A month ago I resolved to apply some basic time management techniques to deal with the ‘speed limits’ of my life. I found myself rushing through every day instead of enjoying the relaxed lifestyle I had imagined before retiring. I needed to set ‘speed limits’ for myself.
As is the case for many people, retirement did not mean slowing down. In fact, retirement brought a new set of internally driven productivity demands along with a lingering achievement orientation.
From talking with friends it seems that many people, especially women, need to set speed limits after retirement. To often we re-create a lifestyle similar to the one left at the office. Instead of career commitments, we have a schedule filled with volunteering, exercise, hobbies, and caring for grand-children. We take on too many projects. This fills each day with commitments with little time for relaxation.
It’s been one month since I resolved to develop daily, weekly, and seasonal schedules to better manage time. To understand what happened with this planning, I developed simple metrics so that I would have data on which to base decisions about what I needed to change. Here is what I’ve learned:
- As expected, I try to do more than time allows. My daily and weekly schedules are full. Because I have too many projects to undertake, a review of priorities is indicated.
- I neglected to schedule enough free time for goofing off or relaxing. In the next month, I’ll try to have more slack in my schedule.
- The schedule protected time for writing and exercise. Writing and exercise are important in my life. I’m reluctant to stop scheduling these important activities but I wonder whether I can cut gym time to from five to three days per week and continue to maintain good physical health.
- I spent precious, unplanned time resolving IT issues. I did not grow up with the technology I use nor is it intuitive. I’ll have to figure out how to cut some slack for IT-related problems.
- During the month I achieved a good balance between ‘must do’ and ‘nice-to-do’ activities. Many of the ‘must do’ activities took more time than I allowed, especially cooking and driving. The mundane routines and activities that are requirements for maintaining a house and a family take time and are not always pleasant!
- There was enough flexibility in the schedule for family time, bridge games, and knitting. During the month we had two lovely family weekends at the cottage. We completed the seasonal work of cleaning up the leaves and putting away summer furniture while working at a relaxed pace. I give myself a gold star for not compromising family time!
- Scheduling 10 hours in one week to complete a big project like thoroughly cleaning all kitchen cupboards worked well. This job had been put off for too long. I set aside 2 hours each day and tackled the cupboards before I did other things. I won’t have a big project every week, but finishing a big project needs either small chunks of scheduled time or a bootcamp approach — like a whole weekend!
- I did not allow for important, yet unplanned time. A meeting with our financial advisor led to other meetings plus review time. All of this was necessary, but time-consuming. As a result, two other projects remain on the ‘to do’ list.
Tracking time, scheduling each day, and making a weekly plan has helped me to understand how I’m spending my time. At the end of a month, there is a sense of accomplishment which is boosts self-esteem.
I still rush against time every day but I am gaining knowledge of how I use my time. With the preparations for December holidays, I know that I’ll be doubly challenged in this second month of time tracking.
All of us need purposeful and meaningful activity with a good mix of intellectual and physical activity. Determination to manage time during retirement is not unique to this postworksavvy blogger. We want time to attend to relationships and take part in the wider society.
Retirement gives the gift of time. Each of us will need to find ways to use every day effectively! I hope you enjoyed reading this update. If you like my blog,please consider becoming a subscriber to receive regular email updates when I publish new posts.