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Use a Time Budget to Get More Work Done

There are tons of tools out there that can help you get more done. These include time tracking tools like Harvest, timers, or productivity trackers. My absolute favorite tool is a time budget. A time budget is just a simple spreadsheet that tracks two things:

  1. The time that's left in the day
  2. The time it will take to accomplish each task I have to do

There is a finite amount of time in a day. And no matter how much you want to, you can't fit everything into the 16+ hours you're awake. So to make sure you actually have time to:

  • Do your work
  • Sleep
  • Eat
  • Move (exercise is critical to your health and your productivity!)
  • Run errands
  • Do chores
  • Do fun stuff

It's way too easy to get burned out because we underestimate how long tasks will take. Also, we tend to overestimate how much time is in a day. Sometimes, this is because our time gets eaten up by meetings and interruptions.

If you use a tool like this, you're setting realistic expectations for your day. When you have realistic expectations, you're less likely to burn out.

time budget

How to Use the Time Budget Spreadsheet

Step 1

The first step to using this tool is to first break out my bigger goals into smaller tasks. If you want to read more about how to do that, visit this post.

Step 2

Choose what time you want to stop working and enter that time on the spreadsheet.

Step 3

In your time budget, write down each task and how much time it will take, in minutes. When you're first starting out, you might want to break things out in very small chunks of time.

time budget

Step 4

Compare the total time it will take you to complete your tasks (Column D) to the time you have left in your day (Column E). If you have extra time in your workday, then you can add more tasks in. If you have more tasks than you do available time, then you need to take out tasks or complete your work faster.

Here's an example:

time budget example

You can see in this example that if this person completes their tasks in the estimated amount of time, there's some time left over. Allowing a little wiggle room in a schedule is a good idea, since some tasks will take longer than you planned. And you can't forget about distractions and interruptions, which can eat up those minutes quickly.

Want the spreadsheet? Click here! Since this is a spreadsheet, you can edit it to suit your preferences and needs. Make sure to bookmark this tutorial, as well, so you start using it right away!

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