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. **********
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