Time Budgets 101: How to Make Every Second Count

Author: Madalina Roman

For many of us, there is no doubt that the 24 hours of the day aren’t enough for everything that needs to be done.

Considering that the average adult should be spending eight hours sleeping and the usual work shift also lasts eight hours, the time left for extra work, house chores, and personal things is little.

That is why designing a time budget is essential.

Following a time budget can be extremely helpful. The belief that there is not enough time in a day can be crippling and entirely untrue.

Let’s see why and how time budgeting can help. 

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What is a time budget?

A time budget is similar to a financial budget, but instead of money, it involves planning and allocating our time intentionally to make the most out of our days.

It’s a vital time management technique that allows us to be aware of where our time is spent and work with greater focus and productivity.

Read more: The benefits of time management for team and individuals

5 reasons you and your team need time budgeting

Apply time budgeting techniques is advantageous in the workplace. It helps teams to set realistic goals and to stay true to what they’ll be able to accomplish.

It’s essential to follow a schedule that keeps you on track while performing tasks, mainly because time budgeting helps with discipline and productivity and is a great help in decision-making.

Whether you are a team member or a team leader, get to know the top benefits of budgeting your time. 


time budget for teams

1. Tasks get organized by priority

As for other time management techniques, organizing tasks by their importance is the first step towards planning successfully.

The dilemma over which task is more important is a very common one. Even more so when we confront time for work and time for family and personal things. 

A balance between all areas of life and between work tasks can be achieved with a time budget.

It’ll give you a clear conception of which task is essential and which is not. While practicing this, you’ll always know how to organize your schedule and what to do first.

Read our blog about the best prioritization methods to organize your tasks.

2. Progress is measured and recorded 

Analyzing your performance and keeping track of your progress is very important for career growth.

If you want to develop yourself and have goals towards this, self-performance analysis is a must.

Budgeting your time can bring a way to observe your performance based on your day-to-day activities.

Having this awareness helps you compare daily performances until you find your stride. Motivation can be found in having this kind of control.  

budget your time

3. Deadlines are easily met

Not being able to meet deadlines due to lack of time is one of the most common phrases in the corporate world.

A reason that justifies this, when there aren’t more severe problems, is the failure to estimate the amount of time needed for a task.

If you’re not considering blocks or obstacles down the road, likely, the project won’t be finished in time.

This can cause delays for the whole team. Creating a balanced time budget might help avoid these situations.

4. Work is done consistently, avoiding stress

Are you familiar with the story about the hare and the tortoise? “Slow and steady wins the race” is the lesson that the story gives us—a lesson in patience, consistency, steadiness, and perseverance.

Be thorough in your work, and read through documents twice or three times if necessary. Being this careful demands time, and not planning for this is a mistake many teams make.

Uncertainty and last-minute issues must be part of your time budget to avoid rushing and stressing out constantly. Work remains a pleasant experience, and everyone is happier and more fulfilled.

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5. A better work-life balance is easily achieved

By correctly allocating time, you’re avoiding blending personal and professional time.

Your time will be better distributed, and you might even be surprised by how much free time you can gather at the end of the day.

how to budget time

How to create a time budget in 3 steps

How to start budgeting your time? What is the best way to start budgeting? Before moving further, it’s crucial to observe your day as it is and take note of how you spend your time.

Be a little more aware and use a time-tracking app to gather information on your current routine.

With this knowledge, you’re ready to start your budget process.

1. Identify key priorities

This is one of those techniques that allow you to start big. If you put tasks aside for a few minutes, please focus on the key priorities.

Big goals, areas of responsibility, and significant roles. In this step, you can brainstorm ideas for each one of these important areas, being as general or as specific as you need.

2. Allocate exclusive time for each area

Next up, you need to figure out how much time you’ll spend in each area. Of course, there’s no set rule for this; it all depends on many factors.

You’ll end up allocating the time that you consider necessary. Just don’t forget to save extra for unforeseen issues.

Don’t over-commit, meaning you shouldn’t dedicate all your available time to your budget. Leave time off this planning for simply living.

Evaluate your budget from time to time and make the adjustments you need. Time budgeting is, after all, a personal thing. If applied to a team, it also needs to be adjusted to its needs.

3. Go ahead and spend your time

With your time distributed as you see fit, now you need to go and spend it.

Track your spending time to make sure it gets as close as possible to what you originally planned.

There are many ways to track your and your team’s time, but the most effective is to use a tracking tool like Timeular. Timeboxing can also help stay on top of your priorities and stay organized.

Keep track of your time budget. Reviewing progress and adjusting the budget is a part of the process, as important as the planning itself.

Priorities change, things happen, and being able to review and adjust keeps your time budgeting dynamic. This is what’s going to help you in the long haul.

time budget example

Time budgeting: a real-life example

Following, we’ll provide two examples of time budgeting. The first is for a single individual; the second is for a fictitious team. Feel free to adjust the example to our needs and use it as a baseline to learn the technique.

Time budgeting for Sonia, Marketing Manager at XYZ company

Key areas this weekActivities of the weekTime budget allocated (%)
Have a marketing strategy for next quarterBrainstorm ideas, lead meeting budget with stakeholders, create the marketing strategy 30%
Reinforce team cohesionPrepare team building on Tuesday, schedule and do 1:1s, coaching 10%
Personal carePilates, meditation, reading, doctor appointment20%
FamilyPlay with kids, bring Helen to the doctor, be at school meeting30%
RelationshipsA night out with Peter, lunch with Stephany, Dinner at Sonia’s10%

Time budgeting for Sonia’s marketing team

Key areas this weekActivities of the weekTime budget allocated (%)
Prepare marketing strategyPrepare assets, create copy, allocate budget, and select audience20%
Clients’ website liveCheck copywriting, insert images, improve SEO, get final approval30%
Fix bugs on the websiteLaunch the Black Friday campaign30%
fix homepage bugs, resolve issues with the pricing formfix homepage bugs, resolve issues with pricing form20%

TIP: Include timesheet software for marketing agencies to improve time budgeting.


Does time budgeting work?

Yes! Because time budgeting helps estimate and allocate time to high-priority tasks, establishing priority and better organization of time, we can say that it works.

It may take some time to do your time budget work, and you might need to cut some things off and deal with unexpected obstacles.

But time budgeting isn’t about perfection. It’s about being aware and using your time in the best way possible.

Why is budgeting so time-consuming?

Creating any budget can be very time-consuming. However, it is an essential technique, especially when organizing time.

You’re not only keeping track of everything you need to do but not wasting any time you can spend with family and friends or exploring a hobby later in the day. 

Is budgeting a waste of time?

No, budgeting of any kind is not a waste of time. Especially is planned sustainably. Avoid falling into a desperate cycle of budgeting and following it to perfection.

Restrictions and lack of flexibility in setting goals, time tracking, or budgeting can backfire on your goals.

Did you know that time management is one of the most important soft skills?


Creating a new habit always takes some adjustment, but having some discipline and respect for the boundaries of your time budget is fundamental.

Please ensure that work hours are for that and save time for your personal life and some moments of self-care.

By budgeting your time, you’re creating a framework to assess and adjust your life balance accordingly.

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