At the end of every month, I can tell you exactly where my money goes. I can tell you down to the penny how much I spent on everything from coffee (yes, it has its own category) to professional development. I have a budget in place and there is no uncertainty surrounding whether I achieve it. There is concrete proof. I cannot make excuses or make assumptions; the numbers stare back at me on my spreadsheet.
So why, unlike my where my money is spent, am I constantly wondering, where did my time go? I do try to plan how much time I will spend on things and when I will do them. I’m currently 20 minutes into my blog writing scheduled from 7 am – 9 am on Saturday morning. And while I do budget my time on most days, I have no idea what I actually end up spending. I do not know if I stick to my budget or if I overspend and waste my time. If time is money, then I should measure it.
Many of us complain that we don’t have enough time, myself included. So, I decided that for a month I would track where I spend my time. Except, I got to the two-week mark of tracking and realized I needed an intervention. Once I had the information, I automatically started changing some of my habits.
I wasn’t concerned with how much time I spend reading, blogging, or other things I consider valuable. I was interested in figuring out if I am wasting time in undesirable areas. With my monthly budget, I want to keep my coffee, entertainment and materialistic spending in check. With my time budget, I wanted to see where time went in the categories of avoidance/procrastination, luxuries, and misguided time. Your categories and areas tracked may be different depending on your values, but these are mine.
How much time do I spend between when I decide I need to do something and when I actually get around to doing it? The biggest things I avoid doing or procrastinate are writing, getting ready for bed (washing my face and brushing my teeth is ridiculously difficult), and chores such as taking out the garbage, doing dishes etc.
|Avoidance Prediction||10 minutes/day|
|Actual Time Spent:|
|Before Writing||12 minutes/day|
|Before Bed||6 minutes/day|
|Before Chores||7 minutes/day|
|Total Avoidance Spent||25 minutes/day|
|or 175 minutes/week|
Frivolous spending is the time I use that provides short-term satisfaction, but doesn’t align with my values and doesn’t improve me in any way. Time spent on my phone is sometimes productive like watching TED talks or responding to emails, but often it is not. I downloaded the app Moment that shows the amount of time spend on your phone. It shows the overall amount, but also breaks it down into times you pick up your phone, when you start looking at your phone and minutes per episode. When figuring out my time usage, I subtracted out productive time on my phone and also time that was already allotted to avoidance/procrastination as to not overlap.
I’m very cognizant of the amount of money I spend on going out for coffee in the morning, but I had no idea the time I was wasting when I didn’t make it at home. I’ve been monitoring my Netflix use since last year so this is the one category I was not surprised by.
|Frivolity Prediction||40 minutes/day|
|Actual Time Spent:|
|Getting coffee (avg)||8 minutes/day|
|Time on phone (excluding procrastination)||10 minutes/day|
|Total Frivolity Spent||48 minutes/day|
|or 336 minutes/week|
There are things that take more time than required due to lack of planning/organization. I put these into misguided time spent because these could and should be improved rather than eliminated. For example, I could save a significant amount of time by planning out my meals or my grocery list.
|Misguided Prediction||35 min/week|
|Actual Time Spent:|
|Looking for keys (3 min/day)||21 min/week|
|Food shopping net (without a list 63 min – with list 31 min)||32 min/week|
|Cooking time net (without meal prep 126 min – meal prep 71 min)||55 min/ week|
|Total Misguided Time Spent||15 minutes/day|
|or 108 minutes/week|
Total Time Wasted: 619 minutes/week or 88 minutes/day
All time usage was an average and often wasted time was spent on weekends more so than weekdays, but breaking it into time/day gave me a better grasp on the usage. I spent 10 hours over the course of the week in unnecessary activities. It is not realistic to think that I can eliminate all of these things, but I can certainly budget better. There are 10 more hours per week that I can make use of in any way I chose. There are days I claim that I do not have time to work out or read an article or do a list of things that are good for me. But, the truth is I do have time, I’m just spending it elsewhere. I could fit a 10-minute run into each day if I just make my coffee at home and know where I put my keys.
I planned to monitor my time for one-month, but it did not take long to find the flaw in my I don’t have enough time excuse. The 619 minutes is all time that is within my control. Now that I know the amount, I still may not always use my time efficiently and productively, but at the very least I’ll no longer spend any time wondering where my time goes.
Where does your time go?