You know how at the beginning of the month or each pay check cycle, you budget how you're going to save and spend your money? The same principle works for budgeting time. Work, eating, grooming, and sleeping are nonnegotiable obligations that occur on a regular base—like rent, the phone bill, and a car payment. Similar to buying groceries, activities like exercise, socializing, laundry, errand running are all nonnegotiable obligations that fluctuate and change by week. On the other hand, the beautiful pair of shoes you splurged on is kind of like the last minute day trip you took — carved out of time and money saved. There's 168 hours a week. Making a time budget offers insight on how much time you waste now and ways to more efficiently use your 168 hours. Break down your daily commitments in to three groups: fixed obligations, flexible obligations and free time.
1. Fixed obligations
Figure out how much time you actually spend working. The honest truth, not just the forty hours you put in at the office. The after hour calls, looking at spreadsheets in bed and answering email are all time users. Write that down.
How much sleep do you get a night on average? How much sleep do you get during the weekends? Add that up and see how far you are from the 7-8 hour recommendation. What about your meals? Do you spend an hour on lunch every day? Do you pick up your food or spend time making it? It might change day by day, but estimate how much time you generally spend eating and preparing to eat. The same with showering, grooming, doing your make up and other personal care routines.
Time spent on exercising, commuting, Friday night friend dinners and even the hour you spend on the phone with your grandmother on Sundays, are fixed obligations if it appears regularly in your weekly schedule.
2. Flexible obligations
What do you do that takes up time but isn't set to a specific time slot? Grocery shopping, hanging out with friends, cleaning and the like are flexible obligations. Figure out how much time you need for each activity and compare with how much time you actually spend. Write it all down.
3. Free time
Add all of the time you allotted to spend on you flexible and fixed obligations. Subtract from 168 hours. If there's anything left over, that's your free time to do whatever your heart desires. Don't have any free time? That means you need to reassess how much time your spending across the board. Do you really need to work a 60-hour work week? Do you have to go out Thursday-Saturday?
Make an ideal time budget and compare it with your current lifestyle. Adjust your life in a way that makes sense and is best for you. After all, lost time can never be regained.