Auditing your Time

30 10 2012

I’ve got a problem.

In one month, I’m scheduled to take the Chartered Financial Analyst Level 1 exam. In case you’re not familiar with them, the CFA exams are reputed to be the most difficult exams in the finance field, requiring a mastery of a vast amount of material across several disciplines, including:

-Accounting & Financial Statement Analysis

-Economics

-Securities (Equity and Fixed Income)

-Portfolio Management

-Derivatives

-Options

-Technical Analysis

-Quantitative Analysis

-Alternative Investments

-Ethics

… and a dozen things I’m sure I’m forgetting.

The pass rate is around 40%.

I’m only halfway through the curriculum.

It’s time for an audit… a time audit.

My buddy Aaron Posehn conveniently linked this article from the Art of Manliness blog- Be the CEO of Your Life: Using Resource Allocation to Become the Man You Want to Be. The article suggests using principles from accounting to evaluate your use of time, money and other personal resources.

At the moment, it’s looking like time is the critical factor. While I haven’t done a formal analysis yet, my back-of-the-envelope look at my time usage points to a few things I spend too much time doing, which could be “cut out” in order to increase the amount I have available to focus on the CFA:

1. Internet Surfing. The internet is both the bane and the joy of my existence. My internet use habits have cost me untold time… and yet, it’s time that I’ve spent imbibing vast amounts of (interesting) information… and keeping in touch with a network of friends around the world. But some things will just have to go.

2. Eating. I’m a slow eater. Really slow. And I usually combine slow eating with time-sink #1… which is another drain on productivity. Not even checking my e-mail until I’ve finished off my morning oatmeal would probably be a good start.

3. Cooking. I love to cook. After board gaming (which I gave up in anticipation of my grad-school time crunch), cooking is probably my favorite hobby (and one that makes the Wuster very, very happy). But between the chopping and the cleaning, it’s simply too time consuming right now. I have a feeling that I’m going to be keeping the Mealbay delivery guys busy this November.

4. Games. While I gave up board gaming temporarily, and my days of pouring hours into games of Civilization or Total War are years behind me, I can still find myself sucked in to various mobile device timewaster games. These had best be going- I should start preloading all my class assignment PDFs onto my iPad to make better use of my commute time.

In addition, some other things will need to be reduced as well. I’ll be ending my Chinese tutoring until December- my only Chinese classes will be the weekly class at Hult. I’ll probably need to skip the Royal Asiatic Society lectures as well until after December 1st. And, aside from essential extracurriculars (like my duties as a VP in the Hult Finance Club), most of my socializing will probably be limited to lunchtime. Finally, I’ll have to devote some time to Angela- but fortunately, she understands how difficult the CFA is- she has quite a few friends who work for Deloitte and have pursued the certification. That’s it for my preliminary audit. Now time to try a more formal one. We’ll look at the results in a week.

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