Change the Way You Look at Time for a Happy and Healthy Retirement

Time is the most valuable and elusive commodity we have — we cannot increase it, we cannot replace it — it is priceless. When we are working, time challenges us to squeeze as many tasks as possible into every minute of the day. When we retire, we expect to have all the time in the world to do the things we have always wanted. Unfortunately, if you are like most retirees, you have too many things to do and not enough time to do them.

What you do with your time can mean the difference between a satisfying and productive retirement or a constantly stressed and unfulfilled life. If we don’t asses our personal goals, rethink our concept of time and plan how we spend our time, we could end up not accomplishing half of what we had intended. Time is still a facet of a happy and healthy retirement; make a plan for how you will invest or spend each precious moment.

A New Understanding of Time After Retirement

Whether you are still working, retired, or semi-retired, you may be under the illusion that you have all the time in the world to accomplish your goals, spend time with family, enjoy relaxing hobbies and

see the world. Then one morning, you wake up to find that time and opportunities have passed you by.

There are 24 hours in a day minus seven to eight important hours of sleep at night, leaves 16 to 17 hours left for a plethora of obligations, activities and long-term goals. Most of us focus on six important areas of life to focus our time: career/work, family, health, self-care, leisure, and personal development. It is easy to see how those 16 or 17 hours are absorbed — whew, time flies. Even if you remove career/work from the equation, you still have five other areas of your life to focus on in those few waking hours.

Some retirees are stuck in time by emotional issues such as anxiety or depression as it relates to this transitional life stage. Others may feel conflicted about wanting to have a traditional retirement (100% leisure time) or opting for lifestyle changes, new careers and other defining activities that they would like to make a part of their retirement plan. If you have not learned how to manage your time schedule without the discipline and structure imposed by work, you may find it challenging to schedule time after retiring.

Time management is an essential skill you may need to brush up on so you can cut distractions, use your time wisely and enjoy a full life without stress from missing out on things you’d hoped to accomplish. Being vague about what you want to do with your time can put you at the mercy of others who will define your time by distraction or putting demands on you which affect your ability to get things done.

While you can stay busy meeting the needs of others, will these activities provide purpose and meaning in your life? How will you create your own schedule and direct your own life while managing this precious commodity we call time? Does this mean that you once again have to carry a day planner? Do you have sticky notes and to-do lists in a variety of different places? Have you organized a working space for yourself but are not sure what you want to work on?

Plan Your Leisure Time

Leisure time is important for retirees, positively influencing their happiness and sense of peace; a lack of planning can lead to boredom. Studies have recently found that retirees who manage their free time well enjoy a higher quality of life than those who do not structure their free time.

Set goals and priorities for your free time, then evaluate whether those aims are appropriate and achievable. You may not have to rigorously schedule every minute of your day, but simply organizing your tasks will help you reach your goals as they did during your working days.

Tips to Help You Manage Your “Free” Time

For a happier retirement, the key isn’t just how much free time you have to spend, it’s how you manage whatever free time you have. You can control how you spend your time after retirement by following a few of these suggestions:

  • Keep a day planner or digital calendar.
  • Set one priority per week or day that you can commit to accomplishing necessary tasks, such as bills, errands, shopping, etc.
  • Set goals for your leisure time too (i.e. I will complete one book a week or take that big trip to South America in the fall.)
  • Tell someone about your goals so they can hold you accountable.
  • Break up your to do list into small chunks of time — one to two hours or one half day to work on a project, read that book or spend time with loved ones.
  • Set priorities so you can put your time attention where it is needed to make you happier and your world a better place to live in.
  • Make your time count while you make the best of your life for the rest of your life.

Picking a Time Management System Which Works For You

Don’t get tied up in knots over making the right choices when it comes to managing your time. Even in retirement you still get more than one chance to get it right. It’s about having the freedom to structure one’s day around passions and interests that makes retirement so satisfying.

You may try smartphone apps. Perhaps it’s a pocket calendar or a fully structured schedule. Maybe you will try a wholly unstructured system. Ultimately, you should arrive at a happy medium, blending schedules, to-do lists and free-flow. Whatever time management system works for you, only time will tell.

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