Don’t know how many of you budget your money, but as I was thinking about finding balance & managing time, I realized how many parallels there are between budgeting money & budgeting time & I noted some important lessons we can learn from these comparisons.
Just as budgeting & planning your money is key to finding financial freedom, so budgeting & planning our time is key to finding freedom & balance in our lives – and using time wisely is what makes us truly rich. Rich in fun, rich in relationships, and rich in enjoyment of all God has given us.
So whether or not you actually budget your money, I think we can all benefit from learning how to wisely budget our time. (and as a side note, if you don’t budget, you can probably also benefit from learning that, too.)
5 Keys to Budget Your Time Wisely:
- Spend your time on paper first.
The point of creating a financial budget is to plan ahead of time where you’re going to spend your money. You, in essence, spend it on paper before you actually spend it in real life. This keeps you from making (potentially foolish) impulse purchases. And it also frees you to enjoy what you do purchase without feeling guilty (because you know it was part of the plan & isn’t going to keep you from being able to pay the rent next month).The same principle is true with our time. Now we don’t need to literally plan every minute of it, but the goal is to PLAN instead of just letting it happen. What would happen if you started planning the big picture things like when you will work & when you will simply be present with your family? It’s a whole lot easier to walk away from your work when you know you’re following a plan than when you keep thinking “I just need to get done one more thing.”Side note: As you’re developing your plan, realize that there will always be something else to do, just like there will always be something else you’d like to buy. The point is that when you spend your time (or money) on paper, you have a clear head to look at all your priorities, not just what seems important in the moment.
- Plan for the unexpected.
When someone first learns to budget money, he might set up a plan based on his normal bills and spending habits. This works for a while, but when an unexpected car repair or medical bill shows up, the whole plan can be easily derailed. What an experienced budgeter knows is that it’s wise to plan for the unexpected – to set aside money each month for future car repairs, bills, or surprise expenses. That way, when the unexpected comes, it’s not as big of a deal.Now it’d be nice if we could save up extra time for when we need it, but it just doesn’t quite work that way. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan for the unexpected. When we’re scheduling our time, we should create margin – space – whenever possible. That way when things come up, it’s a little easier to find time to deal with them. If we have every minute jam-packed with activities, we’re basically planning to have problems.
- Roll with the punches.
Wise budgeters know that their plan is going to be derailed, so they don’t let it throw them off. Instead, they just roll with it. The electric bill was more than we thought? Okay, we’ll just pull that money from the clothing fund. Car repair cost more than we had saved up? Well, that’s why we have an emergency fund.
This same roll-with-the-punches attitude is just as essential when budgeting our time. We have to realize that things are going to come up & sometimes our built-in margin still isn’t enough to cover it. When that happens, don’t let it throw you completely off. Instead, pause and move around your plan (intentionally) to create a new one that will work.Note: Not rolling with the punches is a big reason people quit budgeting their money & it can also be a reason people give up on trying to schedule their time. Don’t let it throw you. Expect it, adjust, and move on.
- Get ahead.
Living paycheck to paycheck stinks. So does barely finishing each task the minute before it’s due. When you’re working on something that has to be done within the hour, you’re going to be stressed. But when you’re working on something for next week, not as much. So try to batch projects and work ahead whenever possible.
Now obviously this is easier said than done. But if you were trying to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle financially, you’d tighten up your budget & build in that extra reserve. The same thing is true with your time. If you want to plan ahead, you have to schedule time for that purpose. (And believe me, you’ll be glad you did.)
- Invest in what matters.
When we invest money, sometimes it seems like it’s not doing anything – it’s just gone from our account into a nebulous IRA that we’ll use in what seems like an eternity. But that investment is important, even if it’s not urgent.
The same is true with our time. We need to invest our time into what really matters, even if it’s not urgent at the time. That means connecting with students, spending time with family, and working to impact eternity.
Links from the Podcast: