Is Time running away from you? The Time Budget – a time management tool to help tackle Procrastination
Since becoming self employed, last September I have been interested in minimizing procrastination. A problem that it seems affects most of us in some way or other, but can be a particular problem when suddenly faced with so much autonomy. As part of my search for information, I started listening to the ‘iprocrastinate’ podcasts from procrastination.ca. This website has lots of information and research related to procrastination, created and maintained by a professor from Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) Professor Tim Pychyl. The podcast has been great, and so has his book, The Procrastinator’s Digest, which I recently finished reading. As a result of one of the podcasts he did on the concept of the ‘unschedule’ I created a spreadsheet to help manage time, understand how much time I realistically had to get the things I needed done done, in much the same way as one might create a budget when wanting to save. If you were saving for a motorbike you would want to know if you could afford that pair of shoes or if they would take you over your allowable expenses for your long term goal – if you know you want to do well in your studies you need to know if you can afford an evening off revision to go to the cinema once a week…
So here’s how you use it;
Once you have downloaded the spreadsheets the example SHOULD make them self explanatory. The principle is that if you know you need time for a particular project or task, you can plot what time you have to spend on commitments you have, and estimate where you might be able to fit in this hypothetical project, or apply it to your current working projects and see where something might be going wrong. At the top you will end up with a calculation of how much time you actually spend on those things in a week and if you have enough time. My personal example is because I would like to take up a part time degree and wondered if I could fit in the estimated 16 hours of study time, around my current schedule…debatable
1: decide your categories, it is important to include ‘unschedule’ as this is time that you spend on things you have to do, just to maintain your life such as cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, looking after pets etc. It is also the most difficult to predict and be realistic about, and often means we have less time than we think.
2. The categories should be listed in the box along the side and at the top where the totals are. Just replace goal 1 in all places it is mentioned with your first category and so on
3. Input your estimated time spent on each thing per day for an average week, there is space for notes if needed. At the top you can see how much time you actually spend in each area and that may be a shock or pleasant surprise – who knows
4. DO NOT STOP THERE! If you just leave it there, think ‘o wasn’t that interesting’, I’m not sure there will be any impact…so I would highly recommend that you create another fresh sheet using the template and record at the end of each day what you ACTUALLY do – it can be quite startling to see the difference. Especially, as people who procrastinate are typically very bad at estimating how long it takes to do things, this bit is important. It puts the smallest of things that you may think don’t matter under the microscope and lets you know the impact they are having on your life and your end goal.
Hopefully the tool and information provided will help and I will leave you with this quote a friend sent me today;
The largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose. What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily? For we are mistaken when we look forward to death; the major portion of death has already passed. Whatever years be behind us are in death’s hands.” Seneca