How to Budget Your Time

Last year’s word of the year was: organize.  This year’s theme is time management.  I decided that 2016 was going to be the year that I master my schedule.  I started tracking my time over the last several weeks and finally had a lightbulb go off when I read Crystal Paine’s The Money Saving Mom’s Budget.  In her book, Crystal mentions having a time budget.  LIGHT BULB!  I love this idea.  I generally keep an outline for my day but don’t actually bother to see if I can get it all done in the day.

How to Set Up Your Time Budget

You have 24 hours a day.  That’s it.  No more, no less.  (Although most of the time, it feels like less).  You can work your time budget two ways, either by day or by week.  (There are 168 hours in a week).  However, you can’t sleep 2 hours one night and get 10 the next.  Your body doesn’t work in those terms, sorry.

Break your day (or week) into categories based on your obligations.  Mine are:

  • sleep
  • meals/meal time
  • grace period
  • work/blog/TPT store
  • quality time with the kids
  • homeschool
  • personal/relaxation
  • shower/personal care/exercise
  • home management

You may have more or less based on your life.  That is just fine.  Everyone’s situation is different.  You may need more or less time for work.  You may need time for spiritual learning or journaling.  Whatever you need to do, make a category for it (or see if you can fit it into one of your other categories).  Here is my time budget for 2016:

  • Sleep – 7 hours
  • Meals/Meal Prep – 2 hours
  • Grace Period – 2 hours
  • Work/blog/TPT store – 4 hours
  • Project catch up – 1 hour
  • Quality time with the kids – 2 hours
  • Homeschool – 2 hours
  • Personal/Relaxation – 1 hour
  • Shower/Personal Care/Exercise – 1 hour
  • Home management – 2 hours


The average adult needs 6-8 hours of sleep.  I chose a happy medium of 7.  Realistically, with kids, you may find your sleep interrupted due to nightmares, nighttime accidents, whatever.  You name it, we’ve likely all been there.  Just do the best you can.  Don’t stay up until 3 a.m. reading a book (guilty) or telling yourself “I’ll write 1,000 words, then go to bed” (also guilty) or “I’ll go to bed after I get the dishes done”.  Etc.  We all find excuses to stay up too late.  Don’t do that.  Just like your kids, you need a bedtime.  The dishes will still be there in the morning.  The book isn’t going to sprout legs and walk off.  I promise.

Meals/Meal Prep

My kids are grazers.  I’ve tried to cut this habit, but that’s just how they are.  Not a shocker, since that’s how their mother is.  I’ve learned to live with and go with it.  We do freezer meals that go straight into the crockpot, so meal prep for us on a daily basis usually just involves dumping cereal into a bowl or putting peanut butter on 1200 crackers throughout the day.

What is a grace period?

A grace period is those small amounts of time that get eaten up that you just can’t prevent.  The kids are fighting over a toy, there was a potty training accident, I have to refill a water bottle for the 10 millionth time that day, etc.  Life happens.  If you have kids, life is probably a train wreck and you know that those little things here and there just eat away at your day.  That’s life.  There’s nothing you can do about it, just take it into account, and then you won’t have to/need to stress about it.

Work/blog/TPT store

With the rebrand, I’ve found new life in my blog.  I’ve also decided to put more effort into my Teachers-pay-teachers store (I also have a teacher’s notebook store).  I have four hours a day to work on products, posts, schedule social media, network, photograph, and write posts.  This time limit may seem really small but honestly, it is to keep me from obsessing.

If you work outside of the home, there’s probably little you can do with this category.  However, if you work from home (which so many of my readers do) find a time limit that you can live with.  Imagine you are punching a clock and give yourself a deadline.  Stick to it.  Stop obsessing and lollygagging and staying up until 2 A.M.  (Guilty)

Project Catch-Up

My craft space is out of control with UFOs (Unfinished Objects).   I have unfinished knitted blankets, half completed scrapbooks, and bags and bags of half-started cross-stitch projects.  The reason there are so many and that they aren’t done is simply this: I don’t make time for them.  In 2016, I’m hoping to get some projects done and out the door.

