Manage Your Time and Master Your Money
Time and money have a curious power. Despite our best plans and efforts, there's only so much of either to go around, and at the end of the month we're often asking, “Where did it all go?”
Another interesting quirk: if you can learn how to manage one, you can transfer those skills to mastering the other. The trick is to understand how the two are similar and using those traits to build positive habits.
1. When you manage it well, there’s more of it
Successfully managing your money requires a budget, one that you can work with weekly and monthly to stay on top of your spending and saving and track your income.
Managing your time is similar. Using a calendar or task list to stay on top of what needs to be done and what you’ve accomplished will help you stay productive.
Budgeting your money and your time takes effort (and time, ironically), but the payoff is increased efficiency, which leaves you with more money and more time. If you're struggling to find your motivation to get started with either, just remember investing in efficiency almost always creates way more time and money than you put into it.
2. There are limits to both
There are only so many hours in the day, so you have to make the best of the time you have. There's no one "correct" way to spend your time, but if you aren't spending your time in pursuit of things that make you happy or match your values, you may be wasting time you can't get back.
The same goes for money. While you do continually replenish your money with new earnings, there's a limit to how much you have today. Spending too much on things you want may leave you without things you need. Similarly, spending too much of things that don't make you happy may make it harder to get the things you really value.
3. Prioritizing is a must
There will never be quite enough time or quite enough money. Things won't get done and purchases will need to be deferred. It's disappointing, but it just proves how vital it is that you prioritize your goals. When choosing between two tasks, it's always helpful to know which one connects most directly to your top priority.
Same thing with money: you may regret not having enough cash on hand to pay for everything you want or need, but you should strive to never regret your choices. Knowing what's most important to you will help make those decisions easier to make and easier to live with.
4. Use tools to help stay on track
Our brains are overloaded every day with tons of information to remember. Take advantage of the tools available to you and find a system that helps you keep track of both your time and your spending.
There's no one tool for everyone, so hunt around the budgeting/task management method that works best for you. It could be an app for your smartphone. It could be a pad of sticky notes on your desk. Just find a method that suits your personality and use it to stay on track. Keeping notes can also help you track your progress and give you a sense of accomplishment, which can be really helpful over time.
5. Keep adjusting
Continually reviewing how you spend your time and your money as necessary to make sure it’s working for you. Don't hold yourself to a budget or a calendar if it no longer fits your needs. Continually make adjustments to your budget or your schedule until you find the plan that fits just right. (And even then, feel free to change as circumstances and your goals evolve.)
Productively making the most of our time and money is a constant struggle, and you'll probably never find a completely perfect solution to either. But it's worth it to invest in a system that helps you maximize your potential.
If you need a little one-on-one help with the budgeting side of things, MMI offers free budget counseling 24/7. Let us help you put together a new spending plan.