Why My Retirement Time Management is a Big Deal

I did not retire so that all my newly found free time could get frittered away in front of the boob tube or playing pc solitaire.  And I certainly did not retire just so I could get buried under a pile of new chores.  That’s where retirement time management comes in to save the day… literally.  Check it out. **********                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Retirement fun time doesn't just happen.

Retirement fun time doesn’t just happen.

How is one’s time to be spent in retirement on a day-to-day basis? There’s no job anymore to impose a set structure on the day. No compulsory wake-up time. No set lunch break. The difference between weekdays and weekends blurs. Every day is wide open. Or is it? And is that all good or does it present new problems?

I’ve been experimenting for 14 years now to find my ideal answers to the question of how to spend my time when I don’t have to account to anyone else for how I do that. I’ve developed some retirement time management answers that work for me. And I’ve dealt with some misconceptions about time in retirement that I think would apply to anyone.

It’s not true that every day is wide open. I do wake up any time I want. And I can pretty much organize my day any way I want. I can even just go with the flow of an unorganized day. But I cannot do that day after day. Because, even without a job obligation, there are a considerable number of things one has to do to keep one’s household functioning and one’s life on course. The bills have to be paid. The truck has to be kept running. The stock portfolio has to be monitored. The dishes have to be washed. The broken door latch has to be replaced. There is always a plentiful flow of work that still needs to be done even in retirement.

It’s not true that fun things to do are just going to jump out at you constantly. For me, at first, just not having to event think about a job was in itself great fun. Like having a very extended weekend or an open-ended stay-at-home vacation. I did whatever I felt like doing at any given moment. But in a surprisingly short time, I started losing my “fun momentum.” No, the phone didn’t ring off the hook with friends asking me out to do stuff. No, fun events did not just jump up at me off the newspaper. I found out that, even in retirement, you have to plan your fun or miss out on having it.

And – even more troubling to me at the time – I found out that, if I didn’t make plans to have fun, then chores and task projects were more than happy to fill in the vacuum and take up my time. Either that or the boob tube.

Getting organized saved my day. Scheduling and time planning – habits that I had perfected during my job years – fixed it all for me. These habits allowed me to have a time for everything and get everything done at its proper time. Job time management worked for me. And so does retirement time management.

Two simple ideas – time allocation and lists – form the basis of my retirement time management protocol. By putting those ideas into action, I am able to spend most of my time doing things I enjoy while still taking care of everything that “has” to be done.

I use a week-long daily time template that allows for 5 hours a day to be spent on chores and tasks – and limits their doing to those 5 hours. The rest of each day gets left open for “me” time. And one day a week gets left totally open, with no task time at all.

I couple that week-long time template with a list of tasks to do and a menu of fun things I can plan to do. Each day’s task time is then filled from the to-do list, while the day’s open time is filled from the fun menu. Chores that should be done are not neglected. But there’s no getting overwhelmed with “work.” And there’s no allowance for boredom. It’s perfect.

Now, once a week I rough out a game plan for how I will spend my next 7 days. The chores and projects on my to-do list most needing to be done get penciled into and distributed across the week’s daily 5-hour task time blocks. Taking into account the extended daily weather forecast for the coming week, I then mix and match activities and entertainments from my fun menu into the open balance of each day. And I keep the tasks contained to their assigned time block to make sure I get my fun.

And that’s why retirement time management is such a big deal to me. It lets me have my fun while avoiding guilt and chaos. A big deal, indeed.

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image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. Time is as precious (more, really) than money. We take great care making sure our money is spent in either an efficient or profitable way, it makes sense that our time should be spent just as wisely. And, it’s impossible to do that without some sort of plan.

    Retired or not, we need to make sure we’re making good use of our time.

    Wish I was as organised as you! :-)

  2. I came across this quote after I retired: Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. – Sigmund Freud
    There is a huge responsibility in managing retirement time without the construct of work using up a good portion of the waking hours. So many people ask, “What do you DO?” and I think part of that question is really the asker wondering what he/she would do with that time. One of the biggest freedoms is not having to punch the clock. A second freedom is the ability to say yes to invitations without the constraint of preparing to go to work the next day. I’ve been retired for 2 years now and there hasn’t been one “boring” day. That word is not in my vocabulary. And in the words of a sister-in-law, there’s always a long list of things left undone. Now there’s no excuse!

  3. Been a silent follower of this blog for awhile now. I am slowly making my way towards FIRE with 3 young kids and this post and others resonate with me. I plan on being productive post fire, and I am envious of the freedom you have earned to structure your time and the way you do it. Hopefully in 6 years or so, I will be able be in the position to own my time, in the meantime posts like these keep me motivated.

    1. Hello, Mike. Thanks for the kind words. Just remember the trick is to retire TO something, not FROM something. Good luck.

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