Jul 28, 2020

5 ways to budget your time

All of us on this planet have the same 24 hours in a day. How we manage these 24 hours make a world of difference - in terms of our health, wealth, relationships and our mental peace. 

When we plan our personal finance budget, based on our monthly income, we tend to allocate a fixed portion of it towards savings/investments and the remaining towards monthly expenses. Within the monthly expenses, a portion of it is allocated for fixed or mandatory expenses and the remaining goes towards discretionary expenses. 

Let's say, the split is 50% towards investments and 50% towards expenses. The expenses are again split into 30% towards fixed expenses and 20% towards discretionary or variable expenses.

This strategy helps us to become more mindful of our expenses. It also makes us prioritize our savings and investments for the future.

Money lost can be earned but time lost can never be regained. 

A similar budgeting strategy can be employed for our daily time as well.

In a 24 hour period, let's say, we allocate 8 hours for sleep. That leaves us with 16 hours for ALL of us. 
How many of these 16 hours are we investing in ourselves, how many are spent towards self-care, how many are spent towards frivolous tasks - questions we need to ask ourselves.

Here are 5 ways by which we can start practicing time budgeting:
  1. As a first step, start tracking your time for a week in 30-min blocks. Observe how you are spending your time. No judgments, no guilt, no self-criticism. Just observe and become aware. Calculate the time spent in various categories - exercise, cooking, work, watching TV, phone use etc.
  2. A casual check-in here and there of our social media accounts may seem like nothing, but they add up to 1-2 hours in a day. During the time tracking week, notice the hours spent on various apps each day.
  3. Start preparing a time budget. For each category of activities, allocate time (in minutes). For eg, here's how I have planned my time budget:
CategoryActivitiesTime allocated (mins per day)
Self careMorning Yoga45

Bath and dress up20

Evening prayers15

Evening Walk30

Eating meals without distractions45

Sipping tea20

Afternoon power nap15
InvestmentOnline courses30



FamilyPlaying with D60

Helping D with HW30
Social MediaInstagram30





Evening snacks30

Meal prep20
CleaningWashing dishes40


Cleaning kitchen counter top15
Other choresDrying and folding clothes20

Watering plants15

4.I read this phrase somewhere - "Time that is planned to be wasted is not wasted time". Allocate enough time in a day where there is no agenda or no plans. We are humans, not robots. After making my exhaustive time budget, I still have 2.5 hours that I could spend in whatever interests me that day.

5.Based on the time budget prepared in step #3, block your time in a calendar for activities that are pertaining to self-care, investment and mandatory chores like cooking, cleaning etc. This is a crucial step. In the personal finance world, the important advice we might have heard is that we should prioritize savings and investments in the beginning of the month and the remaining should be allocated for our monthly expenses. The same principle is valid for time management as well.

Revisit the time budget and your calendar every week to understand what is working and what is not. Revise the budget or the time blocks as needed. The idea is not to become rigid with our schedules but to become more mindful of how we are utilizing our time.

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