What are you willing to spend $100 on?
It’s a pretty reasonable price for a dinner for two, a concert ticket, a nice piece of clothing or maybe a cell phone bill.
For most of us, it’s way too much to spend on other things. You would probably never pay $100 for a pair of socks, or a bottle of olive oil. We value those things, but not $100 worth. Unless there’s some really important exception, like it’s a special bottle of olive oil that’s going to remind you and your partner of your honeymoon in Greece every time you make dinner. Or there’s a pair of really fancy $100 socks that you’ve been secretly wanting for years, and you had a great month so you decide to treat yourself.
We all have a financial budget. Even if it’s not something you actually track in a spreadsheet, you have a sense of how much money you have and how much you can afford to spend in a given day, month and year. You also have a set of internal rules that you use to decide how to spend that money. You run numbers, consider priorities and weigh outcomes. Ultimately, you decide: is [X] worth [Y] to me?
Bringing that same thought process to body budgeting can unlock better time management and diminish year-end stress—but you have to be intentional about it.
Your body budget is just as real as your financial budget.
Did you catch my last blog, about a simple experiment you do can do evaluate whether you’re using your time meaningfully? One thing I mentioned is the idea of thinking about budgeting and spending your time like you budget and spend your money.
I actually wrote about body budgeting once before too, back when we were deep in COVID mode and navigating unique time management challenges. If you haven’t heard the phrase before, “body budget” was coined by neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett in her book “How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain.”
The concept is simple: Just as your financial resources are finite, your physical and mental resources are too. Your brain is constantly budgeting your limited energy to meet your needs as well as possible.
When your body budget is balanced, you can feel like the best version of yourself. You’re rested and clear and have confidence that you’re on top of things. You can make big decisions and focus on details. Even in those moments when you’re totally drained, you know it’s a natural ebb and flow and that you’re ultimately on track to meet your goals.
When your body budget is out of balance, you spend too much energy and/or don’t generate enough energy to replenish what you spend. Your brain has to divert your limited resources to the most essential tasks only. Your heart and lungs keep working. You keep moving and functioning, and maybe you can make sure the most critical tasks get done for your business. But you’re not fully present or enjoying your life or doing the things that are going to move your business forward. You’re constantly beating yourself up about your time management and productivity challenges. You have nothing left at the end of the day and wake up feeling drained in the morning.
Balancing Your Body Budget
Paying attention to your body budget is critically important for optimal time management. It lets you make decisions that keep you in relationship to your goals. If you had to pay $5,000 for an unforeseen home repair, you might adjust your spending on other things, right? Noticing that your “body bank” is getting low lets you adjust the way you’re spending your time and energy so you can be intentional about filling it back up and moving forward with maximum resources.
Your body budget can be out of balance all year long, but your resources are stretched even thinner when you add extra stressors. Like the December crunch to wrap things up for your business before the end of the year… Christmas and other winter holidays… health problems… aging parents… and so on.
The good news is, fixing your body budget can be much easier than balancing a financial budget that’s running at a deficit.
It’s possible to make changes really quickly when you notice how different tasks and activities affect your energy resources.
Try visualizing your “body bank” being represented by one of those huge thermometer posters you might see on a wall at a school during a fundraising drive. When your body budget is balanced, the thermometer is full. The level will naturally shift throughout the day, but your objective is to notice when it gets too low and switch to activities that replenish your balance.
Things that drain your body bank include:
- Pain or physical discomfort
- Mental health challenges
- Wasting time on things that don’t feel important
Things that might replenish your body bank include:
- Food and drink
- Exercise/physical movement that feels good
- Spending time with people/animals/hobbies you love
- Time spent on work or personal tasks that feel meaningful
Remember, everyone’s wired differently. What drains and replenishes your body bank is totally personal to you—what would go on your list?
Want to Improve Your Body Budget? 3 Tips to Try!
- Track your body budget like you track your financial budget. Maybe that means drawing a literal thermometer on a whiteboard by your desk and filling it up or emptying it over the course of the day, or coming up with some other system that lets you quantify your physical and mental energy levels throughout the day. Keep track over the course of a week. What days, or times of day, do you feel the most drained? When do you feel your most energized, productive and motivated?
- Prioritize fueling yourself in your everyday routine. If you’re a busy professional trying to grow your business, taking time away from serving clients to simply enjoy yourself or fill your tank, might feel wasteful. It’s not! A little boost of dopamine can do wonders for a drained body bank. Give yourself permission to take time every day to do things that fill your tank like listening to your favorite music, catching up with a friend, or taking a quiet walk by yourself.
- Create systems to remind you/automate things that are consistent problems in your body budget. Always forget to drink water or get hangry mid-afternoon? Get a smart water bottle that tracks your consumption, and stash snacks everywhere. If there’s a time of day when you always tend to feel drained, set an alarm for just before that time to remind yourself to take positive action to rebalance your budget.
Need support with your body budget for better time management?
Even if you’re not totally sure what’s holding you back from achieving your most important work goals and having time for the personal life you crave, I can help. We can talk about what’s going on with your body budget, what you’re hoping to achieve for your business and what the specific next steps are to get you there. Sound helpful? Schedule a no-cost Strategy Session with me at a time that works for you!
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