Learn How to Budget Your Time

Learn How to Budget Your Time
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Happy 2nd week of the semester! Things are still new, but you may also find yourself starting to settle into your rhythm for Fall semester at Minneapolis Media Institute. One thing that will start to become clear is that you are going to have a lot of different projects and things that need your attention as the semester wears on. One thing that I see students struggle with quite often is time management. I wanted to share some thoughts on what I consider the “time budget” and how to build one. I meet with a lot of students who say, “I just don’t have time for this class,” or for their homework or (insert necessary activity here). What has always helped me in managing time is looking at time like I would money. I have a finite amount of it, and sometimes I have to prioritize to determine the best way to spend it.

  1. Take Stock of How You Spend Your Time

When building a budget, it’s often best to take stock of how you are spending your money. Do the same thing with your time. Keep a notebook with you for two or three days and write down how much time you spend on each thing, from getting ready in the morning to your commute to homework to time spent surfing the internet watching cat videos (it always starts with one, and then another hour later you’re completely down the rabbit hole).

  1. Prioritize

Once you have an idea of how you are spending time you can start to determine what is necessary and what is not. This is where the needs and wants come in to play. When I was growing up, my parents really forced me to consider what was something I needed, versus what I wanted, when it came to spending money. Yeah, sometimes I really want to buy that super cute pair of jeans on sale at Target, but I need to get an oil change for my vehicle so I can get to work. And besides, I have a couple functional pairs of jeans at home anyway. This type of thinking works on how we spend our time, as well. Yeah, I would love to veg out and watch some Game of Thrones, but I need to put some time into housework, hit the grocery store, go to the gym, etc.

  1. Write it All Down to Visualize

After prioritizing, I start to actually build my time budget. I take a blank weekly schedule and start blocking in all of my regular commitments so that I can see what my week actually looks like. When something comes up that needs to get done I try to figure out where I can fit it in amongst the things that I generally do each week. If I’m finding that my veg-out/personal time is getting in the way of things that must get done, well then it comes back down to what do I want to get done, versus what do I need to get done. You may also find that after doing a weekly schedule, that you seem to have lots of time open. So why do you feel like you still don’t have enough time?

  1. Hold Yourself Accountable to Your Time Budget

The last step is holding yourself accountable to your time schedule. If you see empty spaces on your schedule and you feel like you don’t have enough time to get everything done, it is likely that you are filling up all your empty time with stuff that just may not be as important as the stuff you need to get done. Try to set some alarms on your phone, tablet or computer for the downtime outlined on your time budget. Give the alarm a message like “Is there something better you could be doing with your time?” It might help snap you back to what you should be focusing on. If you need help figuring out your own time budget, feel free to let me know! I’m happy to help. Finally, if you have some time open on your schedule for this weekend and are looking for something to do (assuming your homework is done, of course), consider coming to cheer on some MMI faculty and staff as we compete in the Twin Cities 5k Corporate Team Challenge as part of the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend. This 5k is on Saturday, October 3 at 9:00am at the Capitol in St. Paul. Come watch, Paul Peterson (Audio & Recording Arts Lead Instructor), Adam Krinsky (Audio & Recroding Arts Faculty), Kai Thietje (Business in Media Lead Instructor), Vaughn Forsythe (Career Services Advisor) and myself as we take on runners from other companies around the Twin Cities such as 3M, Buffalo Wild Wings, Target & General Mills. We would love your support!