Happy New Year!  As in years past, 2012 brings with it 365 new days.  That’s 8,760 hours or 525,600 minutes.  You’ll have 52 Saturdays, 52 Sundays, 10 Federal holidays and most likely several weeks of vacation and sick time.  How will you spend all that time?

If you’re still working, you’ll spend about 2,086 hours on the job.  That’s 86.9 days or just under 3 months.  If you average 7 hours of sleep each night, you’ll spend about 3.5 months (2,555 hours) in bed.  That leaves you with about 5.5 months to do everything else.

Unfortunately, those months won’t come in one big uninterrupted block.  You’ll get a bit in the morning and a bit in the evening.  You’ll have an extra day here and some time to yourself there.  If you’re not careful, it will be easy to let it slip through your fingers.

To avoid that, I’d suggest that you make a time budget.  In the same way that a financial budget can help you track spending and allocate your resources, a time budget can help you steward your time wisely.  How to do it?  Below is a basic outline to get you started:

2012 Time Budget

Income (time earned)

Hours                                                                                8,760

Total                                                                                8,760

Expenses (time spent)

Work                                                                                __________

Sleep                                                                                __________

Life Maintenance

Cooking                                                                             ___________
Eating                                                                                 ___________
Personal care                                                                  ___________
Shopping                                                                           ___________
Paying bills                                                                       ___________
Commuting                                                                       ___________
Housekeeping                                                                  ___________
Household projects                                                      ___________
Other                                                                                    ___________


Time with spouse                                                            ___________
Time with kids                                                                  ___________
Time with friends                                                            ___________
Vacation                                                                             ___________
Hobbies                                                                               ___________
Television                                                                           ___________
Reading                                                                               ___________
Other                                                                                    ___________


Volunteer work                                                                ___________
Church                                                                                 ___________
Other                                                                                     ___________
Total                                                                                    __________

Key Takeaways

I had 3 key takeaways after doing this exercise myself.

First, I discovered that outsourcing is my friend.  If you’re like me, a lot of your day is eaten up by all the routine, but necessary little tasks that make your life run.  Where possible, I have outsourced and simplified.  Electronic bill pay has helped minimize the time I spend paying the bills each month.  Hiring a lawn service has given me a few extra weekend hours.  Wherever possible, simplify and outsource so you can focus on milestones and not maintenance.

Second, I discovered the importance of not just managing my time, but aligning it with my priorities.  Time management can help you do things right (i.e. efficiently), but time alignment will help you actually do the right things.

It’s easy to get sidetracked and spend time on things that don’t get you any closer to your goals.  For example, according to Nielsen, the average American watches 4-5 hours of television per day.  Since that number includes weekends, most of us spend almost as much time in front of the T.V. each week as we do at work.  By realigning that time with your priorities you can give yourself about 1,500 hours (or 2 months) per year to spend on things that matter.  Avoid wasting and overspending time on things that aren’t important.

Finally, making a time budget helped me realize that all of my time is not created equally.  The hours in my day are part oyster and part pearl.  I spend most of my time on the mundane and a fraction of my day on the meaningful.  For me it follows the 80/20 Rule, with about 20 percent of my time producing roughly 80 percent of my meaning and fulfillment. That means freeing up just a little time can make a big difference as long as I spend that time doing the right things.  I’m sure the same is true for you.  Make sure that your oyster is set up to produce pearls.

Thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed this article scan the “Related Posts” section below for others like it.

Onward to an amazing 2012!


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