24 Hours Not Enough? Learn to Manage Time Like Money

To be fair, most of us have felt at one time or another as if we simply don’t have enough money. When that happens, we either look for an additional stream of income, or we refine our budget and try to work within it. Time is similar. However, because we can’t simply make more time, the latter approach is the default. What does it mean to learn to manage time as if it’s money?

Viewing Time As a Budget

We’re all working with the same 24 hours. That part of the equation is set. Where everyone begins to differ is the very diverse ways in which we use our 24 hours. Think of your 24 hours as an allowance you receive each day. You literally can do whatever you please with your 24 hours. But for most of us, it’s not that simple, right? We decide we want housing, clothes, food, financial savings, entertainment. All those things cost. They cost money and time [unless you literally have someone handing these things to you…in which case, please come over here and advertise YOUR coaching services]. Anyhow…these things cost what I’ve come to refer to as time dollars. In planning your schedule–because you should be planning your schedule–start with 24 hours, and subtract from that each time you schedule an activity. For example, your 8-hour workday costs 8 time dollars, leaving you with 16 remaining.

But actually…it’s inaccurate to begin by subtracting from 24…unless you count sleep!

Begin By Planning Time to Sleep

Sleep is so important that I always recommend starting schedule planning by setting a bedtime, deciding how long you want to ideally sleep, and scheduling a wake-up time accordingly. We underestimate the importance of sleep. While you may think you need time to go to the library, pick up your dry cleaning, and attend the birthday party you were invited to, your body places a much greater priority on repairing cells and tissues, encoding learned information into your memory, and restoring your energy. These very important activities are just a few that happen while you’re sleeping.

After Designating Sleep Hours

Let’s say you plan to get seven hours of sleep each night. After subtracting seven from your 24-hour time budget, you are left with 17 hours of time that can be allocated to work, fun, leisure, and everything in between. If you ever find yourself feeling tempted to waste time or engage in an activity that does not serve your well-being or contribute to the well-being of others in a manner you can afford, actively remind yourself of the remaining hours in your time budget. Then asks if it is worth allocating time to participate in the activity.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you are a person who struggles with decision-making and prioritizing tasks, you may struggle at first with deciding which activities are deserving of your time. Don’t be discouraged. Simply do your best to make a decision. Evaluate the outcome of that decision. Then carry that analysis with you as you keep moving forward in approaching each day as if you are on a strict time budget. Eventually, you will become better at ranking tasks according to importance, balancing social commitments, and becoming a better decision-maker and steward of your time.

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Organizing Your Life 101: Getting Organized for a Good Night’s Sleep

There is a subset of people who describe themselves as “very disorganized” and generally feel the need to start completely from scratch when attempting to bring order to their lives. For individuals who relate to this sentiment, I recommend the idea of gradually creating structure. The key is to do so in a manner that does not feel “confining.” Keeping track of the changes you are implementing and recording their effects will help you determine if your new system is truly beneficial and whether further adjustments are required.

The Importance of the Wake-Up

For many people, a critical point of origin on their road to getting organized may be simply defining a set time to wake up each morning. Waking up at the same time has a way of defining and setting the tone for most other activities that take place throughout the day. On the first few mornings of adhering to a new establishing a wake-up time, a person who regularly stays up too late will likely notice the negative effects of not getting enough sleep. The wake-up time can be adjusted, but the person will eventually realize that waking up later may result in limited time to do other things. Therefore, setting a static wake-up time is the also the first step to learning effective time management.

Setting a Bedtime

Once a person finds a wake-up time that allows for completing all planned activities while still feeling rested, the next natural step is to set a nightly bedtime. This is the time at which all daily activities have been completed in addition to a bedtime routine (i.e. showering, changing clothes, and perhaps even having a few moments of quiet time to mentally and emotionally shift gears to prepare for sleep). Like setting a wake-up time, choosing the best time to go to bed may also require trial and error. However, if you are recording the effects your new wake-up time is having on your energy level, it will likely be more apparent when you generally feel the need to sleep.

Creating a Foundation for Better Time Management

For many, establishing the right nightly time frame for sleep can be a giant leap toward organizing the hours during which they are awake. Planning and getting into the routine of an established wake-up and bedtime will help set the tone for a good night’s sleep. However, if health factors make sleeping more difficult, seeking and following the advice of a medical practitioner is advisable. The next post in the OrganizeU series will focus on developing better time management during the daytime and evening hours for improved energy and optimal productivity.