In recent months, as I’ve struggled with managing time in retirement, I’ve realized that it’s not so much about how I manage time as it is about how I manage choices.
In 2010, when newly retired, I felt like a kid in a candy store. There were so many options for retirement happiness. I was free from routines, obligations, and schedules. With an empty calendar I said ‘yes’ to almost any interesting activity, challenge, and hobby.
Staying involved with the world, caring for my health, and keeping my mind active guided decisions.
I started this blog and learned the basics of Word Press. I accepted numerous invitations for membership on not-for-profit boards. I got involved with committees in my church. I joined not one, but two, book clubs. I began to play bridge with a small group, first as a substitute, and soon as a regular player. I attended a weekly knitting group to re-learn knitting skills. I made time for regular exercise at my club and began to meet gym, yoga and pool friends for lunch at the club’s restaurant after exercise. I dedicated myself to cooking and eating nutritious meals. I spent hours developing a shade garden at our cottage and maintaining our perennial and veggie garden at home. Interspersed with all of this was time for travel, time for entertaining, and time for our grand-daughter after her birth three years ago.
Writing this list confirms how the collateral damage of trying to do too much eventually discouraged and overwhelmed me. I needed to re-assess how I was spending precious retirement years.
It took months to realize that many of the activities and hobbies that I had chosen in the early phase of retirement were not as fulfilling as I hoped. Attending meetings and spending hours in various board rooms had filled my days when working. Why was I repeating this in retirement?
To find retirement happiness, I needed to take responsibility for the choices that filled my time. I also needed more free time. I had to re-organize my schedule to maximize happiness from each chosen activity.
Sorting out which activities to keep created a dilemma. Since I have only one life and one retirement, identifying priorities took serious thought. I began by resigning from most boards and committees. Shelving those obligations freed up meeting and travel time as well as time spent reading binders full of information in preparation for meetings.
The next choice entailed a mantra that I called the ‘rule of 2’. I would not participate in more than two activities or appointments outside of the house on any day. Going to the gym counted as one activity; attending bridge counted one activity; meeting a friend for lunch counted as an appointment. The ‘rule of 2’ resulted in a more manageable schedule. It also caused me to become discerning about commitments.
Since January 2016 I’ve augmented the ‘rule of 2’ with weekly and monthly planning. A weekly overview, usually on Sunday evening, helps me to figure out how to better achieve both short-term and longer term priorities. At the beginning of each month I review and celebrate the highlights of the previous month. I consider what was not finished and why. This helps me to understand my productivity and my successes. When I accomplish very little, I’m able to assess why and self-correct.
I’ve tried not to become maniacal about the schedule nor too focused on productivity. Rather, I try to spend time on current life priorities. For example, because making time for de-cluttering, purging, and moving to a smaller house is a key 2016 priority for my husband and me, I commit several hours each week to take me closer to achieving this important outcome.
I understand that I won’t finish everything on the schedule. I’m also realizing that everything takes longer than planned.
Making better time management choices for a fulfilling and happy retirement remains a challenge. I struggle with time stealers like spending too many hours on email or social media. I feel guilty when I goof off too often. A mindset focused on productivity sometimes prevents me from engaging in activities of pure fun.
With this awareness, I try to cut myself some slack. I have only one retirement. I’m determined to fill each day with inspirational, satisfying and interesting choices. I’ll use every helpful technique to manage choices of how I spend precious retirement time.
You can see what I wrote about coping with time constraints and over-commitment in earlier posts by clicking these links.http://postworksavvy.com/respect-speed-limits-in-life/; http://postworksavvy.com/respect-the-speed-limits-of-life-part-2/;http://postworksavvy.com/managing-the-speed-limits-of-life-interim-assessment/
I know that postworksavvy readers are involved in many retirement activities. What have you learned to about how to manage time and manage choices?