Time Management – How to Create a Time Budget

Time Management ClockDo you find yourself wondering where the time went each day? Most of us wish we had more time but there are only 24 hours in a day. With good time management practices, most likely the time we need is there (along with leisure, sleep, and family time!) but we’re just not using it as productively as we should be.

Time, just like money, needs to be budgeted. When we budget our time well, we know exactly where it’s going and we can control it. Luckily, time budgeting is easier than planning finances. Here’s how…

Time Management – Budgeting the Day

Start by deciding how much time you need to spend on each task per day. Make a rough estimate of how long it will take… and always add a little extra. Things far too often take longer than we realize and that extra bit of time gives us a cushion. If we end up not needing the extra, it’s a bonus and we’ll feel like we’re getting things done more quickly.

Next, prioritize these tasks. Ask yourself, ‘If I only manage to accomplish 3 things today, what should they be?’ Of course, we’re hopefully going to get much more than that done, but prioritizing helps us to get the most important things done first.

Use a timer to time each task. When we use a timer, we don’t have to watch the clock. Just set the time and let it tell us when the time is up. The timer also helps us psychologically because while it’s running, we feel like we need to be on task. Time logging programs, either on your computer or online, can help you see how things are going.

Time Management – Budgeting Days and Weeks

We can apply the same method above to budget our weekly and monthly schedule as well. This is a little bit trickier and requires a bit more flexibility. The reason is that it’s harder to tell how long something is going to take when we’re dealing in days or weeks rather than hours.

One easy way is to start by establishing a deadline. When does the particular task need to be finished? Bump it forward one day to give yourself a little leeway for unforeseen situations. If something unexpected happens and we run a day late, we’re still OK.

Between today and the deadline, how many days do we have? Only include actual workdays. Divide the task into the number of days, then set small achievable goals for each day.

Time Management – Monitor the Budget and Stay Flexible

Our time budgeting will usually be fairly sloppy at first. But we can improve our accuracy by monitoring our progress with a time log where we record the time we actually spend on tasks. This seems like extra work we just don’t need when we’re trying to be more efficient. But this realistic picture of how we spend our time gives us a more realistic picture of our schedule that allows us to more accurately plan future projects. (A side benefit is, as your business grows and you can start outsourcing some of your tasks, you’ll know how long your hired helper should take, and you can properly evaluate how well they are doing.)

Remember: keep yourself flexible. Stay as close as you can to your budget but don’t hesitate to make adjustments where necessary. If you find that a certain task takes much longer than we realized, adjust the schedule and budget more time for it. And then, always be on the lookout for new ideas on how to make your time management more efficient as well.


One Response to “Time Management – How to Create a Time Budget”

  1. […] I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, you start each day with the tasks you scheduled the night before. You decided how much time […]

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