How to Budget Your Time If It’s Irregular

If you have a regular schedule, budgeting that time is comparatively straightforward.

From the amount of time you have available to “spend,” you subtract the time you think you’ll need for a given commitment. You work with a variable list of commitments against that fixed time until you’ve spent that fixed amount of time.

But your schedule might not be fully regular. Instead, it might be fully irregular.1

Does the idea of budgeting your time then go out the window? No, but it does take a different shape.

Instead of working with a known schedule and seeing what commitments you want to address in that time, you just need to reverse the process. You’ll instead work with a variable schedule against a fixed list of commitments.

Irregular Time: An Example

For instance, small humans aren’t known for their self-sufficiency or ability to keep invariably to a set schedule. So, if you have kids and you are your child care plan (maybe because another one has gotten thrown out the window), you now have pretty fully irregular time.

In that time, your kids may need you at more or less random intervals for more or less random periods of time. Your plans for that time will need to take shape accordingly.

You might decide just to postpone everything and enjoy the time with your kids. Or you might decide other commitments need attention as well.2

If you decide other commitments need attention too, you’ll need to somehow combine caring for your kids and addressing those other commitments. And in that environment, your time will probably be highly irregular.

Budgeting Irregular Time

So, if you try to stack up in your calendar a nice, neat tower of time blocks, you’ll pretty soon find it knocked to the floor. And if you try to stack it up again, you’ll be in for a repeat of the same experience.

Instead of going around that frustration-building cycle, take a couple seconds to consider what commitments you need to address. To do so, you might identify which ones are

  1. Both urgent and important,
  2. Not urgent but important,
  3. Urgent but not important, and
  4. Not urgent and not important.3

This identification then becomes your budget for your irregular time.

You don’t know what time you will have to tackle these other commitments or when you’ll have it. But whatever you have whenever you have it, you can then “spend” working down through these categories from 1 to 4.

When time is up, unplug, and go hug your kiddos. (Maybe even think about thanking them for whatever time they ended up giving you whenever they gave it to you.)

Let what you haven’t gotten done roll forward to another day. But if you’ve spent your irregular time on what was most urgent and most important, you already know what that is.

There may be some other important things there waiting for you. But what rolled forward from today will be what matters least and can best keep until later anyway.

Conclusion

Whether it’s caring for kids or something else, lots of things can contribute to your having an irregular schedule.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t budget your time. It just means you need to be intentional about spending the time you have on addressing the commitments that are most important.


  1. As a basis for these categories, I’m drawing on thinking like that described in “How to Make a Zero-Based Budget,” Dave Ramsey, n.d. 
  2. Here, the principle of an “emergency fund” from a financial budget can be helpful as well. Rachel Cruze, “A Quick Guide to Your Emergency Fund,” Dave Ramsey, n.d. A monetary emergency fund can provide a buffer against unknown expenses. Similarly, maintaining buffer time in your schedule can help cushion the impact of unexpected events and give you more options for addressing them. 
  3. For this framework, see especially Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), 154–92; see also Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 215–24. 

Header image provided by NeONBRAND.

How to Budget Your Time If It’s Regular

When you hear comments about “budgeting,” what comes to mind? For many folks, finances do.

But behind this specific context is the principle of deliberate planning. So you can budget other resources as well, including time. And extending the budget metaphor can open up different ways of thinking about the time you have available to you.1

This can be helpful if your time is fully regular, fully irregular, or mixed.

Regularity in Time

There are only 24 hours in a day or 168 hours in the week, however you use them. So in larger contexts like these, everyone’s schedule is entirely regular.

But within smaller units of time, you might have significant regularity as well. For example, week-to-week, you might have almost an identical number of hours when you’re working. And when you have those work hours might be pretty dependable too.

Budgeting Regular Time

When this is the case, you can decide how to “spend” those hours in your time budget. You want to be sure you do what’s important (not just what’s urgent).2 But it’s not so important when you do what.

Your total time you plan to spend shouldn’t exceed what you have available in that part of your time budget. If you do, for instance, you might end up over budgeting time at work so that it eats badly into time with your family.

