Guiding your life’s biggest financial moments

Personal Finance

9 tips for better time management in retirement

At 59, Nancy A. Shenker changed her life. She donated most of her assets, moved from New York to Arizona, and began to focus on writing and public speaking in addition to the marketing consulting that had dominated her professional career. She wanted to create a more intentional life, with flexibility for travel, exercise, education, and visits with her grandchildren. She calls this “pre-retirement”.

Then last year, a client gave her a huge project as she was heading out of town to see her family, which overshadowed the entire trip.

“I’ll never get that time back,” says Shenker, now 64. “Balancing work and life is still a challenge, even though I’m no longer part of the corporate hamster wheel. “

Whether fully or partially retired, some people are busier in their later years than when they were working full time. Where is that feeling of quiet ease that retirees have been anticipating all their working lives? How do you make the most of the precious days and hours that seem to go by faster as they get older?

“Managing an abundance of time is as difficult as managing a shortage of time, because it forces you to ask yourself what matters to you,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 hours: you have more time than you think (Wallet, $ 18) and Off the clock: feel less busy while doing more (Wallet, $ 25).

Productivity and Time Management Experts Like Vanderkam Say You Can Recover Your Retirement With These Nine Tips For Better Time Management.

Before retirement, most people find meaning in their accomplishments. They equate keeping busy with meaning and importance, and may start to question their identity or worth if their days aren’t full.

“There’s this existential void for some retirees,” says Emily Esfahani Smith, author from Washington, DC The power of meaning (Crown, $ 25). “So many of their old roles and identities are changing or being taken away. It’s (losing) all of these things at once that makes life more empty.

Instead of, there is a tendency to recreate the experience of being busy multitasking, which simply stresses the brain. “It’s a huge source of chronic low-level stress,” which has a much greater impact on our health and well-being in our 40s and 50s, says Christine Carter, senior researcher at the Greater Good Science Center of the United States. ‘UC Berkeley and author of The sweet spot: how to accomplish more while doing less (Ballantine Books, $ 17).

Multitasking loads your brain with cognitive overload, which Carter calls a “guzzler” for burning oxygen and blood sugar. While this generates the emotional experience of productivity, “it’s toxic to the brain,” she says. “As we get older, we want to challenge the brain, but we don’t want to tax it. “

For brain health in your old years, you should learn new things and practice recall, but do them one at a time so that you can focus more deeply and more comfortably on the task at hand. When you multitask, your brain stops accessing the hippocampus, where memories are created and stored.

“If you think you are having memory loss, it might be because you are multitasking too much,” Carter says.

Retirement is the time to make a difference, so assess your meaning and value to others. Then prioritize what matters most.

Each week, Adela Crandell Durkee, of Oakwood Hills, Ill., Reflects on how she can put her priorities – family, faith, a career as a writer and being a good citizen of the world – first. . “It’s so important, or my life can be taken up with chores,” says Durkee, 69.

Vanderkam recommends listing 100 dreams of things you would like to do. Some might be worthy of a list, like visiting Africa, while others can be more mundane, like having a family photoshoot. You’ll have to dig to list 100 different ideas, which is the gist.

It’s one thing to list those 100 things and quite another to do them all. “You could challenge yourself to do one every two weeks, a big one every two months,” says Vanderkam.

As you prioritize the things that matter, you’ll naturally find that you have less time to waste on the more mundane or everyday items.

“We can spend time without thinking about any phase of life, and that’s the biggest problem. ” Asking yourself how you would like to spend your time increases the chances that you are spending it the way you want, she says.

You may find that doing something on a regular basis, like volunteering or doing a hobby, provides a necessary structure for your days and weeks. Or, as you get involved in your church or nonprofit community, seeing the same people regularly have new, meaningful relationships.

“As people live longer and healthier lives, there are those decades in the last third or quarter of life that can be very productive. This stage of life can be defined by play, exploration and giving back to the community., says Smith

Don’t fill your entire week with commitments. You want to create that sense of leisure, which is your reward after a long career, by locking in some downtime on your schedule.

Durkee likes to let his mind wander on long walks, gardening, and bike rides. “Daydreaming tends to be a very nourishing activity for me.”

A whole new level of fulfillment can come simply from slowing down, says Smith. “Sometimes that means embracing boredom or embracing empty time.”

Rest is especially important as our bodies age and we need more recovery time.

“When I can really rest and take a break, I can hear what my body is asking of me,” says Mia Birdsong, author from Oakland, Calif. How we present ourselves: reclaiming family, friendship and community (Hachette Go, $ 17).

The flip side of saying yes to your priorities is setting limits on the things you don’t like. Create a huge to-do list and include all of your obligations, suggests Carter. Then cross out anything you don’t want to do or fear doing.

“For the things you dread but have to do, like laundry, see if you can delegate them to someone else,” she says.

You may be able to swap chores with a family member. Or if all else fails, combine the dreaded element with a pleasant element, like folding laundry while listening to an audiobook. (You don’t experience the cognitive overload associated with multitasking if you combine a physical task with a cognitive task.)

Consider allotting a limited window of time, perhaps one day a week, for common but necessary tasks of life, like renewing your driver’s license or calling salespeople.

Try pushing these things back to a block of time so you don’t feel like it’s still an option., so you don’t feel guilty, ”Vanderkam says.

Think about your ideal daily and weekly schedule. How often do you want to be social? What time do you want to be home and in bed to feel rested the next day? Respect your own limits by setting and sticking to them. “Be aware of what makes you feel really good,” Carter says.

Remember, we are all used to believing that our value is in what we can produce and accomplish. Retirement is a good time to let go of this lie.

“We don’t have to demonstrate our worth. Our value is inherent in who we are, ”says Birdsong.

Prepare to disappoint people who want to see you more than you would like or ask you to do things you are not interested in.

“You are not responsible for other people’s emotions,” Carter says. “You make choices based on your own well-being.

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