Quality Time with the Kids

This is time outside of homeschooling.  This is reading picture books, watching a cartoon together (without an iPhone or laptop in hand), or just playing.  My kids are not going to be little forever and I want to capitalize on this time as much as possible.  Do not feel guilty if you do not have 2 hours a day.  You may only have 30 minutes or an hour and that is okay.  Just maximize that time.  Every family, every mom, every situation is different.


My kids are little (ages 4 and 2) and therefore we don’t need a whole lot of time for this category.  At their age playing is just as educational (although I would argue more so) than doing a worksheet on the ABCs.  Recommended homeschooling times for prek-K is only 30 to 60 minutes.  However, we do a lot of sensory play in our house, and I include this in our homeschooling time, instead of quality time.  If your children are older, you will need more time for homeschool.


This is my time to take a bubble bath, read a book (likely while I’m in the bath), watch some T.V., binge old General Hospital clips on youtube, journal, whatever.  Make time for you  I cannot stress this enough.  A trip to the grocery store with the kids does not count.  That’s homemaking/household management.  A trip to the library (without the kids in tow) while you wander the stacks?  Sure. Just stay out of the picture book section.  Do something for you.  Not the kids.  Not the husband.  YOU.

Shower/Personal Care/Exercise

I lumped this all together because, to be honest, I’m not 100% sure how this is going to look yet.  It is still too cold here to take the kids to the park (which I count as exercise for me since I play with them) or to take my usual morning walk after breakfast.  It usually takes me about 30 minutes to get ready (shower, dressed, makeup, straighten hair, etc.)  If we’re not going anywhere (or I’m not recording a youtube video or Scope for Periscope) I usually skip the makeup routine.  Again, you may need more or less time for this.  My sister takes 60 minutes to get ready every day.  It’s what she needs.  That’s okay.

Home Management

Two hours is a lot of time to spend cleaning a house that is going to get trashed the next morning.  However, sticky floors attract bugs and bugs attract scorpions.  Yuck!  Plus, we live in a neighborhood controlled by an HOA.  Simply put: we can’t afford to continue to get fined because a teeny tiny weed popped up by the sidewalk (no joke, it was a $25 fine) or I forgot to bring the trash can in before I went to bed on trash day (also a $25 fine).

FlyLady has helped a lot with me keeping up on my house being clean and I use this time to also work through my zones.  No “today is cleaning day” in this house.

Where’s Marriage/Husband time?

You’ll notice something missing from my budget.  That’s my husband.  The above time budget is for Saturday-Wednesday.  Why?  My husband isn’t here.  He works a 12-hour shift, with an hour commute each way.  This results in about 5 minutes of “love you!” as he darts out the door to work and drags himself home in the wee hours of the morning.

I also work as a substitute teacher on Thursday and Friday (my husband’s days off) and he has class on Thursday nights, so Fridays are our “date nights”.  I steal time from other categories (usually home management and project catch up) to spend time with my husband.  I know it doesn’t sound real romantic, but that’s our life.

Tip: Be Flexible

I cannot stress this enough.  Our schedule is a mess due to commitments that my husband and I both have.  I try to stick to my time budget as much as possible on his work days, but I let it fall to the wayside on his days off.  I still go through my morning and nightly routines, but I try to focus on family and marriage time since we have so little of it throughout the rest of the week.

Tip: Take a Day Off

Give yourself grace to take time off.  If you try to be 100% on the ball, 100% of the time, you will burn out.  I am so guilty of this.  I run, run, run, and then I slump (for weeks on end).  My husband has two Saturdays off a month and these are our family days.  Nonnegotiable.  I stick to my morning and evening routines.  We don’t have to do homeschool every day (my kids would probably hate me if we did).  Pick a day of the week (or a few days out of the month) and dedicate these as “days off.”  Do your morning/evening routines, and let everything slide off.  You can’t go, go, go all the time.  You will burn out if you try.

How do you budget your time for success?