But within that “work” portion of your time budget, you can have significant freedom to structure the contents of that time how you like to meet the commitments you have.

In this scenario, time blocking might help you visualize how you are budgeting your time. It can also help you notice things about your current plans that don’t work well but that you might not realize otherwise.

You can time block on a paper calendar, with Google Calendar and Todoist, or any number of other methods.

Conclusion

Whether you budget your regular time with blocks, a list, a spreadsheet, or something else, the principle remains the same that you’re deliberately planning how you’ll use your time.

And you’re ensuring that plan contains space for your most important commitments.


  1. As a basis for these categories, I’m drawing on thinking like that described in “How to Make a Zero-Based Budget,” Dave Ramsey, n.d. 
  2. On the relationship of urgency and importance, see especially Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), 154–92. 

Header image provided by NeONBRAND.

Audience and Predestination in the Letter to the Romans

A perennial question in the interpretation of Paul’s letter to the Romans is what testimony the letter bears on the issue of predestination.

Especially in the last few decades, the identity of the letter’s implied audience has also become more of a live question.

Discussing These Difficulties

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Jones, of the Illuminated Word podcast, to discuss both of these issues.

There was a lot more that could have been said than we were able to fit in the time we had.

And for me, the exact contours of Romans’s testimony on each of these issues is still very much an open question—and, therefore, the subject of projects in various stages.

But it was delightful to have the opportunity to chat with Chris through a kind of “interim report” on some of the work I’ve been doing in the letter.

You can listen to our discussion here below or in your favorite podcast player.

In particular, on the issue of

  • Romans’s implied audience, the use of the τε … καί construction in Romans has been discussed. But the regularity of this usage is particularly helpful for understanding the letter’s implied audience (e.g., in 1:13–15).
  • Predestination, there’s quite a lot of exegetical gridlock in the arguments and counterarguments between different positions. But an often overlooked question is “In advance of what (pre-) does this ‘destination’ or ‘appointment’ occur?” (e.g., in 8:28–29). And if we ask this question, Romans might have a surprising answer.

A Resource for Readers

Toward the end of the episode, Chris and I also discuss a free reading guide I created especially for

  • English readers who want to read their Bibles more carefully and
  • Teachers of English Bible readers who want to help their students read more carefully.

The discipline of reading the Bible in its original languages can certainly be invaluable. But that journey’s not for everyone.

So, this guide helps English Bible readers by providing a framework for considering more closely how the English text works.

Get the guide for free, and help encourage closer and more careful Bible reading.

Header image provided by Alex Suprun

Growth in the Land(s) Promised to Abraham

According to the narrative of Genesis, the land promise to Abraham begins modestly near Shechem.

The promise appears in chapters 12–13, 15, 17, 22, and beyond chapter 25.

In the last phase of course, Abraham has died. But when Abraham’s descendants receive the promise, appeals back to Abraham still appear.

Interpreting the Promise(s)

But within Genesis, the different forms the land promise takes create intriguing intertextual connections within the book.

In addition, each form of the promise provided Genesis’s Second Temple readers with a distinct set of opportunities to read the scope of the promises still more broadly.

This tendency to read individual versions of the land promise more broadly appears in Ben Sira, Genesis Apocryphon, Jubilees, Philo, Paul of Tarsus, Pseudo-Philo, and R. Eliezer b. Jacob.

The broadening tendency appears differently in different authors. The Genesis Apocryphon, Pseudo-Philo, R. Eliezer b. Jacob, and most texts in Jubilees reflect more modest expansions.

The expansionist tendency in Ben Sira, Jubilees, Philo, and Paul is stronger. These witnesses find in the promise to Abraham of landed inheritance a claim for this promise to encompass the whole world.

It is by far commoner for the promise to be interpreted around the land of Canaan. But the expansionist minority reading is itself commoner than is often appreciated.

Conclusion

Within Pauline studies, scholars often note the parallel between Ben Sira and Paul when interpreting what Paul may mean when he identifies Abraham as “heir of the world” (Rom 4:13).

