Prioritization and budget are two key levers that help you create a balance in your schedule. Budgets limit the scheduled tasks to a maximum amount per day or per week and prioritization helps you get tasks scheduled earlier. So one pushes the other pulls!
How Budget Works
A budget is the maximum hours that SkedPal will schedule for a specific zone (or project or task) per day and/or per week. The budget can be enforced at the zone level or at the line level. For example, if you have a project that takes 20 hours to complete and you do not wish to spend more than 10 hours per week on this project, you can use budgets. Notice that a budget adds an upper limit on the scheduled hours. So, if your project has a low priority, you may get a small number of hours or even zero hours of your project scheduled in the short term.
Task Level Budget vs Zone Budget
Zones are defined at a high level. So, your entire Outline should normally fit into a few zones (3 to 5 zones.) This will help you have a bird-eye view of how you spend your time and use budgets to control the time vampires that creep into your schedule.
Nevertheless, sometimes you want to add a budget to a specific project or task not because doing more of that task or project is not valuable but because you simply can’t humanly spend more time on it. For example, you may have a high-value, high-priority writing project. If you don’t cap it with a budget, SkedPal may schedule 8 hours a day of writing for you. That could be too much for a day. This is where you need to add a line-level budget to your project.
Priority And Budget Working In Tandem
If you have a high-priority task or project, SkedPal will schedule the entire task or project as early as possible. For long tasks or projects, this might clog up your schedule for as long as need to schedule the full duration of the task or project. This is another example where line-level budgets can help curb your project and not let it take the entire day. Using Time Maps can also help if you have carved out specific hours of the day for your project.
Priority And Start Date
If you have a high-priority task or project but you don’t want to get started on it before a specific date, add a start date to its plan. This will ensure your task will not get scheduled before the start date and it will get scheduled with a high priority on or after the start date.
Setting Minimum Hours Per Day or Week
While budgets are about the maximum times per day or per week, you might wonder how to guarantee a minimum amount of time for a task or project. For example, let’s say that you have a very important task to write up a document. The task takes 20 hours to complete. Let’s say that you do not want to allocate more than 3 hours a day to this project. So, you add a budget to this task. Now, this will NOT guarantee 3 hours per day. What will help to ensure your task is scheduled 3 hours a day is to raise its priority. If your task is at the highest priority, then SkedPal will allocate the full 3 hours per day as long as your Time Maps permit.
You can also use Exclusive Bundles to guarantee a fixed amount of time on a daily or weekly basis for a specific project. The following video demonstrates an example of setting up a minimum amount of time per week to learn Spanish. In this example, a recurring bundle is set up to reserve time for non-recurring sub-tasks: