Time management consultants frequently remark that time is money. By doing so they hope to convey the importance of time. But of course, there is no comparison. Time is so much more valuable than money. And yet, some people treat time the same way as they treat money. It slips through their fingers as they squander it relentlessly. Others stick to a budget and easily meet their needs and then some.
Just as we sometimes engage in impulse buying, we similarly engage in impulse spending of time. And just as we sometimes discover that our money has been depleted with little to show for it, one day we discover that our life has been depleted with little to show for it. But there is a big difference; we can always earn more money, but we will never be able to earn more time. When time is gone, we are gone.
In business, there are fixed costs and variable costs. Variable costs vary with sales, such as the product’s material costs, and labor costs, so on. Fixed costs must be paid regardless of the volume of sales, such as rent and utilities.
In your personal life, there are fixed costs as well, such as mortgage payments, certain taxes, and a minimum amount of food and clothing, regardless of your income. You have variable costs as well, such as gas for your car, entertainment, and travel. If you had insufficient income you would not be able to travel, buy luxuries, take cruises or whatever.
One way of saving involves treating an otherwise variable cost as though it were fixed. For example, a lump sum would be automatically diverted into a savings account or investment account each month. Most people who do this find that once they have adjusted their variable spending to accommodate this new “fixed” cost, they seldom notice any perceptible drop in their standard of living. A common recommendation is to save 10% of your paycheck each week.
Similarly, we should consider treating those variable time amounts for family time, vacation time, and quiet time, as a “fixed” cost of living. Schedule that time in your planner first, as though it were as much a necessity as sleep time and work time. Then use what is left for everything else. You may find activities such as vacations, exercise or reading can be realized without sacrificing any essentials of life. It may cut into TV watching, idle time, or window shopping; but those activities are probably not priorities.
When we find that meaningful activities are being crowded out of our lives, it is not a case of too little time, it is a case of irresponsible spending. There is plenty of time in life for the things that really count. But we must budget time for these things and let them be realized at the expense of the trivial.
The same is true in business. Because we tend to operate with a “To Do” list and fail to put deadlines on all our important tasks and schedule those goal-related tasks in our planner, Parkinson’s Law takes hold, and the work expands to consume the uncommitted time each day.
That is why studies show that on a typical day people waste two or more hours. For strategies on deadlines and scheduling, refer to my eBook, Making deadlines work for you, published by Bookboon.
Just as there are forms for budgeting money, there is a time management tool designed for budgeting time. It is called a time planner, diary, agenda, calendar, or a host of other synonyms. Choose it carefully.
Note: The above article is excerpted from my eBook, Time Investments that get results, published and available from Bookboon.com.
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