But Jubilees and Philo share the same style of reading as well, despite their giving it very different forms. And although not to the same degree, you can see similar interpretive outcomes in Genesis Apocryphon, Pseudo-Philo, and R. Eliezer b. Jacob.

If you want to read further, drop your name and email in the form below, and I’ll send you a copy of the full article.

Header image provided by Claudio Testa

How to Time Block with Todoist and Google Calendar

Among many others out there, “time blocking” is an approach to organizing your time. As the name suggests, it normally involves visual “blocks” that show how you’ve decided to budget your time.

Time blocking isn’t as useful if your approach to work needs to be highly flexible. (The larger principle of budgeting time still is. The application just needs to take a different form.)

Where you do have a known amount of time to budget, though, time blocking can be a hugely valuable practice. It can help you get the most out of the time you have. It can also help you see when you might be planning too much activity for too little time.

Time blocking isn’t tied to a specific tool. You can time block quite well on paper.

Or if you use a digital calendar, you might want to time block there. At a basic level, that’s as simple as creating an appointment with yourself.

Time Blocking with Google Calendar Alone

That’s what I did in Google Calendar for a good while. But I found two downsides to having time blocks in Google Calendar and tasks for those blocks in Todoist:

  1. I had time blocks on my Google Calendar that didn’t reflect well what was in my Todoist task list. Often, that meant I had too much to do for the time I’d allotted.
  2. I would find myself doing duplicate work to show on my Google Calendar what I already had in my Todoist task list. That helped with the overcommitment. But it also meant I was managing my system when I could be doing what I wanted to get done.

For me, a great solution turned out to be having Todoist put tasks on my Google Calendar.

Then, I could see on my calendar the impact of setting a certain task for a given day. And I only had to manage tasks (and their blocks) in one place.

If you don’t already use Todoist, try the premium version for 2 months for free.

Time Blocking on Google Calendar with Todoist

Todoist’s Google Calendar integration allows for different preferences in how you want to use the two together.

What I’ve found most effective is to first create a new calendar inside your Google Calendar account named something appropriate (e.g., “Todoist”).

Then, in Todoist’s guide for setting up a Google Calendar integration,

  1. follow steps 1–7.1.
  2. When you get to step 7.2, choose to sync tasks from “All projects.” This way, no matter where you file a task in Todoist, it can still show up on your Google Calendar.
  3. For step 7.3, choose to have tasks you create on Google Calendar go to your Todoist Inbox. Google Calendar won’t know all the projects you have in Todoist. So, it’s easiest just to send tasks created in Google Calendar to the Todoist Inbox and sort them into projects from there. But you can ignore this feature and add your tasks in Todoist only. If you do so, you get the added benefit that, whenever a Todoist task appears in Google Calendar, it will have a link back to that task in Todoist (on the words “View source” at the bottom of the calendar event). That makes it even easier to reference and complete the task from your Google Calendar.
  4. For steps 7.4–7.7, I find the following settings a good place to start.

Of course, you can choose different preferences or come back later to tweak them.

Once you have an initial setup for the integration, though, click “Connect” in Todoist (step 8) to complete the process.

Conclusion

With these settings:

  • Any time you add a due time to a task in Todoist, you’ll also see that task on your Google Calendar. The due time in Todoist will be the event’s start time in Google Calendar.
  • You won’t sync to your Google Calendar any tasks without a due time (which they’ll all have, by definition, if you’re using them to time block).
  • You can easily change a task’s duration in Google Calendar. That will give you a visual representation of the block of time that task should take to complete.
  • Completed tasks will automatically leave your Google Calendar.

This will leave you with a Todoist task layer that you can then show or hide in your Google Calendar to help what you want to do when. And just as important, it can help you plan what not to do in order to devote more adequate time to higher priority activities.

Header image provided by Android Community

Uncertain about Integrating History and Theology?

It can be a challenge to read Scripture as a both a historical text and one that continues to address communities of faith.

Explorations in Interdisciplinary Reading contains 10 essays to help you address this challenge.

Among these essays is mine on “Rewriting Torah Obedience in Romans for the Church.”

Privacy Preference Center