The passing of a loved one tends to bring certain things into perspective. Recently my Father-in-law passed away so my wife and I have gotten much more involved with helping my mother-in-law. My mother and father-in-law have always said how busy they are in retirement; something my wife and I had a hard time understanding until now.
Time management in our retirement years is equally if not more important than it was while we were working. Simple things like trying to plan an outing can be overwhelming. “Let’s go out to lunch”, can often be met with a list of all the things that have to be done. “I have a doctor’s appointment I have to get ready for”. That appointment could be a couple of weeks off. The long list of “chores” can prevent putting any enjoyable activities on the calendar. In fact, one researcher found retirees have much more enjoyment when they had the freedom to have “free” time if they chose.
Feeling Overwhelmed and Stressed
A major contributor to feeling overwhelmed by tasks may be the fact that we start to experience physical limitations and worry that moving a bit slower will make it more difficult to complete the things we need done. You may have a parent or you yourself may have said, “I’m not getting around as well as I used to.” Being aware of a perceived failing health and mobility can have an impact on our belief in our capabilities.
Family members or caregivers, can help our loved ones feel more in control of their lists of tasks and lack of time by:
- Offering help – First of all don’t make the mistake of assuming an offer to take care of tasks will be helpful. This kind gesture can remove a sense of control. Instead, ask how you might help? Are there things on your list you would like me to do?
- Try to prioritize – Getting prescriptions refilled or scheduling doctor’s appointments while certainly are important they're not necessarily urgent. It may help to set up an auto-refill plan with the pharmacy. You can also ask medical providers to send reminder cards for appointments to relieve some stress.
- Take a minute to look at a calendar together – The act of marking things on a calendar or counting off days until an event can help reduce feelings of stress.
Sometimes it is as easy as a family member understanding a senior’s difficulty with time management stress.
Most of you would agree that volunteers are the backbone of our culture: people helping people. Undoubtedly sometime during your life you received help from others, and our conscience steers us to help others in a spirit of “paying forward”. Some of the strongest, active volunteers are seniors. The problem is we are prone to overload ourselves and unfortunately create stress and imbalance. You’ve worked for decades and raised a family and you’ve probably worked with your church on one project or another. Just because you are retired doesn’t mean you don’t have any more work to do. But, perhaps we should, take a little extra time and go at a more relaxed pace. That “overloaded” feeling can be unhealthy.
We all lead busy lifestyles – sometimes even more so when we’re older. In our retirement we add additional activities to our schedules. Studies have shown that volunteering and staying socially active are excellent ways to help to make for a happier retirement and keep us healthier. However, if we let our schedules control our lives the exact inverse can happen.
Consider these tips in developing a good time management plan:
- Make a list of all activities: Include everything you can think of. Don’t forget exercise and rest; both make us more efficient. You don’t have to come up with everything all at once, spend a couple of days putting the list together. Make note of whether the activity occurs on a regular basis or only occasionally.
- Prioritize the list: It’s important to determine which items on the list you feel are most demanding of your attention. If you’re unsure, go to the next on the list and come back to that one later.
- You still need personal goals: Being retired doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to accomplish during this stage of your life. It’s just as important as it’s always been. Goals keep you focused and on track and will give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Now you can be flexible: Every day is a Saturday. The days of living by a rigid, inflexible schedule are over! Never be afraid to change plans when the mood or meaningful opportunity strikes.
- Write it down: There is something about writing it down that makes it that much harder to not do what you said you were going to accomplish. You’re more likely to stay on task and achieve the goals you have set for life. It really does not matter what you use to keep track of your activities and goals. It could be a planner, wall calendar or online calendar the only thing that matters is you write it down. Writing it down will help you decide whether you should take on additional activities or tasks when they are presented. You will be able to at a glance be able to tell if there is time to include it. If necessary, take time to think how the activity fits into your personal goals. If you don’t have time for it and it doesn’t advance or enrich your goals, consider passing.
One last piece of advice: Learn to say, “No.” It’s difficult, but sometimes we just need to say no. I know you don’t want to offend anyone that you may want some help from in the future. But you run the risk of becoming so scattered that you don’t meet commitments. At some point you have to be realistic. Others tend to think you have all kinds of time “You’re retired” right.
If you have found this article helpful please share it with someone else. If you have any comments or your own time management tips write them in the comments for everyone to see.