Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Time Budget

I've been giving a great deal of thought lately to making life smooth and simple by finding the perfect balance of flexibility and organization.

The older my kids get, the more I have on my plate.  The more I have on my plate, the more I realize the need for intentional time-keeping.

Being a Stay at Home Mom has many pros and cons.  A pro is that your time is your own to manipulate as you wish.  The con is the other side of the same coin - being largely unscheduled can lead to whole days passing with little being accomplished.  Enter the Time Budget.

Similar to budgeting money, budgeting time enables you to make the most of what you have by being intentional in how you spend it.  Here is how I am working on mine:

Listing Priorities.  Budgeting time begins much the same to budgeting money - making a list of common tasks and priorities.  There are going to be things that hold more weight than others.  Make a list of daily items and then pick the top 3 or 4.  My top daily tasks are 2 loads of laundry, reading my bible, running the dishwasher and reading to my kids.  Obviously there are other things that need to happen, but these top 4 are musts. Also list weekly and monthly tasks and check them off as they are accomplished.

Listing Short Tasks.  I made a list of short tasks that can be done when on the phone or when I have 5 minutes to spare. That way, when I do find myself on hold while paying a bill, or catching up with a friend, I know exactly what to do.  On this list is wiping down a bathroom, changing bedsheets, dusting a room, reshelving books, wiping out the fridge or working on a knitting custom.

Early to Bed...Alright, so I'm not great about getting to bed early.  But I have been trying to get up an hour or so before my children do each day to get a head start.  During this time, I drink my coffee, answer emails, start the first load of laundry and load or unload the dishwasher as needed.  I find when I give myself this hour in the mornings, I am ready to jump into the day with my kids and I also tend to get more accomplished.   I also try and do a downstairs walk through before I head to bed at night to give myself somewhat of a clean slate to start the next day off right.

Planning ahead.  This is one area where I need a lot of work.  Planning out meals ahead of time takes all the guesswork out of making dinner and can save a bundle of time and money.  Planning ahead for trips can make traveling with family a breeze.  While I tend to be more of a "fly by the seat of my pants" type of girl, I definitely see how planning ahead can save time, money and effort when implemented well.

For years I have heard of other moms using a Home Management binder to keep track of their various lists.  I am just now realizing that this is a wonderful tool for busy Moms!  If you want to get started with your very own Home Binder, check out these great printable pages over at Organized Home.

How do you budget your time?

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  1. I have been making weekly menus every Sunday evening for years. It keeps me on track and I don't have the every morning "What's for dinner? What do I get out of the freezer?" mind seizure. Plus it really helps with the grocery list. I buy what I need and food doesn't go to waste. :)

  2. Oh, I really need to get on this weekly menu thing. I know that it will make my life easier but have had a hard time starting it.

  3. I never thought of budgeting my time like I budget my money but it indeed makes perfect sense -- it's a limited resource of which you never have enough! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Kate - I have a hard time starting to too, but I think being more organized would ensure that we have more variety (instead of just repeating the same 5 meals over and over and over...) and also cut back on those evenings where I'm just staring, clueless, at an assorted of ingredients.

    Nada - Hi and welcome!! You are right, time is a limited resource...harnessing the possibility but putting your time exactly where you want it can help so much!


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