The Basics: How to Score

"WIN" footballThis weekend I was over-scheduled, and I came out of it wondering how I had managed to avoid posting another entry for the whole weekend. But at least that wonderment lead to this reminder:

Whether you’re managing your time, your money, or your calories, the basics come down to:

  1. Become conscious and intentional about your “spend” (dollars spent, activities by the quarter-hour, food consumed).
  2. Reduce your spend to less than you’re earning (income, “free” time, calories burned). Failing that, increase your earnings to more than you’re spending: get a side job or sell some items you’ve been hoarding, exercise more. We haven’t really found a way to get more hours in the day yet.

This is life’s scoreboard. You can get by without keeping score, and you probably won’t have much fun if you try and keep score of everything, but if there’s an area you want to improve on, keeping score is indispensable.

Before trying to make any non-trivial changes in step 2, take a deep breath and find a way to track your spending. There are websites and mobile apps that will help you log every little spend as it happens, but you do have to make it a habit. You can even start with a generic note-taking app, such as Evernote, before getting lost in the plethora of dedicated app choices out there.

Even the simple act of documenting your activities can highlight easy “wins”, without going much further. And without documentation or some kind of measurement, none of the expert advice is going to do much good—if you don’t know how you’re doing, it’s nearly impossible to figure out how to do better. Or as they say in management, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Once you have a firm grasp on what you are doing now, you can figure out what you need to do differently to reach your goal, to win. And if you don’t want to do anything differently, it’s time to re-evaluate what you thought was your goal.

—jhunterj

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