The Time Bank – The Ultimate Time Management Strategy
If you ever feel like you just don't have enough time to finished everything you need to get done, this is the post for you.
Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time? Often wonder how is there enough time in a day to accomplish everything that needs to get done?! Do I even have enough time to get it all done? Even when you have time, you don’t know you have time, so you still struggle with the task at hand because you’re anxious about the time and all the things you have to get done... Sounds exhausting!
Sound like you?
Well, I can tell you this is me.
One day, I sat down on a Saturday morning to get some client work done for my business, some work to build my own business, amongst a thousand GAZILLION other things on my weekend to-do list. Here I was on a Saturday morning, feeling very overwhelmed and asking the age-old question: Do I have enough time? Where do I even start? And eventually I was thinking, there has got to be another way.
Enter in the birth of... sound effects please ... du du du duuuuuu... The Time Bank.
So, what is the Time Bank?
It’s a simple exercise, really, and I’ll walk you through it in detail in the next post. But, what I really want to convey to you right now, is the concept of the time bank and how truly transformative and gosh darn simple it is! Like shucks, you guys... I wish I have been doing this for years!
The Concept a.k.a “The Big Picture”
What do you need to be spending time doing? What do you want to be spending time doing? What are you doing in your daily, weekly, monthly schedule that can go away? Or, what do you need to spend less or more time on going forward? Spend some time on these questions and really dive deep.
Calculate how many waking hours there are for you personally in a month. This will vary from person to person, like how much time you spend sleeping or in “down time. ” For example, I don’t go to sleep until about 9:30, but it’s usually down time starting around 7:30– my brain doesn’t want to work anymore by that point. So, I know I probably shouldn’t schedule laundry during that time.
For another example, let’s say the hours you are awake are between 6am and 8pm. That’s 14 hours a day x the number of days in the month (say, 30)... That’s 420 waking hours in that month. I’d like to mention that you don’t have to base your time bank on a month, although that is my personal preference. Maybe a week or quarterly time bank makes more sense for you. Or, perhaps your waking hours for each day of the week may vary. It really doesn’t matter– it’s all just a simple math equation.
Bring On the Spreadsheets!
Now, I think spreadsheets are super helpful. Begin with a simple two-column spreadsheet. Headers should include “activity/task” and “time.” Once all of the times are inserted for each task, you can total up your hours and compare it to the total time in your bank (example used: 420 hours).
One task I identified as one I was not doing before I created my time bank, but wanted to incorporate into my life, was 30 minutes a day of picking up my house. You KNOW I Marie Kondo’d my entire house. But, it’s more a matter of putting shit back to where it belongs which, turns out, is a daily task. And, the result? Vast improvement in my life! Brings good juju to my house, my family and me.
Referring to the example above, in my first column is “house pick up” and the second column is the time it takes to complete the task. Here’s your simple equation:
Time on task (30 minutes) x frequency (daily) how many days in the month (30) = 900 minutes
Because this takes 900 minutes, I would further break this down to hours by taking 900 minutes divided by 60 minutes to get 15 hours (900 minutes / 60 minutes = 15 hours).
Now, I take this spreadsheet and update my calendar. For something like picking up my house daily, I would block off 30 minutes and mark it as free but time is then still allotted for that task in my calendar every day. I do this because I know that this task is flexible and can be done anytime of the day. This is important.
Typically, before I get to this last step of putting everything in the calendar, I evaluate how much time I’ve allotted for my monthly tasks and compare it to my available waking hours. Usually, I have to have some realistic conversations and take a firm stand on what is really important to do and healthy for me and my family. (Note: The screenshot below, the yellow area is what we are evaluating.)
Also, I totally get you can only plan so much as life happens. Plans get messed up. Therefore, I factor in a 2 hour buffer per day (which we will dive into deeper in the next blog post). This, I know, can seem like an even crazier concept. Who has two hours just to add a buffer into their day? YOU, that’s who!
I completed my first time bank in April 2019. I am now a year in, just putting the finishing touches on April 2020’s bank, and my stress has decreased dramatically. I now know what I have time for, how I will spend my time, what I can eliminate, and what I can make time for. It’s like Marie Kondo-ing your time, or better yet, YOUR LIFE.
Now you get to take control of your time. It’s very empowering. And, when stuff comes up where there’s a choice, you can say with a quick look at your planner if you do, in fact, have time and can participate. You will be free of stress knowing you do have time for whatever it is and it’s not going to impede on the time you need to spend on your other activities in your time bank.
I am soooo excited about this concept in time planning and time organization! I remember telling people about it initially and people’s reactions ended up being ones of genuine interest and not “Lara, you crazy lady!”
It is with great honor to share with you the steps to create your own time bank in my next post, although this should have given you a great starting point.
Thanks for reading! Please let me know in the comments below how this is working out for you and if you have any suggestions or questions.