How Do You Spend Your 168?

    September 30, 2003

Let’s pretend that at the beginning of every single week, your bank account balance is always refreshed. It tops off at $168, every single week, and you have to budget that money to ensure that it effectively covers every single obligation, wish, and dream you have.

Now, $168 is as high as your balance can ever go. You cannot save up anything from the week before. Your account is always at zero by the end of the week, and it can never go above $168.

With this in mind, let’s assume that your critical bills and expenses make up about 30% of that $168. 30% is roughly $50 from the budget, so you’re left with $118 right? Now let’s assume you have another 10-15% in misc. expenditures. That brings your total available funds to roughly $100.

That $100 is wide open. You can choose to do whatever you want to with it. All of your critical and misc. financial obligations are fully covered.

Remember now – that remaining $100 is almost priceless. You cannot keep it. If you put it away for a rainy day, it will disappear at the beginning of the next week. So you have to spend it, and chances are you’ll want to spend it wisely right?

If you had to face this scenario each and every week, do you think you’d begin to sit down and carefully plan how you’ll maximize every single extra penny you have that week? Do you think you’ll begin to appreciate that money, and what you can do with it before it disappears? If you were to let it sit and waste… disappear the next week… do you think you’d regret that and take steps the following week to make sure it never happened again?

If you haven’t figured this out yet, that $168 you’re limited to every single week is actually 168 hours.

Time. It’s not renewable. You can’t save it for a rainy day. You can’t keep it in a bank to pull out in one fell swoop for special occasions. If you don’t spend it, you loose it.

Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets just 168 hours every single week. Most of us use roughly 30% for sleep, and another 10-15% for personal care and eating.

Some people spend 10-15% on traveling to and from work; watching TV; surfing the Internet; and even chatting at the water cooler.

Surprisingly though, most will not even spend 1% devoted to planning the best use of their 168 hours.

As a mother and small business owner, I don’t usually have to worry about spending 10-15% of my weekly time budget for commuting. I do however, get distracted by my kids’ schedules, household activity, the Internet, TV, and numerous other misc. things. Unfettered, these distractions can chip away at my overall time budget in any given week, and before I know it – the week is gone.

My biggest defense against this is to make time for planning. Even if it means staying up till midnight, or getting up at 4am.

In the past, I’ve tried using a daily plan. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered that trying to plan for 8 or 16 hours at a time is a bit restrictive. Sometimes it seems overwhelming to try and fit everything into that tight space. By thinking in terms of 168 hours – one week – I add flexibility, freedom, and optimism about what can be accomplished.

As I write this, it’s 8:30am on Monday morning. The dawn of a brand new week. I got up at 4:30 this morning. The goal was to plan my week, organize my lists, and get a jump on some work before the house started waking up at 6. I met my goal today.

Now I won’t try to fool myself or you into thinking I get up at 4 am every day. I don’t wake up well, no matter what time of day it is. But getting up this morning, planning today and making notes for the rest of the week, that felt really good. I know too that my schedule isn’t set in stone. As each day plays out, I’ll have additional things to add to my week.

But I started the week well – and that’s important to me. I invested 1% of my time budget, to create a comprehensive plan for getting things done all week long. And I think that investment will pay off in spades.

Try creating your own 168 hour budget this week. You might be surprised at just how effective it can make you be!

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