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12 Best Ways for Managing Your Time in Retirement

retired couple

Retirement gives you limitless options for how to spend your time. All that free time is great, but it takes work to manage your time when you have so much of it. Preparing for retirement can be simple. These tips structure your time to make things easier and help you get more done.

1. Start the Day With Movement

Starting the day with movement helps set the pace for the rest of your day. Sitting on the couch is tempting, but you’ll feel better if you start your day with a walk or stretches. Movement prepares your mind for the upcoming day.

2. Allow for Free Time

Prepare yourself to have free time during retirement. According to data from 2021, the average American spends around 20 years in retirement. If you’re taking retirement advice from retirees, it would be about managing all of this free time. You’ll have plenty of time when you’ll find yourself with nothing to do.

Having free time is a good thing. It might seem the opposite when you’re working on managing your time, but periods of free time are good for your health. Having a lot of free time also allows you to look forward to the structure of your to-do list. Relax during your free time and know your schedule allows it, too.

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3. Get Everything Settled

Make sure you have all of your necessary end-of-life documents in order. Getting everything settled will help you plan for the future better. Keep your essential legal, medical and personal papers in a safe spot — this will also help you find them immediately when needed.

Getting things settled early in retirement prevents you from missing or losing important documents. It will also put you at ease to get these things out of the way. You manage your time better when you can plan for the future.

4. Use a Calendar

Calendars are a classic way to manage your time well. Keep your days organized by writing down any plans you might have — even if it is as simple as a trip to the grocery store. Seeing your days organized on a calendar helps you keep track of time.

Writing down events like holidays, birthdays or reunions gives you something to look forward to. Filling in the days with future plans can be a fun experience.

5. Try One Thing at a Time

Take your time and only focus on one thing at a time. It can be tempting to start everything you want to do at once, but you’ll have half-finished projects and abandoned hobbies. Focusing on one task or hobby at a time will help you structure your time better. Whatever you’re doing will likely turn out better because you gave it your full attention.

6. Break Down Big Ideas

It’s easy to retire with a lot of big plans, but it’s easier to tackle those plans if they’re broken down to be small plans. For example, retirement is the perfect time to start woodworking if you’ve always wanted to. However, the goal of beginning woodworking is too complex. Instead, you’d break it down into getting the right tools, making a birdhouse and hanging the birdhouse up.

Breaking down your big ideas makes your goal clear and easy to manage. You’re able to get more done because you have specific and small steps. This also makes it easier to stay motivated. Eventually, you’ll accomplish your big plan.

7. Structure Around Necessities

Structure your schedule around things you have to get done. For example, if you know you must get groceries once a week, plan around that time. You’d stop and run other errands while in town or treat yourself by going to the park before you got groceries.

The things you need to get done are usually fixed on your schedule, so plan other errands around them. You might also get a chance to go and do something you don’t usually do — like sitting in the park before grocery shopping.

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8. Reward Yourself

Sometimes, the things on your to-do list won’t be exciting. It helps to reward yourself when you get things done, especially if the task is unpleasant. For example, if you have a doctor's appointment, you plan to stop at a restaurant afterward. Or, if you’ve finished a painting you were putting off, you could get a special frame for it.

Attaching a reward to something you get done will help motivate you. It’s a fun way to tackle your to-do list. You’ll also be able to manage your time better because it’ll be easier to look forward to tasks.

9. Set a Day To Get Things Done

Structuring your time will help you manage it. It’s easy to let the days fly by when you do the same thing every day. Mix things up by doing certain things on certain days. For example, you’d set Wednesday as the day you go out for brunch with your friends and Saturday as the day you run errands.

This gives you something to look forward to and helps you keep track of the days. You can also do this for longer periods of time. If you have something you do once a month — like getting your hair cut or styled — make it happen around the same time every month. This helps you keep things in perspective.

10. Create Physical Reminders

It’s easy to write something down on a sticky note and forget about it. Keeping physical reminders of things you want or need to do will help you manage your time. If you love to paint, keep your canvas and brushes on a table you always pass. You could also put your shoes, keys and wallet beside your bed as a reminder to leave the house.

Pictures, magnets, alarms or physical objects will help you recall things you want to get done. A physical reminder puts the task front and center in your mind. 

11. Find a Pattern

Managing your time in retirement will be easier if you find a pattern in your schedule. Do you always put off running errands until Monday? Do you tell yourself you’ll do something every week but only do it every two weeks? Look for these patterns and change your schedule to accommodate them.

Even if you want to structure your time a certain way, you will naturally get into a flow that feels most comfortable. If running errands on the weekend isn’t working for you, you can move your errands to a different day. You are fully in charge of your time and know yourself best.

12. Make Each Day Purposeful

Finding a purpose for each day will help you stay motivated and keep track of time. When you get up in the morning, ask yourself what you want to accomplish that day. It can be as little as making a particular lunch or as big as finishing that project you’ve been putting off.

Making each day purposeful makes the time matter. Finding reasons to get up and go aside from the things on your to-do list will help you stay positive and manage your time.

Enjoy Retirement

You’ll spend a while in retirement, so you should enjoy it. Managing your time gives you the flexibility to relax without wondering if you need to be getting anything done. These time management tips are great for structuring your schedule

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