Know Your Numbers

Have you ever watched Shark Tank? Honestly, it’s not a show I watch, but I’ve seen it enough to know that the Sharks are always asking about numbers.  You may even hear one say in reprimand, “You must know your numbers.” Countless pitches fall apart because contestants don’t know about revenues, expenses, profits, manufacturing costs, and projections. Mostly, they need to know the budget.

The concept of budgeting has been floating around in my head for a couple of weeks. I started to realize that a lot of success hinges on the idea of a real sound budget. Obviously, the first example could be a failed business. On a smaller scale maybe you plan on buying the next iPhone, but if you don’t know the numbers in your bank account. You don’t know the cost of the phone or other factors involved with your current contract agreement.  If this were the case, it’s possible you may get in over your head.

Another budgeting example that I am all too familiar with is budgeting food for weight loss. The concept is based on a budget whether it’s points or calories; either you have 24 points to eat in a day or a 1500 calorie allotment for the day.  You could also plan to eat a certain amount of grams of protein, fruits/vegetables, and fats in a day.  Any way you look at it, it’s a budget.

Now, let me give you one more example that might help you in school. Budgeting your time, commonly referred to as time management.  Each semester some students don’t do as well as they could simply because they have poor time management skills.  They fail to budget their time wisely.

It’s still early enough in the semester to take a good look at your plan for managing time this spring. I’m going to help you take a closer look at how you spend your day.

If I asked you, “What is the importance of the number 168?” What would your answer be? (In a classroom, I would count to ten – in my head – before I called on someone.)  Ok, so do you know the answer?  Well, 168 is the number of hours in a week.  Did you get it right?  It’s ok if you didn’t.  That’s what I’m here to talk to you about.

Let’s for a minute think about all the possible things you do in the course of a week. You eat, sleep, work, study, go to class, exercise and hang out with friends.  If you commute to school or work, you can factor time in the car too.  Your calendar is full.

I used to teach a workshop to probationary college students. Students who had one semester to pull up their grades to a particular point or be dismissed from school.  I often found their reason for failure was not ineptitude, but a lack of planning.   I would tell them the recommendation for college students is 2-3 hours of study for every 1 hour in class.  To put this in relative terms if you have three credits (hours) for a class, you should study 6-9 hours.  If you have 15 credits, then you should be studying 30-45 hours a week. At that, their eyes would pop out of their head. Some would even laugh at me. I think I can even see your eyes bulging too.  Full-time college enrollment is like having a full-time job.  As a matter of fact, you should take it as seriously as you would a full-time job.

Now that we have that disparaging fact out of the way let’s look at the possibilities for you. I’m going to ask you to think about your calendar, the hours in a day/week, and give you a tool to budget your time.  The link below is a tool from Ohio University that I found to be the best online worksheet to examine “unaccounted for” hours in your week.  These are hours that could be re-assigned to studying.  I think you may be surprised at how much time you have!

Before you begin, here are some instructions:

In the first section on Academics – be honest about the amount of time you intend on studying – per week – for each class. I’m not looking over your shoulder. You don’t need to falsify your answers.  If you will only study 1 hour for a class, write that down. Be honest.

In the second section, on Fixed Activities – remember these are hours per week. You will need to multiply by 7 in most cases.  An example of the “other” category could be exercise or working out.

I would love to hear how much flexible time you have left. Generally, I hear 20-40 hours.  Surprising, right?  And this activity factors in sleep!  Think about how you are spending that extra time.  The answer to that is often hanging with friends, games, social media, etc. These are all areas that you can commit to re-budget toward your academics.

Now you know your numbers. You have the necessary tool for successful time management.  If you would like more tips on budgeting time for a successful semester or have some tools of your own, I’d love to hear from you.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Ben Franklin


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