Thursday, July 14, 2011

Playing with Time: How to Create a Time Budget

Do you ever feel like there is this BIG thing you want to do, but you just never get around to doing it?  That's how I've been feeling lately, so this week I'm playing with a "time budget" for my ideal workday.

If I think of my time budget like a financial budget, I only have so much time I can "spend," and a lot of things I want to "buy," so I have to spend wisely.  Some of my time has to go to regular "expenses," some of my time is an "investment" that will pay off later, and some of it is just for fun.  Like any budget, I'll have to make adjustments as I go along. Unplanned time expenses will come up, as will time windfalls.

Here's how I created by time budget:

First, I divided my work into categories of how I want to spend my time during my perfect workday:
  • Gigs (working with and for others)
  • Creative time (product/service creation, big visioning)
  • Blog writing and podcast production
  • Social networking and marketing
  • Admin (email, billing, office organization)
  • Lunch
  • Exercise
I added lunch and exercise as categories because I know that if I take a proper lunch hour, and add exercise into my day I'll be happier, and more productive.

    Second, I made a guesstimate of how much time I would like/need to spend on each activity in a perfect day:
    • Gigs (working with and for others): 3 hours
    • Creative time (product/service creation, big visioning): 1 hour
    • Blog writing and podcast production: 1 hour
    • Social networking and marketing: 1 hour
    • Admin (email, billing, office organization): 1 hour
    • Lunch: 1 hour
    • Exercise: 30 minutes 

    Third, knowing that a workday would rarely breakdown so evenly, I calculated what my time budget would be for each category over a week:
    • Gigs (working with and for others): 15 hours
    • Creative time (product/service creation, big visioning): 5 hours
    • Blog writing and podcast production: 5 hours
    • Social networking and marketing: 5 hours
    • Admin (email, billing, office organization): 5 hours
    • Lunch: 5 hours
    • Exercise: 2.5 hours

    During the week, I've been keeping rough track of how much time I spend on each category to make sure I'm not over, or under-spending in any category. For example, I joined Google + on Monday and spent almost all of my social networking/marketing budget for the week in one day!

    What I've enjoyed the most about my time budget is that I no longer feel like I should be doing one thing when I'm doing something else.  I'm more present with each activity because I've established that it's important, and budgeted the time to do it.  I'm also learning how long things actually take and am adjusting my budget accordingly.

    How do you play with time?  How do you make time for what really matters?

    I'd love to feature your post about time management tips for nonprofits and nonprofit staffers in the July Nonprofit Blog Carnival. Check out my call for submissions for details.  The deadline to submit your post is July 26th. 

    Flickr photo Time Flies......* uploaded by Neal Fowler.

    Bookmark and Share



    1. great idea, thanks for sharing! will give this a try

    2. thanks will give this a try, thanks for sharing!

    3. This is such a neat idea! I saved this post to my favorites so I can come to it, the next time I even have the time to make a "time budget".

    4. I do something similar. As a grad student, I work backward to plan how much time I need for each major project, and divvy it up on a weekly then daily basis. Today, it's mostly a homework day. But, that means I'll be much less stressed at the end of the quarter.

    5. This is a great idea and really comes in handy for those who want to volunteer but often find themselves pressed for time. It kind of illustrates the reality that you'll have time for what you make time for. Thanks! keep posting!

    6. Hi Brenda & ZZ's Garden ~

      I'm glad you found the post helpful. Let me know how it goes trying out your time budgets.

      Susan ~ Thanks for sharing your process. Working backward is smart.


    If you are having trouble commenting, please let me know.