‘”Too much to do — too little time”
Yesterday, in the post-exercise coffee shop conversation at the gym several women lamented about how busy they were.
They complained that their retirement schedules were as over-crowded as work schedules had been. Everyone struggled to find enough time for the gym, for grand-children, for hobbies, for travel, or for volunteering. When routine household and gardening chores were added, the days became unmanageable and dissatisfying.
The idyllic retirement of relaxation, enjoying lots of free time and living in the moment seemed out of reach.
Why is time management during retirement a problem?
Quite simply — there are too many choices. The free time in retirement offers many options — and many distractions. There are so many opportunities to enjoy life: book club, tennis, bridge, volunteering, gardening, short and longer trips, grand-children, etc. etc.
It’s easy to drift through the days and weeks without focus on how time is used.
Most of us retire with no clear plan to fill the time available. We have desires and dreams but insufficient focus. Suddenly months have passed and retirement dreams are even more distant.
Conquering the Dilemma of ‘Too Many Choices’
To keep retirement dreams alive basic time management skills learned during career years need to be adapted to the retirement lifestyle.
Instead of thinking about how you use the hours of every day, focusing on what you want to achieve during retirement is essential.
Perhaps this will mean more involvement with your family, your church, your community. It could mean learning new skills or conquering the bucket list made in preparation for retirement.
Focusing on what you want to achieve means that you already know what makes you happy and what excites you. It means that you know what’s important in your life and that you are prepared to ignore.
The ‘hard’ Choices
The difficult time management choice in retirement comes from disciplining yourself to use some time each day to work on those things you want to achieve. You don’t want to be enslaved to the achievements you have identified but it’s important to stay focused.
By setting aside time for those things that make you happy you will have that feeling of accomplishment and productivity that rewards you at the end of each day. The days will feel worthwhile as you practise positive planning.
Making the ‘hard’ choices also involves saying ‘no’. While it’s difficult to say no to others, it’s sometimes more difficult to say ‘no’ to personal desires. It take discipline to avoid distractions.
By staying focused on what is important in your retirement, using the ‘no’ word will become easier. The skills used during your career and parenting years can help you.
You made hard choices that helped you get to where you are now. Just as you checked of performance goals during your career or watched your children mature with your focused parental guidance, so can you watch your retirement happiness grow as you make choices to achieve those goals and aspirations that you have for your retirement success.
Another difficult choice is deciding what to ignore. As important as understanding what you want to achieve is understanding what you are willing not to achieve.
Retirement is a time when previous expectations can be abandoned.
For example, if you don’t plan to go back to work nor to do part-time work, do you need to maintain professional credentials and professional registrations? Often these involve time (and costs) for continuing education which might be something that can be left behind.
You might also evaluate whether all of the household chores and gardening tasks are necessary. Living in s smaller space or hiring help might be options that allow you to ignore unnecessary obligations that eat up precious retirement time.
By evaluating what you can ignore you free yourself to stay focused on choices you can make for effective use of that precious time in life when time is really your own — so long as you manage it to meet your own expectations.