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5 Tips for Budgeting Time

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Last week I challenged you to remember that "no" is a possible choice to make when you receive a meeting or other event request. I even added a challenge for you to cancel any appointment that wasn't urgent, i.e. that doesn't move your most important project or mission forward in a big way, that will probably consist of things you've heard or said before or that doesn't make you money or offer some other sort of tangible reward.

I'm curious if anyone took the challenge and what became of it?

As with anything I share with coaching clients I do the same exercise as they do so that we're living the same issue and to keep me from being a "do as I say, not as I do" coach. That meant that I had to say "no" to a Tuesday night meeting that sounded really interesting but I did have two late appointments, a Wednesday night team building facilitation, and a Thursday speaking event that kept me out late and made for a long week.

I'd put the challenge out there and found myself very, very busy; but despite that I managed to enjoy a profitable, satisfying week. What I did was to manage the time I had as I would budget my spending. I made sure that I didn't overdo my "time spending" in any one area and that I "saved" as much as I spent, making sure not to go into deficit.

Here are a few tips to help you plan your own time budget:
  1. Time is the real profit. Time and money share so many metaphors "spend, save, lose, waste, invest," etc. that it's easy to keep in mind that time is the real profit, not money. Budget the way you spend time just this week, keeping in mind the big '7' (read New Year's Resolutions and Time) : rest and recharge, spiritual, planning and strategy, futuring, health, education, task driven. Having a balance of these 7 types of times assures you of a sense of well being and accomplishment. A life that's 90 percent task time and no time for rest and recharge, for example, will lead to burnout.
  2. Qualities of time count. It's not just what you're doing; it's how you're doing what you're doing when you're doing it. Do a quick mental inventory of the last few days to see how often you registered joy, satisfaction, awe, love, pleasure, inspiration, fear or excitement. If you're spending your time without any of these qualities then it's time to "amp up the volume" of the moments in your life. Really, when was the last time you had a good laugh?
  3. Cast of Characters. Are you spending time with people you love and people you like? Quite often we spend so much time with the same people that we almost know what they're going to say before they say it. Are you making an effort to stay in contact with people you are inspired and motivated by, with people you really enjoy? Make sure you're hearing a variety of voices and maintaining the relationships that are important to you.
  4. Get outside of time. Can you remember the last time you completely lost track of time because you were so engrossed in what you were doing or when time seemed to literally just slow down? What are the activities that produce this state of "timelessness" for you? Can you put them into your upcoming calendar more often? If not once a week, how about every other week, or at least once a month?
  5. TAKE or STEAL time. Monday I broke the rules and did something my parents never did for me and that I thought my wife would object to. I played "hooky" with my soon to be thirteen-year old daughter. We both took the day off, her from school and me from appointments, and I took her to a few city neighborhoods where the trendier shops were, the places I used to hang out before I became the tragically un-cool dad she sees me as. We walked and talked, laughed and spent time as friends and neither of us checked our emails, texts or voicemail for the whole day. This was "golden" time as she repeatedly said what a great time she was having and, if you've ever had a pre-teen, you'll understand the need for investing in the relationship.

These 5 tips can help you make the most of every week and assure that you're spending your most precious commodity according to a plan, a budget that will have your accounts "balance." If you're ever in doubt, though, there's one more consideration I use myself to help me keep my time in perspective.

I ask myself, "If this was the last year of my life, what would I do today?" Admittedly it's a little dramatic and you need to achieve a balance and remain practical. I realize that not everyone can just take a day off whenever they want to but this consideration helps remind me that none of us really knows how much time we have left so I spend and save accordingly.

I look forward to hearing from you, about your time and the quality and value you create with it.

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