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Why Time Management is Important in Retirement

Updated on December 8, 2011

Some workers’ ultimate ambition is retirement, retirement creeps up on others suddenly, and yet others dread retirement. However, retirement comes to everyone. Some British employers run pre-retirement courses, for employees nearing retirement, to teach them how to manage their time. This may seem counter-intuitive; time management, planning, and giving tasks a relative priority order, are surely working skills, not retirement skills, but you should plan and manage your retirement. The priorities that you set for yourself will be very different to those that were important, when you were working, but the skills that you use in managing your time will be similar.

Many people define themselves by their job title and, when they no longer have that title, they may feel that they themselves have disappeared as a person. Many people having looked forward to their retirement miss the social element to work, seeing colleagues and meeting clients. Others miss the limits and boundaries that work provides, and others simply feel lost, with too much time on their hands and miss the busy activity and satisfaction that work brings.

All these feelings can lead to stress, hopelessness, sadness and depression, which is why no one should just drift into retirement. People plan for other stages in their lives, they plan their careers, for getting a first home, their marriages, children, and for when the children leave home, and retirement is simply another stage in life, which requires careful planning.

Planning your time in retirement is important, for the first time, you are free to plan your life and your time. During your working life, outside constraints largely determined how you spent your time, in retirement you determine how you will spend all your time. Instituting a routine, in retirement, is an important factor, because it will replace the structure that work gave to your life, however, it is important not to become a slave to that routine. Establish a routine, by all means, but make it adaptable, so that you can take advantage of all that life has to offer and that, if an unexpected opportunity arises you can grab it. A routine allows you to organize yourself effectively, to do a little ‘work’, fulfill household and family obligations and still have fun and joy in your life. Your routine should be flexible rather than rigid, spontaneity is something that you can embrace wholeheartedly in retirement and makes life interesting and exhilarating.

What do you want achieve and accomplish? What would you like to see, experience or do? What were all those things, for which you did not have time, when you were working? Write a list, writing a ‘to do’ list might seem alien to retirement, and more akin to working life but it is a good way to crystallize your thinking and stop you drifting.

Set yourself some realistic personal goals, not forgetting learning opportunities, whether you want to do pottery, learn a new skill, see the Terracotta army, or whatever it is that you want to do, you now have the time to do so. Think about the things that you need to do to stay physically and mentally healthy and allow time and space to do these things. Exercise is obviously important to maintain physical health, but you need to do things that help you to maintain mental health also. In most workplaces, there is a wide range of age groups, amongst the workers, from youngsters fresh from school, right through to people nearer to your own age. It is necessary in retirement to maintain contact with people of all ages, and not to remove yourself from contact with those not in your own age group. Keep in touch with the young to keep your mind young.

You may have knowledge that young people need, in one project, older men are teaching and showing young men do it yourself skills. It could be that your young neighbour would like to learn to knit, or crochet or the local primary school would like you to go and help with reading skills or to give first hand knowledge of childhood and school in “the Olden Days”.

You still need involvement, achievement and growth in retirement. You have not changed, but retirement means that how you incorporate these vital ingredients into your life must change, and you must think creatively about how to include them into your life during retirement. You may want to learn, a useful organization for those who want to continue learning in retirement is the University of the Third Age, initially a United Kingdom organization, but now active in many countries around the World. Also in the United Kingdom, Saga, originally a magazine for the over fifty fives, now provides good deals for goods and services such as insurance, travel, financial services and many other services for the over fifties, the magazine is very helpful, too.

When planning your retirement, you should not do so in isolation but consult your spouse, or partner, and allow them some input. By planning and managing your time in retirement, you will be a happier, healthier and more fulfilled person. You may actually be busier than you ever were at work but more yourself than you have ever been.

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