Why You Should Treat Your Time More Like Your Money

When it comes to responsibilities, you’re on top of them — especially when it comes to finances. You know where you stand, what you can afford and what you’re saving up to buy.

With your time, though, you don’t quite have such stringent rules that you follow. You work overtime, miss workouts, grab takeout instead of whipping up dinner — all because you haven’t yet figured out how to manage every hour of the day.

At the end of the day, money and time are pretty similar. You know how much of each you have and how you’d like to use them. Unless you’re on the highly fortunate side, you probably won’t receive an unexpected sum of money or minutes, either, so you always have to work with what you have.

So why don’t you treat your time a little bit more like your money?

Think of it this way…

Empty Account? No Thanks.

Your bank account reaches zero, and that’s that. You cannot withdraw money, and you might not be able to use your credit card either. You have finite resources, and the same applies to your time. Even if you forego some sleep, you’ll eventually run out of time.

This situation will teach you one of life’s most valuable skills: saying “no.” You might just have to decline an extra task at work or turn down an invite for happy hour if you’re already busy.

In the end, you need to budget your time and choose what will fit your schedule and what won’t — when you run out of minutes, you run out of yeses.

Budget Well

You know how much you need to put away to pay your rent or mortgage, as well as your car payment, gym membership and grocery bill. These are necessities, and you should delineate what you want and need to spend your time on in the same way.

Your biggest project at work should get priority over easier and less significant tasks. Don’t let work overtake the hours of your day either: Take care of yourself through scheduled workouts and meal time.

And never miss out on the sleep you need to feel rested and refreshed — for most of us, that’s seven to nine hours.

Have an Emergency Fund

It’s one of the most vital money lessons you can learn in your 20s: Having an emergency fund will save you when you least expect it. Whether you’re saving for retirement or putting away cash for a rainy day, you’re making a responsible choice for your future.

Each week, keep a few hours of your schedule free for the unexpected. You can use it to complete a must-do project or devote it to a relaxing bubble bath, should you want to. No matter what, you can use your time knowing you planned for it, which means you won’t be missing out on anything.

Why It Matters

When you budget your money well and stick to the plan, you don’t feel the strain of stretching your last few bucks until you get paid again. You’ll be proud of yourself that you stuck to your allotted spending budget. And you won’t experience any of the usual stress that comes with over-drafting your account or maxing out your credit card.

Budgeting your time will give you the same sort of release from the chains that bind. You might be overcommitted or overworked or both, but laying down ground rules will help you find a balance. You’ll have the hours at work, but you’ll also give yourself time for what matters: family, friends and self-care often get cut from the list first, but they’re essential in keeping you level-headed and fulfilled in all aspects of life.

Once you get on board with the time-is-money mentality, you’re likely to find yourself feeling happier too — and happiness is critical when it comes to time management.

If you’re feeling pressed for time and at your wit’s end because of it, you’re going to kick off a never-ending cycle: I’m stressed because I’m overwhelmed because I’m stressed because I’m overwhelmed. Right now, you can create a different routine, wherein you’re budgeting your time and happy because of it — and so on. Now, that’s rich.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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