Realistic Time Budgeting
I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of having a certain block of time available, and our to-do list tasks or goals that we want to accomplish in that time frame, only to turn around at the end of that period of time to have the frustrating experience of not getting nearly enough done that we thought we could. What happened? Where did all the time go? This can be in our personal / family lives, our jobs or our businesses.
Many of the frustrations of this are due to our expectations of what we can accomplish in that amount of time too high, and unrealistic. When we can look at it more objectively, it can reduce stress in our lives, and give more of a sense of accomplishment when we do reach our goals.
Say you have 6 hours available to do a certain project. Prioritize the tasks you want to tackle, with number one being the top priority. Now figure in your typical day, what percentage of that time is typically going to “putting out fires” If approximately 1/3 of your time is this type of work / situation, deduct that amount of time and your original 6 hours minus 2 hours of putting out fires, will give you 4 working hours.
Now, consider the average interruption will take about 8 minutes to deal with before mentally you’re back where you were before the interruption. How many interruptions are typical in your day? Let’s say you get 10 interruptions, 80 minutes. Now subtract those 80 minutes from your 4 hours, now you’ve got a little over 2 hours left to try to accomplish what you thought you actually had 6 hours to do. Is it any wonder why we didn’t get as much done as we had hoped? I believe this will reduce frustration just knowing this, and will allow us to plan our day with much more realistic goals. If something is added to our to-do list, then something else must give to make room.
There are some things that can be done to help however. Just looking at this may help you pin point sources of time wasters. Is there anything that can be done to minimize the need to “put out the fires”? Are there any types of preventative actions that can be taken to at least reduce it?
What about interruptions? Can a phone voice mail be used instead of answering the phone? Then when you do need to return calls, do them as a group, one right after another. What about email? Do you have to respond to emails during this time frame? Again, try to lump like tasks together, when you do need to email, handle it all at once instead of the second they hit your inbox.
Then realize, what you thought was your 6 hours, in reality were perhaps a little over 2. Attack your to-do list with your highest priority, then give yourself a pat on the back for working your best with those 2 hours you had, and that in reality, you did fill 6 hours, and perhaps have a better understanding of where it went. Knowing this will help reduce the stress and frustration of trying to accomplish what may not be possible, and give your planning a more realistic approach.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
By Valerie Garner, mother, grandmother and candlemaker / owner of Joyful Designs in Soy.