Personal Success Requires a Time Budget

by Ken Rupert. 0 Comments

Recently I was asked if I believed that an employee becomes more productive when he works longer hours. My initial thought recalled a time when I worked for a union shop so many years ago. An interesting dynamic happened as the number of overtime hours increased. As the worker’s hours increased, the productivity of that worker dropped. When pay increased from regular pay to time and a half and eventually to double time, the amount of work that was produced significantly fell.

This is a catch-22 type question. If an employee answers in the affirmative, it could mean more work or higher expectations for the employee. If the employee answers in the negative, it could mean the employee would be looking for a new job. In economics there is a law that states “marginal output decreases as the amount of a single factor of input increases.” This is known as the law of diminishing returns and it is as real in life as it is in economics. This law is clearly illustrated in the above example.

Although the focus of my example is about time, in a real way, time is money. However, with time, you have to learn that you cannot control it, you have to manage it. Time is going to pass whether you want it to or not. Time itself does not move faster or slower based on your age (although it might seem like it), but it does move. And if you are not managing your time, it will slip away from you. When I work with clients, I insist that the client develops two distinct budgets. Certainly there needs to be a financial budget. One should have some level of knowledge on where his or her financial resources come from and where they go.

But there also needs to be a time budget. Each individual only has 168 hours in a week. Just 24 hours a day to accomplish every task of which the individual has been charged. I have developed two interdependent tools that assist an individual with time management. The first tool captures the hours associated with major categories specific to that individual’s life. For example, how much sleep he or she gets each night, how much time is spent commuting to and from work, or how much time is taken up by the small projects or children’s practices?

From there the individual will create an hour by hour time inventory log. These two tools are similar in function to a monthly financial allocation plan and a weekly cash-flow plan. The category tool looks at the weekly time budget and the time inventory log tracks the hour by hour activities. The former focuses on the “what” the individual does and the latter focuses on the “when.”

What I have found is that when an individual manages his or her time in a budget format, that individual has a greater sense of purpose. That individual has the ability to say no to things that fall outside of his or her time budget. The productivity of that person increases exponentially. It is not about working more, it is about managing time properly and accomplishing more in the given time constraint. Working more does not produce greater levels of productivity. It saps your energy and causes an imbalance in the work - life continuum.

Considering the following assumptions, the average person has very limited time resources each day.


Sleep 7.5 hrs Pre-work activities 0.5 hrs

Commute to work 1.0 hrs Morning Work 4.0 hrs

Lunch 0.5 hrs Afternoon work 4.0 hrs

Commute home 1.25 hrs Dinner 1.0 hrs

If this is an average day, the individual has about 4 hours and 15 minutes left in his or her day to squeeze in parenting, relaxing, and attending social, community, or religious functions. Depending on your lifestyle and your daily requirements, such as giving the children bathes, helping with homework, or exercising, you will learn that you have very limited time resources. Most of the time resources that are available to any individual are found on the weekends. My point is that given the busyness of life, there is a great need for a time budget.

Creating a time budget is essential to properly managing your commitments, but it is also vitally important to creating the space in your life. Just as you can find adjustments in your financial budget to pay down debt, save, or invest, you can find adjustments in your time budget to spend time relaxing or serving others.

An acquaintance of mine made the comment that he wanted to be able to do more in his church but he never seemed to have the time. I could see from my perspective that he was over-committed. Unfortunately, he felt so overwhelmed that he could not figure out where to begin to make sustainable changes. A time budget can help shed light on the areas where chrono-fatigue is happening.

If you are wondering about how to develop a simple, yet effective, time budget, visit and contact me. I can work with you to determine where you might be able to gain some time synergies in your life. If you are interested in other aspects of life coaching, such as personal success coaching or strategic coaching, please mention these on your contact form.

I am happy to announce that I have completed the manuscript for The Dynamics of Abundant Life: Living a Life of Purpose and Meaning. This manuscript now enters the next phase of pre-publication work. Continue to visit my website ( for the most recent updates on its release.  

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