plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

August 14, 2008

time budgets

Filed under: productivity — Tags: , — plonkee @ 1:37 pm

Just like you have a fixed income, you also – but even more so – only have a fixed amount of time each week, and I’m guessing that you’re operating on the same 24 hours a day that I am (if not please let me know – I’m a sci fi geek). Keen to apply my budgeting skills to a new topic, I was inspired to plot out my typical week, which you can see in the beautiful diagram here. It turns out that I’m quite a busy person.

productive and unproductive time

There are a couple of things to note. You’ll see in the key that I’ve defined fluff (purple), and faff (white)¬†as two separate sections. What do I mean by those? They’re both blocks of time when I’m not sure exactly what I do.

Fluff for me seems to consist of surfing the internet (especially icanhascheezburger, and Stumble Upon), or watching tv or reading a book – the key thing to note about fluff is that it happens when I’m too tired to be productive. I have tried being productive then, but actually the only reasonable alternative to mindless stuff is sleep. Which I also do sometimes.

Faff can also be those things, but it can also be productive, it’s when I do my grocery shopping or tidy up the house. About one weekend in three I’m doing something particular – meeting up with friends, or travelling or whatever which tends to take up all the fluff time that weekend.

not every week is the same

Another point is that this is a typical week. On average I travel on business one day a week, and do three activities. In reality there are quite a few weeks when I don’t travel at all, and others when I travel more than once in the week. If work clashes with activities, work will take precedence.

given my current outgoings, what can I afford?

I should pin this up so that I don’t get fancy harebrained schemes about adding another activity to the mix. I only have fluff time available – in a typical week there’s 11 hours of it, but a third of the time that’s taken up with my social life. Which leaves about 8 hours a week for tidying up, grocery shopping, other [fun] shopping, plus any new activity.

That crazy idea that I had for starting another degree part-time looks like it really is crazy. It was going to be a distance learning humanities/arts degree but completing it on schedule would require at least 8 hours a week, for 8 years. And if I don’t want to drop anything that I’m currently doing (and I don’t) I’d be more on the pace of 4 hours a week. Which means either making a half-hearted effort, or spending 16 years on it.

This is also why any great idea I ever have for another website turns out to be too time consuming, and why I’m feeling the need to take random days of leave just to catch up with myself.

I recommend figuring out what it is exactly that you do all day. It turns out that even thought I think know I’m lazy I actually don’t have all that much free time. On the other hand, my jam-packed schedule doesn’t mean that there isn’t time disappearing in a black hole. See the stuff in green? I’ve called that grooming, but I honestly have no idea what I do that takes me so long in the morning. All I know is that I never manage to leave the house before 8, and yet my alarm goes off at 7.

What do you do all week? And have you got any time-stretching tips?

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