juggle, don’t we?

  6. My problem is that I haven’t been sleeping enough! My 8 month old does.not.sleep! It makes it so difficult to use time when the kids are sleeping to do anything other than sleep myself. Thanks for the reminder to stay on top of goals!

  7. Sounds, good, Jessica! I’ve been sleeping, too, and it’s been good. 🙂

    My goal for 2016 is to catch up. Without going through your lightbulb moments, I’ve discovered that the push goal for that is simply not to put anything new on my plate. So far, so good, and it’s making a huge difference.

    God bless you as you reach for your goals!

  8. I love all the stuff you’ve been putting out lately! It’s all the little pep talks I’ve been needing. Thanks for being that encouraging voice in the back of my head and for the practical ideas on how to get stuff done without losing my mind. You are a gem.