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  • Writer's pictureBrianna Wall

Time Budgeting, Part I

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

How to give your highest priorities the time and energy they deserve

Do you struggle with accomplishing all the tasks on your to-do lists? You might have your job’s to-do list, your home’s to-do list and, if you’re a parent, your kids’ to-do lists. Until you get them under control, you might feel overwhelmed and restless, wishing there were more hours in a day. But even if there were more hours in a day, would you accomplish your to-do lists? Or simply add to them? It’s only when you find a system that works for you – one that not only helps you check off those tasks, but creates time for you to relax and recharge – that you finally feel like you’re achieving something rather than running a rat race.

I call it Time Budgeting and I liken it to financial budgeting. If you budget your money regularly, you can relate to this practice because it’s essentially the same, but with your time. Just like with your financial budget, you establish your priorities and align your time accordingly. Also similar to a financial budget, we might find ourselves low on reserves if we’re not careful.

Establishing Priorities

The first step in budgeting anything is establishing priorities. You’ve probably heard the saying “Show me where you spend your money and I’ll show you what your priorities are,” or something similar. The same is true with your time. Perhaps the real problem isn’t finding more time in our day, but facing what our time spent says about our priorities.

If you were to conduct an audit of your time, what would it find? Would you be proud of the results? Or would it identify that you spend hours scrolling social media rather than engaging in meaningful conversations or making some sort of a positive impact? Whatever it shows, be ready to face it and commit to changing if you don’t like what you see.

If you read my Welcome blog post, you’ll know that after work and most weekends I try my best to avoid planning any obligations. That time is set aside only for my people — the ones I have promised to love and nurture. No matter what we do, the purpose of this time is to be present — whether that time happens in the morning, mid-day, evenings or only on weekends. If I have a thought that pops into my mind regarding work or something else, I’ll use Siri to remind me at a specific time what it is I need to remember, or type a note on my phone for later. This time has and will continue to evolve as Bryson becomes interested in more sports and activities but, for now, it’s for us.

This didn’t happen by accident. It takes careful consideration, strategic planning and kindly saying No.

Each December, I dedicate an entire day to setting goals and intentionally planning my time and priorities for the following year (as well as some pampering). It’s a whole process that I will share with you later this year.

Through this process, I discovered there were too many priorities I was ignoring, and the only way to include them in my day was by waking up earlier — I voluntarily wake up in the 5:00 hour every weekday. Maybe you’re the same way. I used to hate waking up before 7:30 or 8 a.m., but if things like your health and relationships are important enough to you, you will likely be required to sacrifice something to make time for them. That’s exactly what I had to do.

I encourage you to list your top three or four priorities in life. Some of mine are family, relationships, my health, quality sleep and sharing my God-given abilities. As such, I make time for them. What are you making time for? On the other hand, what are you allowing to zap all of your time and energy?

Remember, “I don’t have time” ultimately means “I’m not willing to make that a priority.”

Busyness does not equal productivity.

One more thing to consider. Some people love a full calendar. They don’t feel fulfilled unless they’re going from one meeting to the next, to a fundraiser, to a networking event, to a banquet and so on. These are all great causes, but at the end of the day, we have to be able to look at not only our jobs but our families and ask ourselves “Are the most important things getting accomplished? Am I staying ahead of deadlines? Am I giving myself enough time to perhaps cook a meal to eat with my family? Do I have time to read the book that’s been on my nightstand for three years?” If a crammed calendar aligns with your highest priorities, then great! To each her own, sincerely. But if it doesn't, I invite you to continue reading my next blog post to see how I fill the gaps in my day with the things that truly fill me.

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