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Soulful Sundays: Time Budget

Happy Spring Everyone,

Have you been busy? It feels like I have been quite busy recently. I've had new business endeavors, a baby to prepare for, and lots of other goals. I've been swamped! In a society that wears 'busy' like a badge of honor, it is difficult to keep perspective on how much we are actually working, and how much we are resting. Getting the rest we deserve starts with becoming better at managing the time we have. Note, it involves a little planning, so you'll need to grab a pen and paper.

First, take an inventory of how you've been spending your time in an average week. This may sound tedious, but take the total number of hours in a week (168) and subtract the number of hours you spend sleeping, bathing, cleaning, eating, and traveling. Now, subtract the number of hours you spend exercising, working, and shopping. Now, take out the number of hours you spend recreating, reading, and entertaining yourself. If you have a positive remainder that you cannot account for, you have underestimated your efficiency in the other categories. If you you have a negative remainder then you are probably feeling a little time-stressed.

After you have recorded your weekly hourly report as honestly as possible, the next step is to time budget. This is a good exercise even if you think you are in time balance. I like to do this on paper, but it works on a calendar program as well. What I want you to do is start with sleep, eating, and exercise as your top priorities. Put into the calendar your ideal number of hours spent doing these things. Include the time necessary to shop for and prepare good food. These get priority status because they are physiological anchors to you well-being. Next, prioritize any social, private, and/or mental health activities that you need. Add all of the previous categories up and subtract it from 168. If what you have left equals or is more than the amount of time that you work/do other chores, then you are in time-balance. If it is less, then we need to do some budgeting.

When budgeting, I like to use a concept called the Procrastination Funnel. It starts with first asking, "what can I eliminate?" These are activities that are not necessary, bring you no joy, and might just be something you do because you feel pressured to do so. An example of something I've eliminated recently is checking my email past 8pm. Those messages can always wait until the next day. The next question is, "what can I automate?" The classic example of this is to put all of your credit cards and other bills on auto-pay. Yes, I check on them monthly so that I can catch if something looks fishy, but I don't waste my time going through the payment process. The next question is "what can I delegate?" If you have excess money to spend on a house project, for example, and no time to do it, then you can turn money into time by hiring someone. Many of us are time-poor and money-rich because we are unwilling to spend money when we can. The last question is "what can I procrastinate?" You don't always have to solve all of life's problems right now, and in many cases procrastination can save certain projects for times when you have more knowledge and resources to handle them.

If, at the end of this funnel you could not eliminate, automate, delegate, or procrastinate, then that task is a priority and must be done. You can use this technique with work activities and play activities alike. The idea is to find what is truly essential and let the rest slide. But don't let your rest slide! Have an amazing week.

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