Over My Shoulder: Golden Years Time Management – Retirement Requires as Much Day-planning as Life in the Workforce

by Ann Robson

One of the myths about retirement is that you’ll have all the time you ever wanted to do whatever you wanted. No more getting up at the crack of dawn to go to work. No more getting home just in time for dinner. No more spending the weekend catching up on household chores. Now you have time to spare.

Ask anyone who’s been retired more than a few months what they do with their time now and you’ll be surprised to hear they are so busy they wondered how they ever had time to work. At first, retirement seems like it should be a vacation that never ends. However, life goes on and mundane things like laundry, housecleaning, mowing the lawn and watering the garden need to be done.

On the positive side, you now have the freedom to choose when you’ll do these tasks. You can even put some things off and off and off. As with every choice you make, there are consequences, so delaying regular maintenance will eventually catch up with you. Instead of spending a reasonable amount of your time on such tasks, you’ll have to spend an inordinate amount of time.

I decided to check out “time management” as a topic on the internet. There are copious suggestions: six tips for time management; seven tips for organizing your time; 11 strategies for time management. There were suggestions for almost every category of people from students to office managers, but nothing for retirees. I was quite offended that the business types assume that once we have retired we have fallen off the grid, never to be heard from again.

I believe a case can be made for time management for those of us who are retired. We need to plan our days just as carefully as when we were in the workforce. We can’t have our golf game conflict with a doctor’s appointment. Medical engagements will become a regular part of your new life if you want to keep enjoying that life well into retirement’s “golden years;” thus, you need to plan accordingly.

In our home we have a calendar on the side of the refrigerator to record comings and goings. If something is not on that calendar, then it probably doesn’t happen. With two people who have different interests and demands, that calendar keeps us in order. Beyond that, we tend to fulfill household requirements on a regular, but not regulated, basis. Something that doesn’t get done on Monday may have to wait two or three days. That said, if it’s important to a comfortable living condition, it does get done. Social events and volunteer work can now have more of our time, so they tend to take precedence over doing the laundry.

One of the websites made the statement that time is not “just about getting things done right, but getting the right things done.” I found that to be an impressive motto. It offered suggestions for time management that appear to be universal: have a planning tool, budget time, get organized, have a strategy for scheduling, learn to delegate, practice saying “no.” I agreed with all but the getting organized step – most of my life is organized but my desk is not. I live by the motto “Creative minds are rarely tidy,” and my work desk is living proof, but my time is very well managed.

Ann Robson is the author of “Over My Shoulder: Tales of Life and Death and Everything In Between.” She can be reached at overmyshoulder@charter.net.