Give Every Hour A Job

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For our family’s budget, I use a product with the on-the-nose name You Need A Budget.

There are two key points to a successful budget, according to YNAB:

  • Don’t budget money you don’t have – Don’t plan for your next paycheck. It’s not real until you have it.
  • Give every dollar a job – Make a budget category for everything. Don’t just leave money in a pile in your bank. Be intentional about what you plan to do with it.

It’s good advice, but recently I wondered why I don’t apply it to my to-do list.

Here’s how I normally plan a day:


  • Wake up at 5
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Do some stretching
  • Spend quality time with family
  • Fix washing machine
  • Catch up on work email
  • Catch up on personal email
  • Journal
  • Take a walk

Here’s what the list looks like at the end of this hypothetical day

  • Wake up at 5 7:30
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Do some stretching
  • Spend quality time with family
  • Fix washing machine
  • Catch up on work email – partial
  • Catch up on personal email – partial
  • Journal
  • Take a walk
  • NEW – do a bunch of random crap that wasn’t on the list.

Not very impressive.

I think I’ve discovered why I fail. I don’t respect time.

A scattershot list with no regard to how long each thing takes is recipe for failure.

Here’s how to fix it.  Use a calendar. If you slot the things you want to do into an actual calendar, it forces you to be realistic about what you can accomplish.

Let’s try my Saturday plan again, but this time in a calendar:

midnight – 5amsleep
5am – 6ammeditate, stretch, and journal
6am – 8amexercise
9am – 10amshower
10am – 11ampersonal and work email cleanup
11am – 2pmlunch and spend time with family
2pm – 3pmfix washing machine
3pm – 4pmtake a walk
4pm – 8pmdinner and more family time
8pm – 9pmreview tomorrow and prepare for bed
9pm – 10pmread and/or tv
10pm – midnightsleep

It’s the same stuff, but tying it to the calendar makes it much more likely to get done. It adds the element of time to an amorphous list of tasks. It also serves as a natural deterrent to overcommitting, as there are only so many hours in a day.

I think I’ll also add in blocks of buffer time, so when the unexpected happens there is room to adjust without blowing up the whole day.

Give it a try!

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