Is Your Time Budget Overdrawn?

Go big or go home

My daughter’s Instagram account a few months ago, had a caption "Go big or go home." Under the caption was a picture of my daughter being carted off the mountain by the ski patrol after a nasty fall. Her bindings didn't release.

She went big and went home…where she had knee surgery during Spring Break. The day before returning to school, we all realized she needed assistance.

I quickly booked a flight to Denver for the week to help get her situated.  

I opened my calendar and began cancelling/rearranging appointments. There were client meetings, date night, social events, an industry dinner, networking events, Cubs tickets, a birthday dinner and taking care of my neighbor’s cat (don’t worry Stephen took care of this).

Wow, was it a busy week! Maybe it was a tough week to miss, so I looked at the week before and the week after. I was booked solid those weeks too. 

It had been a while since I took a long look at my calendar. I quickly realized that My Time Budget was overdrawn.  

As noted in my other blogs, I feel strongly about budgeting finances. The same concept should apply to time. Time is a valuable currency. And unfortunately you can’t buy more time, so you should allocate your time wisely.


The budget process

To start budgeting time, you must understand the numbers. Calculate your “Time Revenue” and your “Time Expenses.” 

Time Revenue: 168 Hours in a week

Less Time Expenses:

Fixed Time Expenses: These expenses consist of sleep (sleeping at 8 hours a night is 56 hours if you are lucky!), family commitments, work, charity work, etc. Any activity to which you are committed is a fixed expense.

Variable Time Expenses:Everything else is variable time expenses.  

Your fixed time expenses can easily exceed 100 hours, leaving less than 68 hours of Variable Time Expenses.


Balance your time budget – avoid the impulse to say yes

Every day we are asked for our time."Can you do me a favor?" "We would love to have you on our charity board." "Can you attend this social event?”

Avoid the impulse to automatically say yes. Think hard about the consequences of saying “yes,” especially for what it might mean down the road. What will you be saying “no” to as a result?

Before saying yes, ask yourself the following questions:

Keep in mind there are only so many hours in a day.  How many discretionary hours do you have? Each hour is important. If asked for an explanation, you can simply say, “Thank you so much for the offer, but it doesn’t fit with my schedule.”

Reduce some of your "fixed time expenses." After many years, take a break from a board and give others a chance to make a difference. You can also outsource, use technology or ask others to help.

You will realize that saying “No” gets easier over time, and you will become more intentional when saying “Yes.  This will allow free time for things that come up last minute.

You will be investing your time in accordance with your values


Is your Time Budget overdrawn?  What strategies have you used to budget your time wisely? 

Take a look at your calendar and see what it would be like if you had to cancel the week.

Email me your thoughts at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .