The Benefits of Managing Time Like a Long-Term Retiree

I am in the course of writing my second book (working title: The Time-Optimized Post-Career Life) while the marketing efforts begin for my first book The Time-Optimized Life. As the writing process gets underway, I have talked to a lot of folks who have been retired for a long time.

I found out something very interesting. Those retirees who have been in a post-career life for an extended stretch have a totally different view of time than those still in their careers. I am also discovering that individuals who live an active and vibrant retirement life have some time-optimized tips the rest of us can use to our benefit.

Let’s explore five different areas and see how those “in-career” and those “post-career” will benefit from this mindset.

Balanced Structure

Some of the hardest interviews to land that I have done for either book is those who are fully into the retirement routine. I am coming at them with something outside the norm of their regular schedule. People with a balanced structure will think long and hard about where to place activities that require them to adjust. While it was frustrating for me, it is time-optimized gold for them.

In-career: Emulate this philosophy in your busy life today. Plan out your calendar and treat each change in it as an opportunity to challenge those adjustments (particularly on the personal side, where there is more flexibility).

Post-career: Retirement life needs structure. While you have more “free” time, don’t be loose about it. Push forward an ideal retirement week that reminds you of what is important to you.

Intense Prioritization

Time-optimized retirees know what activities are important to them and make sure they are arranged at the top of their task or project list. They will think and evaluate whether to introduce something into their timetable that disrupts already established items.

In-career: Invest time setting the events of the day from the highest to the lowest. Start on the most important and try to be very rigid about doing the vital ones first. Be mindful of adding more onto your workload before having a chance to determine how it impacts what currently needs to get done.

Post-career: There will be plenty of important things to get done when the job ends. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security that you’ll have the extra time to get everything you want done. Start with essentials first.

The No is a No

As I worked to set-up interviews with retirees, I was surprised to learn that I heard a lot of, “Nope, that’s not going to work.” In fact, the word “no” was used easily and frequently.

In-career: Learning to use “no” in a professional setting is a gateway to time control and productivity. If you have a solid schedule and understand the work you need to get done, you’ll be afforded the ammunition needed to start using a strategic “no.”

Post-career: People in your life may automatically assume you are available because you have more personal time. Start early in retirement life by learning to say “no” if you feel pressured to get involved in things that fall outside your planned lifestyle.

Goal Oriented

I was excited to see that so many of the long-term retirees I talked with had very important goals to accomplish. They are an active part of everyday life, and they energize the lives of those in a post-career life.

In-career: Goal setting is necessary, both professional and personal. The two should be intertwined so they are looked at as just life goals. Lacking ambitions will lead to time management challenges in so many other areas of life.

Post-career: Do not wait until you start retirement to start setting goals. Work on them well before the career ends to start out post-career life with lifestyle focus.

Personal Care Awareness

“Yes, I plan to try pickleball.” Wow, I have to say that a lot to active retirees. Physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing are important concepts to time-optimized senior citizens. It is ingrained in everyday life.

In-career: Right now, if you are having a hard time taking care of yourself, start small. Increase your sleep by 1-hour increments until you can get to at least seven. Take a break during the day and step away from the work area. Try and workout at least 30-minutes three times and week and increase that as you feel more comfortable.

Post-career: See the in-career above and add personal care as a part of your balanced structure.

The life of an active retiree can be very structured and configured. It leads to patterns of behavior that warrant evaluation before a change is made. Whether you are in-career or headed to post-career, think about how you can have balanced structure, intense prioritization, more legitimate “no’s”, defined goals, and awareness around taking care of yourself. Start all these now and you’ll slide on into retirement ready to be time-optimized.

Learn more about the lifestyle possibilities of your future self.

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