How to Plan Your Time When You Are in Debt


When you are in debt, or struggling to pay bills, it becomes especially important to make use of your time in a cost-efficient way in order to stay on top of things. Your time is your greatest asset, the most precious commodity you have. How are you using it? Do you think you waste any of your own time? Can you recall yourself ever saying, ‘That was a waste of time’? The next time you find yourself saying that, you should correct yourself and say instead, ‘That was a waste of money’, because that is exactly what it is.

Many people have no idea where their time goes or exactly how much free time they have. We all know what time we get up in the mornings, how many hours we spend in our job and how many hours’ sleep we need each day, but most of us couldn’t say with any certainty how many hours a week we spend watching television, shopping, doing housework, socialising or being with loved ones. Even people who watch their money carefully each week often have no idea how they are spending their time.

In order to identify exactly where your time goes, therefore, and to see whether or not you are making the best use of it, you need to draw up a simple timetable. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just a simple sheet of paper showing a typical week. Divide the paper into seven columns, one for each day of the week, and then divide each day into 24 slots.

First put in all the things you do on a regular basis. Start with the time you get up and the time you spend getting ready, then work through a typical day. Your day might include, for instance, going to work (don’t forget to include travelling time), or taking the children to school, doing housework and getting the weekly shopping. Put in whatever things you do regularly at weekends. Then decide what time you tend to go to bed each night – for some people this will be the same time each night. For others the times will vary. It doesn’t have to be exact: just choose a time that seems realistic and put that down. Then block out the time you need for sleep. For some people that may be eight hours; for others it might be more or less. Whatever you decide, keep it realistic and comfortable.

When you have put all the things you do regularly into your timetable, take a separate sheet of paper and make a list of all the other tasks you should be doing on a regular basis but may sometimes miss. These might include catching up on your correspondence; filing bills and other papers; tidying the garden; doing repairs to your home, car or clothes; or whatever else needs doing.

When you have listed all the outstanding tasks you can remember, transfer them to your timetable. It is important to allow enough time for them. Since they will vary from week to week, you may find it easier to devote two or three hours on a certain day each week to keeping on top of these jobs.

When you have added in time for these tasks, go over your timetable again and look at the results. If you are spending your spare time in enjoyable ways, such as going out with your partner socialising with friends, playing with the children or pursuing hobby, and you are happy with it and feel it has not been wasted then that is fine. However, you may also find that you have been spending more time on less productive activities than you realised.

In some cases your time might have been squandered not by you, but by other people. We are all familiar with the idea of someone using someone else for money. For example, we may say that someone is ‘sponging’ off someone else. What is less familiar, however, is the idea of someone sponging someone else’s time. Time is money, remember, and some people are very good at using other people’s time instead of their own. For example, some people have a knack of getting other people to do things for them, things that they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves, such as writing a letter of complaint. Some people refuse to travel anywhere by public transport and expect to be driven everywhere by someone else, even though they are perfectly capable of travelling by themselves. They complain that they can’t get around if that person is not there to drive them. Even if these socalled ‘immobile’ people contribute towards petrol costs (not all of them do), they are still using someone else’s time unnecessarily.

Do you do lots of things for other people that they could quite easily do for themselves? Mothers and housewives still tend to suffer from this more than most people. Male partners and older children and relatives who don’t help around the home, and expect all the washing, ironing, cleaning and cooking to be done for them, are still common. In fact, a person’s time is rarely so underpriced and squandered as that of some mothers and housewives. Times are changing, of course, and some men are starting to take a more active role in helping with children and household chores, but in many cases the changes are still not happening, or are happening far too slowly.

So you need to find out how you are spending your time, how much of your time other people are spending for you, and if some f the time spent is in fact worthwhile or necessary.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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