Dec 15, 2008

How To Budget Your Time

They say that time is money. Both are certainly very important. We use bank statements, checkbooks, and credit cards to organize our funds so we don’t run out of cash at the wrong moment. But if the aforementioned adage is true, shouldn’t we treat our time with the same respect as our money? This week we’ll show you some tips on conserving that crucial resource.

The simplest and most obvious solution is the day planner. There are many different types of day planners, both digital and analog. In fact, most computers come with pre-loaded software you can use for free. It is important to find one that best suits your needs. Do you prefer to write down tasks by hand or enter them onto your computer? Do you want to plan things down to the day or down to the hour? Would you prefer sticky note reminders or a prompt from your computer? There is an incredible array of time management systems available today—take the time to find one that is best for you.

Once you have a planner, the next step in managing your time is to cut down or eliminate completely any time-killers that might interfere with your work. These include instant messaging, texting, e-mail, networking sites like MySpace or Facebook, and any other activity going on in the background that takes away your attention. Although these things may not create a huge distraction, they will definitely add to the time you spend on the important tasks. Try to give all your focus to a single assignment instead of multiple things at once. Test yourself on completing your work as quickly and effectively as possible. Writing on your friend’s wall will still be there once you’re done.

Next, have specific goals in mind before you get down to work. If you are working on a large project that requires multiple work-sessions, create a timetable of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by. The satisfaction of crossing out completed tasks will keep you from getting burned out and frustrated.

Prioritizing your work is also a key factor in spending your time wisely. Complete the most important tasks first. That way, if you find yourself getting stuck and spending more time than originally allocated you won’t be cutting into anything crucial.

Once you get a feel for how long it takes to complete regular assignments, you’ll be able to manage your time in specific blocks. For example:

E-mail, phone calls- 1.5 hours
Lunch- 1 hour
Research for term paper- 2 hours
Reading- 1.5 hours
Go to the beach- 3 hours

The end result should be an agenda that helps you finish all your work and gives you room to play. If you can’t figure in some rest and relaxation, you definitely need to rethink your schedule!

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