I don’t know about you, but when I was in my early twenties, I thought I could stretch time and make a lot of things happen. For some reason back then, time seemed to contain more hours and the days were longer. 🙂 So, I tried to get some things done in the evening after work, go to sleep late and still wake up early – in order to fit all my important activities into the day: time at the gym, time with my family, self-education, etc. It worked for awhile, but since my body didn’t get enough rest for several days, I was exhausted by the end of the week and not able to accomplish all I had planned. And still there was that feeling that the time was wasted, not spent wisely.
A good friend of mine has explained several principles to me over the years that have helped me to understand how to be effective and have normal days, and at the same time know that the important and meaningful things are taken care of. I’ve witnesses the same principles working for many other people as well.
Here are three of these principles.
To manage my time effectively, I must:
- Understand the budgeting process
- Know my rhythms of natural effectiveness
- Have good criteria to determine how to spend my time
Let’s look closely at the first principle now – Understanding the budgeting process.
Time is like money
Time is like money – it needs to be planned, because its amount is always limited, while opportunities to spend are essentially unlimited. Even if you had all the money Bill Gates has, there are still things you might wish you could buy: countries, planets :). There will always be more opportunities for spending than we can afford. Therefore we need to have clear priorities to determine what to spend it on. One of the ways we set those priorities is to use a budget.
Obligatory vs optional expenses
As you know, a budget is “a document used to project future income and expenses”. Expenses are divided into two groups: obligatory expenses (must pay for) and optional expenses (wish to have). At the simplest level, the budgeting process looks like this:
For example, if I don’t pay for my apartment or food on time (obligatory expenses), but instead buy a new iPhone which I can’t really afford this month, I can expect to experience problems in both the short-term and long-term. Every decision has long-term and short-term consideration, so we need to learn to delay immediate gratification (short-term) in order to enjoy more good things in the future (long-term).
“If you buy things you don’t need, soon you will have to sell things you need.”- Warren Buffet
Also remember – a budget or any plan is a tool for you to be effective, don’t allow it to control you. Maintain good level of self-discipline to hold on to the plan, but at the same time be flexible enough to allow changes life brings and adjust your plan accordingly. Avoid 2 extremes:
- if budget / plan is too flexible – the purpose of it is lost
- if budget / plan us too strict – you might lose your friends and experience depression or burnout
“Budget” your time
The same principles apply with regard to time, except that with time, we cannot earn more or save it. So the total “income” is always 24 hours in a day, and “expenses” are what we will spend it on. Therefore, the first thing we need to do is to “budget” the most important and obligatory things and only then can we use what is left for other things, the less important things.
What are YOUR obligatory and optional “expenses” with regard to time?
Here are some good criteria that can help determine what “expenses” are obligatory and which ones are optional as we “budget” our time.
Have a great day!
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