I love the idea of [automaticity]:
Automating what you can in life so that you can think about the things that are important to think about, do the things that are important to do, enjoy the things that you truly enjoy, and prioritize the things you want to concentrate on.
I have found the key to freeing up time for the activities I want to participate in; finding the energy to live an interesting life ... is finding ways to have the routine things work routinely, and taking time to be mindful and enjoy the activities that are interesting.
I have decided that for me to live the life I want to live, I need to budget 3 things:
- My time
- My money
- My calories
Next, the all important budgeting takes place.
It was eye opening when I wrote out the first draft of my time budget. Where you invest your time is truly where you place your values into action. To approach my time budget, I followed Harry Kraemer's idea that there are only 168 hours in a week and every activity should be budgeted. This has the potential to become too time-consuming itself, but here are a few important guidelines, in my opinion:
- Sleep: You should sleep between 7-9 hours a night, every night (Ref 1). For 8 hours a night, that is 56 hours a week you should be asleep. To automate this, I have an alarm that tells me when to get ready for bed, and I try to get up every day around the same time. Make it recur daily.
- Screentime: This includes TV, phone, tablet, etc. Because I do so much at work, I only budgeted my entertainment watching and I placed it at 2 hrs a day (Ref 2), which is 14 hours. To automate this, I try to be disciplined to not watch more than 2 one hour long shows in the evenings, or more than 3 half-hour shows.
- Sitting: You should minimize the amount of time you sit for your own mortality benefits (Ref 3). Where I place this in my time budget is transportation (my 30min commute gives me 5 hours most weeks just driving to and from work) but since I drive so much on weekends, I double this to 10 hours of sitting driving.
- Work: There are studies indicating no significant increase in productivity after 50 hours a week of work...so I refuse to do any more than that (Ref 4). I budget 40 hours, but seem to do closer to 45 hours.
- Exercise: You should exercise 30min a day. This is 3.5 hours. Since I like to do long runs, I make this an even 5 hours a week (Ref 5). To automate this, I also put it into my schedule.
- This leaves a measly 33 hours to do the other fun things in life: time spent spiritually, with family, with friends, doing hobbies, chores, etc. This is the time that is most important to concentrate on. When you watch an extra TV show, decide to drive to a far off place, spend extra time at work, you steal from your values here. Think hard about this time and make the most of this time.
Here are strategies to make the most of the time you have:
- Learn about productivity strategies such as Getting Things Done, Pomodoro, Inbox Zero, and others.
- I do my best tocheck my email as few times as I have to each day (hopefully only twice). When I do, I go through every new email and either delete it, respond to it, file it, or put it in a hold pile. This keeps my emails to a minimum.
- I have left a lot of social media, and this frees up an immeasurable amount of time that I used to waste on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others.
- Every day at work, I write 3 things I want to accomplish. Those are my priorities. Some things might get added or taken away, but that is my backbone - and it gets things done.
- To minimize distractions and time, I have some apps on my phone to protect time and distractions:
- My Agent App recognizes when I am in a meeting, driving, or sleeping and appropriately adjusts sounds/notifications. It also sends a response text letting the sender know I am driving, in a meeting, or sleeping and how to contact me if it is so important.
- My Gravity app saves my phone buttons and battery life by automatically turning the phone off or on at appropriate times.
There are many ways to budget your money. I have tried several but have only found one to work for me - a spreadsheet. I love the idea behind the envelope system, and I hope to have that as part of my site someday, but for now, I have not found a good solution I like (GoodBudgetcomes close). For this reason, I budget my money using a spreadsheet from Vertex42. I find this spreadsheet to do all I want. I can budget out the year, and once a month, I enter in all my transactions from the previous month for improved accuracy. This is automated with a calendar reminder.
As much as possible, I have all my payments automated as well. My credit cards are paid every month, utilities, internet, Netflix, etc. In this way, I do not have to think about them on a recurring basis, but I do have a chance to review them once a month to assure no errors.
As for automation, I use Mint.com and its appto help me stay on top of my money situation on a day to day level.
I am convinced that in today's world, for people to remain weight neutral or to lose weight, they must count calories. I find that the app, MyFitnessPal, handles this best.
There are activity trackers you can use as well to improve on your calorie expenditure (I use RunKeeperand Garmin), but I think these are less important.
While it has been argued that the most effective diet is to eliminate all junk food, I think the easiest lifestyle healthy diet is: Portion control, eating less processed foods, not drinking carbonated beverages, avoid fake foods (artificial sweeteners, imitation cheese/butter, etc) (Ref 6).
- Cai H1, Shu XO1, Xiang YB2, Yang G1, Li H2, Ji BT3, Gao J2, Gao YT2, Zheng W1. Sleep duration and mortality: a prospective study of 113 138 middle-aged and elderly chinese men and women. Sleep. 2015 Apr 1;38(4):529-36. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4564.
- Stamatakis E1, Hamer M, Dunstan DW. Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: population-based study with ongoing mortality and hospital events follow-up.J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 Jan 18;57(3):292-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2010.05.065.
- Biswas A, Oh PI, Faulkner GE, Bajaj RR, Silver MA, Mitchell MS, Alter DA. Sedentary time and its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, and hospitalization in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Jan 20;162(2):123-32. doi: 10.7326/M14-1651.
- Pencavel, J. (2014), The Productivity of Working Hours. The Economic Journal. doi: 10.1111/ecoj.12166
- Gebel K1, Ding D2, Chey T2, Stamatakis E3, Brown WJ4, Bauman AE2. Effect of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity on All-Cause Mortality in Middle-aged and Older Australians. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Apr 6. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.0541.
- Mozaffarian D1, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jun 23;364(25):2392-404. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1014296.