I loudly and frequently tout the advantages of having a budget. It’s easy to see the benefits of tracking and setting limits to your spending with the aim of having a happier and less stressful financial life. But what happens when you apply that same exercise to your time? Time is ultimately the most valuable thing we have, yet it’s rare for us to track our time outside of a work or professional context. However, I think we should start looking at our time more critically and treat it in the same intentional way we treat our money.
Luckily, most of us have the first step toward making a time budget already; having a schedule. Every computer or smart phone out there has a calendar feature built into it making it easy to block out dates and times for important events and meetings. The way to improve from here is to put much more mundane and routine items onto your schedule. That way you get a fuller picture of where you to spend your time, not just doctors’ appointments, birthdays, and vacations, but also grocery shopping, walking the dog, and watching TV.
But I doubt many people take the second and more critical step of then reviewing how closely they followed their schedule. And beyond that, considering how they felt spending their time as they did. Only by evaluating how we truly spent our time and thinking about its impact on ourselves can we really start to improve our wellbeing. If you’re spending lots of time on something that brings you neither joy nor benefit, you can now make an intentional decision to change what you’re doing to bring more fulfilling uses of your time into your life.
I understand this isn’t a panacea. Simply scheduling and tracking your activities won’t suddenly cure all life’s ills, nor will it remove boring but essential tasks like washing dishes or folding laundry. But I do think it can change our relationship with our time and maybe help us push back against the societal pressure to always be doing more with our time and instead focus on a higher quality of life.
If you’d like to talk more about how you spend your time and what you do to spend it better, contact us! And in the meantime, look back at your week and see how you really spent your time. Is there anything you want to change for next week?