My November Challenge

Time for change
Time for change

Every month I set up a money budget. I don’t follow it to the penny, but it gives me a sense of control and understanding of my spending habits. It helps me to plan ahead. I’ve been following my budget for over a year and it has reduced my life stress by a lot.

Last week I was thinking about my training schedule and it occurred to me to make a time budget. For a few years now I have felt like I don’t use my time wisely and my theory is that it’s because I don’t allot enough of it to the things I need to do. My health struggles have had a lot to do with it and I have been doing a lot of observing my time behaviour patterns in the last couple of months. My theory is that if I allot my time properly then chances of becoming unwell will decrease significantly, as well as get stuff done that needs to be done that I put off and get “behind.”

I like structure and routine, which helps me to stay balanced and grounded. Life doesn’t work like that, though. It might seem as though a time budget would be too rigid to allow for life issues, but I think it will do the opposite for me. I think it will help me to handle the unknown life stresses because I can work with the time I have and it gives me a sense of control over my circumstances.

Similar to money, there are set things you need. In money, it’s life necessities: food, home, bills, and gas. In money, it’s also life necessities that use what the money gives: eat, sleep, and work. For me, the rest of the time is split between writing, training, cleaning, reading, and downtime. The time allotment fluctuates depending on the focus on the day.

For instance, there are days when my training takes up more time, which means that other things have to be less. On those days, training is my priority. On days when I have less training and less work, I can focus on my writing and websites. I know that a lot of people can do this without a “time budget.” I have never been one of those people. My time has had more of a “feast or famine” type of system. I’ll go-go-go for a while, and then I’ll crash. This is typical of someone with my health issues, but as my health is improving, time stability also has to be part of that. If I didn’t have specific goals around racing and writing, then I could spend my time all willy-nilly, and completely waste my time. It is against my personality, though, not to have a goal. This time budget challenge will help me to achieve my goals as well as work with my personality. It takes into account all of my needs.

So what does it look like? Some of you may be curious, some may not. The way I came up with it is the same way I did my money budget: I calculated how much time I’m starting with, took away what I needed to spend on fixed things.

Weekly hours available: 112 (after 8 hours per day sleeping)

  • Work: 33 hours (27 working, 5 hours commute, 1 hour break)
  • Write: 7 hours (1/day)
  • Train: 8-10 hours
  • Family: 8 hours (approx)
  • Total hours busy: 58 hours
  • Hours left: 54 (7.7 hours per day in theory)
    • Downtime: 3 hours per day
    • Cleaning: 1 hour per day
    • Read: 1 hour per day
    • Eat/food: 2 hours per day

It may sound confusing, but this is pretty much how my brain works. I like to break things down into what is left and then work with that. Once I put it into this, I then have to look at each day individually. Each day is different because my work days are different and we have family stuff on occasion, plus my training time fluctuates daily. So I created a template for each week and will fill it out weekly during my “downtime” allotment.

Here is the initial draft of a couple of days for Nov 3 to 9:

time budget screenshot
time budget screenshot

2 thoughts on “My November Challenge

  • November 6, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Time budgeting is really important and I needed to do an hourly study to see where my time really went. Because I have many of my meetings in town and I also oversee the care of my mother, my biggest “waste” of time was commuting. I was spending up to 3 hours each day going back and forth. On top of that – things would pop up where I need to stay in town for one reason or another often resulting in downtime when I had so many other things it should have been doing. I am now much more conscious of scheduling so that I eliminate trips – everything that needs to be done in town – any trainings, meetings or checks in mom are scheduled together, AND I always have my lap top, a project to work on and my training bag so when unforeseen needs pop up and I have to change my schedule I don’t sit idly by but I can somewhat stay on task. Time management is an art!!!

    • November 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

      It really is an art. My struggle is how to manage my time outside of work and obligations. Having a schedule gives me a sense of control, which I like. It’s not something that is static and there has to be room for unplanned issues and events. Oh yes, the life of an Ironman.


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