On the surface, those who suffer from poor time management seem to have little in common with those who suffer from financial disorganization. After all, whether you’re swimming in millions of dollars or barely have two nickels to rub together, every single person gets the exact same 24 hours each day.
But according to economist Sendhil Mullainathan and psychologist Eldar Shafir, co-authors of the book, Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, both financial poverty and time poverty cause you to borrow against the future, to your detriment.
New York Times columnist Maria Konnikova describes it this way:
“[Putting off a looming deadline] is the time equivalent of a high-interest loan cycle, except instead of money, I borrow time…with an interest rate of its own: By focusing on one immediate deadline, I neglect not only future deadlines but the mundane tasks of daily life that would normally take up next to no time or mental energy. It’s the same type of problem poor people encounter every day, multiple times: The demands of the moment override the demands of the future, making that future harder to reach.”
Here are some of the most common personal finance tips that double as time management tricks.
1. Pay Yourself First
Paying yourself first is one of the basic pillars of personal finance. With this strategy, savers can create wealth and ensure they live beneath their means.
The time equivalent of this tip is to start each day by reviewing your calendar and to-do list. Often, it can seem as if there’s just too much to do, and that you can’t take the 20 minutes each morning to plan out the day and/or week. But just as financially-crunched savers can’t afford not to pay themselves first, the time-crunched can’t afford not to plan.
A 20-minute investment in your schedule means you won’t be surprised by plans, meetings, or deadlines that would otherwise slip your mind.
2. Know What You Value
Budgeting is inherently personal, which means you need to recognize what is most valuable to you when creating your budget. Then you can make sure your spending aligns with your values.
Similarly, time management requires you to know your values. It can very difficult to say “no” to opportunities — whether you’re turning down a chance to volunteer, socialize, or get a promotion.
But if you’ve taken the chance to recognize that the time you spend with your family, or exercising, is precious to you, then you’re able to align your time with your values and will be much more satisfied with your life — which will make it much easier to say “no” to less important opportunities.
3. Track Your Spending
Budgeting relies on this strategy, since it can be difficult to know where to trim the fat in your spending if you don’t know where your money’s going.
For the time-poor, it’s just as important to track your time usage. How many times have you felt overwhelmed with your obligations, only to realize that you’ve been spending hours a day on Facebook?
As with financial tracking, there are several apps out there to make this simpler for you, including Toggl and RescueTime. Look into using a time tracking app or time journal and see how you spend your days.
The Bottom Line
Feeling time-poor can lead to bad financial decisions and poor productivity. If you treat time poverty as a problem and tackle it with your budgeting skills, it can easily be fixed and allow you to feel more in control of your time.
How do you track and spend your time? What’s another way to spend your time and money in a positive way?