Budgeting money, nothing is more joyful and depressing at the same time. The joy can come from the realization of how much you have or in the discovery of ways in which you can maximize what you do have (like cutting frivolous expenses). The depression often comes from realizing that you are wasteful and are not able to stick to the budget or the unforeseen things that blow the budget. Whether you stick to your budget or not, the simple act of planning one gives you a perspective on your money and where it is going. It makes you control your money and not have your money control you. Anyway you look at, at its core a budget is asking you to make a choice with every single dollar you earn. The goal is to then have a plan to meet your goals. It is a very basic but extremely healthy thing and great for any marriage/family.
Much like money, I have recently come to the realization that time is something that greatly needs to be budgeted, yet I had not been approaching it as thoughtful or strategic. Let me explain with a story.
My wife was having troubles with her computer, so like a good husband I took it into the computer repair store (after fiddling with it myself of course). Having dropped it off in the morning I was going to swing by on my way home from work to pick it up. I texted my wife letting her know and she mentioned that we had dinner plans that night and I needed to be home on time. Solution: leave about 10 minutes early from work.
I totally got this, what can go wrong?
Arriving to pickup the computer I was met with the bad news that they would not be able to fix it and that I would have to try taking it in to the Apple Store (read; expensive) to see if maybe they would give me a deal. Discouraged and slightly stubborn in thinking perhaps I can take this repair on myself or that he was not telling me the whole truth I began to ask him more about the issue. As he droned on about the specifics of the issue with great passion…afterall I am sure not too many people ask him technical specifics…I briefly remembered that I was in a time crunch. I thought to myself that I need to just leave like right this second if I was going to get home on time…but this guy just kept talking and talking…zero pausing, and leaving me seamlessly no way out. I felt a little bad because he didn’t charge anything for the diagnostic of the computer so it’s not like I could just grab the computer and run.
So I waited patiently…
and listened some more as the minutes ticked by until finally, a break, I quickly stated I had to run and hopped in the car.
As I drove home I realized that I was going to be late I got frustrated that I hadn’t left sooner.
“Why didn’t I just leave?”
“Why did I care if it was considered rude”
“Who cares what that guy thinks”
What didn’t hit me until later is that I was making a conscious decision. My hand was not forced and the situation was not outside of my control, I chose and I chose for a reason.
I chose my reputation over my wife
In that moment I chose to sit there and essentially entertain a guy I did not know because I didn’t want to be looked at as a jerk. I also didn’t want to ruin a relationship with him in the event that I needed a repair of a diagnostic from him in the future.
These were conscious decisions, my brain was making them as I sat there. What I failed to realize is the consequences of those decisions and at what expense they came. Much like a budget there are only finite resources available and if one budget item gets the dollar bills, the other budget item does not.
This is not time management, this is a realization that choices are being made with every second that you have.
In looking at your day and the things that take your time, weather at work or at home, look at it from a budget perspective. It’s not that you cannot spend the time to talk to that person you do not know, maybe that is the best use of your time, but assess if it is and realize the cost of that interaction. It’s all too easy to get pulled into conversations or duties that take away time that NEEDS to be spent other places, and those are not always your wife and kids. Sometimes you need to take some time to yourself so that you can invest in those around you. It’s not as simple as just saying you need to blow-off those around you and prioritize your family, it’s being cognizant of the affects of the decision. You need to realize that if you need a nap so that you can be more engaged and intentional with you kids, then you need to talk to your wife about that and take the nap. It’s not that you just “need a break” and then you waste that time surfing the internet, leaving you more depleted and not refreshed. Then it’s a matter of not staying up late watching Netflex (documentaries are my Kryptonite). It’s taking a holistic approach.
The first step is to realize that everyday you make many many choices about your time and how it’s spent, think twice about something that you “need” to do and focus on what truly matters.
In regards to the story about not wanting to seem like a “jerk” to repair guy, there is a great post on the topic of “nice guys” that my friend Joel Runyon wrote. While I consider myself a “nice guy” I think that Joel hits on some great points.
The store mentioned in the piece is great at service and actually pretty reasonably priced. If you have an Apple product and you are in the Grand Rapids, MI area, hit them up.