Creating A Time Budget

Time Flies!You can tell your friends that you aren’t doing as well as you could with your business because you don’t have as much money as your competitor.  That may be true.

You can convince yourself that the reason you’re not the best in your industry is because you don’t have as many employees as the other guys. That may be true also.

You can even try to explain to those around you that if you had gone to this school or that, or if you had only acted upon your gut way back when, you would be ahead of the game right now. Again, this might be accurate.

The one thing you cannot hide behind, however, is lack of hours in the day.  You are given the same as everybody else.  In this area, nobody can out pace you or buy more than you, we all work with the same 24 hour clock.  It’s what you do with that time that is important.  I’m telling you this because it’s something I have to remind myself of almost every single day…I am bombarded by emails, phone calls, content calendars, sweepstakes rules, legal department hurdles, Facebook advertising optimization and a hundred other things every day.  When you add to it the fact that I actually like spending time with my family at home (yes, all four kids), I realize that it would be very easy each and every day to complain that I don’t have enough time.

That’s a ridiculous complaint, however.  I do have enough time, I have just as much as you do, and my competitors have just as much as all of us.  Instead of praying for a 28 hour day, it’s time to accept the fact that we all need to work with 24 hours; so more isn’t the answers, but efficiency and prioritization are.  It may be time for you to make a  “time budget”.

Most people that are successful with money have a financial budget.  Usually this is figured out by looking at your total income and then subtracting expenses, starting with what is most important and cannot be done without (e.g. your mortgage, rent, food, utility bills) then working down to “nice to have” (e.g. clothing expenses) then finishing with “if there is enough left over” (e.g. video games, dining out).  Hopefully somewhere in there is a saving account, but as that doesn’t apply to time budgeting (I wish), I’m not including that.

The same rules apply to creating a time budget.  Start off with your “must have” items, following by your “nice to have” followed by your “I wish” list.  The thing with this is…what is important to you will not necessarily be important to other people, so you need to know what works for your situation.  For example, my time budget Monday-Friday looks something like this:

Must Have

  • 10 hrs work
  • 1.5 hrs eating (I eat many meals on the go, like breakfast and lunch but I try to have dinner with my family)
  • 6 hrs sleep (this varies, but 6 hours is my minimum to be able to work effectively each day)

Nice to Have

  • 1.5 hrs exercise
  • 3 hrs family time (reading, watching TV, playing games, talking…anything that is NOT work and is WITH family)
  • 2 hours variable (this changes…might be extra sleep, more down time or personal activities, might be more work)

I wish

  • 1 extra hour of exercise
  • 1 extra hour of family time
  • 1 extra hour of sleep

See how quickly the time fills up? Of course, this is just my Monday through Friday routine, Saturday and Sunday I try to only do 1 or 2 hours of work, usually early in the morning before everybody in the house is awake.  For the most part, as tempting as it is to play catch-up on weekends, I really try to focus on family time or just down (non-work) time so I can come back on Monday refreshed.  Have you ever thought about a time budget, or are you just going through each week and taking things as they come? If you’ve never stopped to consider time priorities, I want to encourage you to do so now.  Start by keeping track of how you are currently spending your time, then after a couple of weeks of tracking, establish a realistic “budget” of how you want to spend your time.  If there is a big difference between what you are doing now and what you want to be doing…take the time to seriously consider how to bridge the gap.

It’s really a matter of priorities; we all have 24 hours in the day, how are you going to choose to spend yours? How is your competition spending theirs? Stop making excuses and make the changes you know you need to, it’s never too late to start getting ahead.

“Time Flies” used under Creative Commons, thanks to rubyblossom!
By Matt Singley

Personal: husband to Alison, father to four amazing kids. I used to live a fast but enjoyable life in Los Angeles, now I have chickens on acreage in Charlotte, North Carolina. Just a bit different. I'm an advocate for cycling as much as you can and eating as cleanly as you can afford. Professional: I'm the CEO of Singley + Mackie, a creative digital agency that serves well-known lifestyle and entertainment companies around the world. Clients include Microsoft, Samsung, Hulu, YP and others. If you want to find the more-professional me, go to