How well do you budget your time?

(Five minute read about how to better manage your time!)

One of the hardest skills to master in life is the ability to budget effectively.  Agreed? When it comes to budgeting money, the hardest part is controlling the spending.  There always appears to be infinite options for what to spend it on but there never seems to be enough of it to spend.  It’s hard to pick and choose what’s worth our money and what isn’t or to decide what’s important and what’s not.  In theory, we choose the most important things (bills) and spend what we have on those, right?  Then if there is something left over, we treat ourselves.  But most of you would probably agree that it’s often much harder than that…

Well, believe it or not, budgeting time is similar in that regard.  There is so much that needs to get done in our lives and there never seems to be enough time. Once we’ve finished managing chores, going to work and handling other priorities, it seems we have no time or energy left for the fun stuff.  But everyday we are faced with choices for what to spend our time on.  We choose when to go to bed and when we need to wake up (or want to).  We decide to go to work (or not).  We decide who to spend time with and what to spend time doing.  We decide whether to go to the gym or to watch more Netflix…

And that’s hard because every moment we spend doing one thing takes potential time away from another, right?  Before we know it, the day is over and our “To-Do” lists have barely been touched….

But one of the first lessons I learned in the military changed the way I value time (sleep deprivation will do that to you).  You don’t “go home” until the tasks are completed so I quickly realized that budgeting time is 10x more important than money will ever be and therefore, I began restructuring the way I spent my time.

Before I enlisted, I could sleep until 11:00 AM without a second thought but now, I chose to get up everyday at a time that makes most people cringe (yes, even the weekends and holidays).  My wife and I go to the gym at 4 A.M. before work and on Saturdays I get more done before most people even consider waking up.  Here’s why….

For the first week of basic training, I had no idea what time (or day) it was.  Everything just seemed to blend together.  But then I was able to wear a watch and I realized just how early I was actually waking up.  I remember thinking to myself how crazy it was to be up at 4 in the morning and that my family was sound asleep back home.  Then about 9 A.M. would come around and I remember thinking that my family is probably just waking up and I have been up for 5 hours already, even though at that point, it wasn’t my choice.  I had ran God only knows how many miles most mornings, eaten breakfast, showered, and began training before my family (except my father) even considered rolling out of bed and that’s when it hit me…

There has always been enough time in the day but people some people budget their time differently.  If you think you don’t have enough time in your day to get everything done, you might be right, but probably not…

See here’s the part that most people won’t like to hear; the reality is that unlike budgeting money, when budgeting time, everyone starts with the same amount and it never changes.  Whether you are filthy rich or dirt poor, you start each day with 24 hours, 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds every day and only you can decide how you spend it.

If you want to sleep in, that’s ok!  That’s your choice!  But you can’t say you don’t have the time you need because you do…you just chose to spend it differently…

I’m not here to tell you that one way is right and one is wrong but the reality is, everyone has the same amount of time everyday and its up to you to decide how to spend yours.  If you find yourself struggling to get everything done, maybe it’s time to write out a schedule for how you typically spend 24 hours and see what changes can be made?  Maybe you can only find 15 minutes to use more efficiently but you’ll be amazed at how productive you can be in fifteen minutes.

I have been out of the military for almost four years now and I still choose to wake up early because I have grown addicted to accomplishment, efficiency and productivity.  I wake up everyday in chronic pain and instead of laying in bed frustrated that I can’t sleep, I get up and start my day.  I actually wrote this post at 5:15 AM while on vacation one morning when I woke up in pain.

I love seeing my neighbors turn their lights on for the first time in the morning after I have been up and productive for three hours.  I love seeing my wife wake up with a glowing smile when she knows I’ve cleaned the house, unloaded the dishwasher, gotten my work done and worked out before she wakes up Saturday morning.  I love knowing I can fall asleep whenever I want at night because I crushed my “To-Do” list.  And most importantly, I love the freedom to decide what I want to spend my time on and when.

Again, I am not here to tell anyone to replicate my lifestyle because 4 A.M. isn’t for everybody (trust me), but what I challenge you to do if you are struggling to find the time you need, is to write out your schedule for 24 hours and start making changes.  If you don’t think you have the time in your day, look again.  It’s been there all along but now might be the time to start making sacrifices to budget it differently…


By: Timothy A. Natale

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