The Time Budget
A smart person once said that “time is money.” Perhaps I’m taking it too literally, but in an effort to better balance my work requirements and personal life while in the master of sport management program at Niagara University, I've found success by budgeting my time for each day the same way one would make a financial budget.
Before this current semester began, I looked at everything I had on my plate and was initially overwhelmed. In addition to three classes each week for my graduate studies, I am beginning work on my sport management thesis while working part-time for the Buffalo Sabres and Bandits. However, after reading this article on time management and budgeting out the hours of my day, it has given me the clarity to see that allotting set amounts of time to each task for a certain day makes each day seem a little less daunting!
Before I even start budgeting out the 24 hours I have in each day, I take eight hours in my budget for sleep. There are nights when this isn't possible, but I always feel ready to attack the day on a good night’s sleep.
From there, I plan out the major commitments I have to prepare for each day: school and work. There are some days where I do not have to worry about either work or school, and there are some days where I have to commit 10 or more hours to those two things. Generally, those are the two most concrete things I have to budget for.
From there, I look at other commitments attached to graduate school: homework, meetings with professors or class project groups, reading books or case studies, and getting a head start on any big projects I have to turn in later in the semester.
After I get through placing all of these commitments in my budget, I often see that I have a number of free hours left before my eight hours of sleep! Time with family and friends, watching sports, and running errands are all examples of things that need to be included in my budget as well. Budgeting time for commitments other than work and school is incredibly important for me each day, even if it is only for an hour or two, just to recharge and give my body a break.
When in doubt about how long an activity will take, I always try my best to budget more time than I think an activity will require. That way, if I take longer than expected to complete a task or need to take a break in the middle, I have the flexibility to do that. If I finish a task quicker than I expect, then that turns into a budget surplus. I can either invest that surplus into doing a task I would have done the next day, or take it as a bonus and use the extra time to unwind.
Making an ordinary to-do list of tasks to complete in a day just didn't cut it for me. Most of the time, I would either put too much on my list and spend the whole day discouraged, or put too little on the list and ignore it altogether, assuming I can just transfer that list to the next day.
Not only does budgeting my time for each day provide a simple activity each night before going to bed, it also gives me peace of mind knowing that I won’t be running around the next day with no plans in place.