For a time in life that’s supposed to start with saying goodbye to agendas and schedules and very quickly move on to being permanently on vacation, it’s hard to imagine why time management might come up as a topic of interest for retirees.
And yet, it does come up fairly often. Why is that?
Well, for starters, retirement can free up a significant amount of time. The average full-time worker who fully retires will immediately find themselves with about 2,000 extra hours a year where their job used to be.
And sure, you want to use some of those hours to pursue some of the sweeter things that you always pictured doing: sleeping in, reading the entire newspaper, puttering around the garage/house/garden, and relaxing over beverages with old friends. (Not to mention cruises, vacations, and road trips.)
But as every kid with a giant bag of Hallowe’en candy on November 3rd can tell you, a steady diet of the sweet things in life can get a bit tiring after a while.
Turns out, most of us are happiest when our days are balanced between time for commitments and to-do lists, and doing-what-you-want free time. Too much scheduled time, and we’re harried and stressed (sounds familiar). But too much free time and we’re restless, possibly bored, and maybe even wondering if the 9-5 wasn’t so bad after all.
So how do you figure out the right balance between being busy doing things, and well, just being?
The answer comes in three parts. First getting to know our passions and interests. Second, managing how many commitments we take on. And third, using a light hand to block out time for both.
Mirror, mirror on the wall…
To know our passions and interests, a little reflection is in order. Try pondering these questions:
- What am I really curious about?
- What do I care about most?
- What makes me feel alive and energized when I’m doing it?
- What was the last time I was involved in something and time just flew by?
- What am I naturally good at?
If journaling is your thing, you could try writing out some of your responses. Or you could chat with a close friend or family member to help work out your answers.
Now pick out one or two that stand out for you, that you’d like to look into a bit more. There are umpteen ways to do that – through learning, volunteering, joining a club or community, even pursuing a second career. Whatever it is, remember the most important thing: There are no wrong answers.
If something doesn’t work, or stops feeling like a good fit, you can always move on to something else. That’s the joy and freedom that comes with having more time in your schedule.
Since you’re retired now, do you think you could…
Society is obsessed with being productive. That’s why some of us struggle with walking away from the world of work and productivity to do…what exactly?
It’s perfectly reasonable to take some time to figure out what you want to do in retirement, maybe by pondering some of the questions above. And it’s also to be expected that a person’s answers may change as they grow and explore.
Meanwhile, well-meaning friends and family may be concerned with what they see as signs of someone at loose ends. Suggestions of ways to occupy your time could soon follow:
- Volunteering at the community centre?
- Having the grandchildren during the summer holidays?
- Finally renovating the kitchen?
Nothing wrong with any of that, of course. Being able to help others is part of the joy of being retired.
But combine uncertainty about what to do with a lot of free time to do it in, and a person may find themselves with a schedule full of commitments and little time left to pursue their own interests.
Getting it all in one place
Armed with ideas about the passions you’d like to explore in your free time, and the different commitments you also want to make time for, you’re ready to try putting together a schedule.
No need to worry about returning to the old days of tracking your time by the half hour. Most of the time, organizing your activities on a daily and weekly basis (other than appointments and other commitments, of course) will likely be enough.
The key is to balance your commitments with the projects and pursuits that make your heart sing.
Beyond that, it’s up to you – online schedule, to-do list, kitchen wall calendar, there are many options. There’s sure to be one or maybe a combination of a couple that will suit you best, and trial and error will help you find it.
It all comes down to balancing priorities
Like the t-shirt says: Being retired means being able to do what you darned well please… except when there are other things you need to do!
This time of our lives can bring a lot of free time and countless ways to use it. Making sure you regularly dedicate some of your new-found time to activities that make your heart sing is key to a fulfilling retirement.
Looking for other ideas on having a fulfilling retirement? Check out what we have to offer under Services.
©North Star Retirement Coaching