You Need to Budget Your Time to Avoid Schedule Crises

Life happens. And when life happens, plans often need to change.1 The same is true for time budgets.

But budgeting your time can help put you in a better position to avoid additional time and energy spent managing schedule crises.2

1. Schedules don’t always go as planned.

When you’re budgeting your time, there’s always the danger of unintentionally falling victim to the “planning fallacy.”

More often than we might care to admit, we tend to underestimate how much time a given commitment will really require.3 When that happens, schedules get pinched.

Fulfilling your commitments becomes more difficult simply because you’re operating under the greater constraints that have followed from that overly optimistic planning.

2. Schedules unplanned don’t always go.

But if you haven’t budgeted your time in the first place, you’re even more vulnerable to scheduling crises.

The tendency to fall into planning fallacy is still at work. But you haven’t taken the initial step toward confronting this tendency that budgeting your time entails. The tendency to exaggerate what can get done by when doesn’t get reined in.

All of this means that, when challenges arise, you’re more likely to find fulfilling your commitments to be even more difficult. You’re also more likely to find that you’re not in a position to fulfill them, either at all or at least as well as they deserve.

If you haven’t budgeted your time, your schedule might actually be over budget. But you have no way of knowing. Your only sense is your current guess at whether it’s balanced or not.


If your time budget is overspent, you might not immediately get hit with the reality of having too little time for too many commitments.

It might take some time. But inevitably it will come to the point where too many commitments cross the line of too few hours.

Still, that doesn’t have to happen, and creating a time budget is a great way to start having fewer crises come up in your schedule.

  1. Header image provided by STIL

  2. I’m here using the metaphor of financial budgeting as described, for example, in Financial Peace University; “10 Budgeting Myths You May Be Falling For,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “What Is a Budget?,” Dave Ramsey, n.d.; “A Zero-Based Budget: What and Why,” Dave Ramsey, n.d. 

  3. For further discussion, see Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 182–83. 

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