One of the main concepts we believe in at Cents of Time is that you should budget your time just like you do your money. With the Coronavirus forcing people to use their time differently, some with little to no change, some working longer than ever, and some with more time than they know what to do with, now is the best time to figure out where your time is going or what you are spending it on. When we do travel to work, go shopping, spend time with friends, it is easier for our schedule to be more fluid yet also more set. For a lot of us we know when and where we have to be. For those that are stuck at home or maybe are temporarily unemployed, you may be thinking of ways you can do more and be more productive, we would say that looking at where you are spending your time is a great first step. There are fine lines between to much work and to much fun, to much of a ridged schedule and to loose of a schedule. This will be a journey and you will not have a perfect schedule on day one.
Budget Your Time Just Like Your Money- We hope that you budget your money! If you are not doing this we strongly suggest it! Here is an article we have on budgeting if you have tried in the past, but have fallen off the wagon. Assuming you do know how to budget your money, if time is an even more valuable resource than money, shouldn’t we value and put more effort into making sure we are making good use of it? The answer is yes! Sadly, it is too easy for time to slip away and for us not to know where it went. Enter block scheduling. There are many ways to do this and many different forms/methods to use. We want to keep it as simple as possible and quick to fill out. Your time is valuable! The template we use is on Evernote although you could do this on any notes app or good old paper. The process is very simple. First, list the hours of the day. We suggest full hours and not half hour increments and we will explain why later on. Next you want to add a notes/tasks section. Just something for you to write in what you are going to do for the hour. We suggest doing this for almost every hour of the day. Hopefully your sleeping schedule is pretty consistent so you may be able to leave some hours off from planning, but our schedule is from 6-12. It looks something like this.
One to Two Items Per Hour- We would strongly suggest in the beginning and even going forward putting only one or two things per hour. Why only one to two things? Because distractions and unplanned things will happen! Just like with budgeting you plan for emergencies, you need to put that same buffer into your schedule. You don’t want to become too rigid in your planning where you become a slave to your schedule and miss out on good distractions. Keep it simple especially in the beginning.
Trends in Your Days and Weeks- If you feel like all the days are blending together, you are not getting what you want done, or you want to try to divide your time up better, block scheduling can help you with that. It can also show you trends of when maybe you struggle to focus or your results for a new habit if you keep doing it for awhile. What if you could know which days were better to schedule tasks or for you to relax and get things done? With block scheduling you can see what you accomplish on certain days of the week. We have adjusted things on our to do list because of block scheduling because we found out that a certain day just was not feasible or consistent enough to complete that task.
Adjustments and Accountability- You can make adjustments as the day goes on, but block scheduling really forces you to not only be honest with yourself about where you are spending your time, but also how long doing something actually takes. It might be a little hard in the beginning and you might make lots of changes to your hours, but once you start to get used to it, it really helps you focus and hold you accountable. We think that is one of the biggest things people do not understand. Just like with money, you may not fully grasp how small purchases add up over time. Or that even if you can afford a large purchase, what could you have used that money for? In other words what is the opportunity cost of how you are spending your money? This same concept can be applied to your time. There are many things we do that we think are “necessary”, but maybe they are not or maybe you do something that takes a lot of time, but only somewhat enjoy it and can not seem to find more time for the things you really love. Budgeting your time just like your money forces you to say to yourself things like “Wow, I spent that long on this?!” or maybe it is the end of the week and you look back and think “I only spent that long on this area/task? I wish it was more.”
We could go on and on about the power and benefits of using block scheduling. It may sound hard, it may sound like you are planning your fun. You may think it is not right for you. When you hear stories about people on their death beds or in critical conditions, most of what those people say is “I wish I spent more time with/doing…” Budgeting your time and using block scheduling makes sure this does not happen to you. It makes sure that you know where and what you are spending your time on. Give it a try. Like any habit it will be awkward to start. Put the hour, put one to two tasks, and start planning and utilizing the most important resource anyone in the world has, time.