TM for seniorsWhy do we think that time management is not for seniors? When looking at time management for seniors we see that something strange happens to many of us during the final third of our lives. During the retirement stage, many of us seem to forget everything we learned about time management. In fact a few of us don’t even plan for retirement in the first place. We make a sudden transition from employed to unemployed with no idea of how we will spend the rest of our lives, other than some fantasy thoughts about playing golf every day and taking it easy. The problem is, it takes money to play golf. It also takes good weather, good health, and good friends. And there’s nothing easy about taking it easy when we have no plans.
Ted Engstrom, in his book, Welcome to the Rest of Your Life, referred to a Harvard University study that showed that early retirement actually lowers one’s longevity. 7 out of 8 men studied who retired at age 65 were dead by age 75. Retirement does not mean withdrawal from the human race, just the rat race.
I have spent a lot of time with retirees in the years since I passed retirement age, and have witnessed a wide range of situations and attitudes. Some individuals who had obviously not planned at all are having financial problems or don’t know what to do with themselves. Others feel a successful retirement is one in which you are able to keep busy. They’re going here or there – shopping malls, window shopping, early bird dinners. They’re so busy doing things they don’t stop long enough to ask themselves if they are enjoying themselves or not. Others complain about the poor hand that life has dealt them, lead a sedentary lifestyle, always hang around people their own age or older, and get their kicks out of criticizing others.
But I have also met others who have more than just activities or hobbies in their lives; they have meaning in their lives. They get up early and check their schedules. They have part-time jobs or second careers. They do volunteer work, plan activities with other people, choose to have a positive attitude, participate in the lives of their children and grandchildren, engage in regular physical activity, and yes, even take vacations.
With life expectancy continuing to increase, some people are spending a third of their lives or more in retirement. That’s too much time to waste. If you leave full-time employment, take your time management skills with you and leave the stress behind.
Set personal goals, complete with deadlines and schedules. Continue to use a planning calendar. Schedule self-development activities. You’re never too old to learn. Spend time with younger people; if you don’t, your wisdom will die when you do. Keep exercise as a priority. Make up for the years you have been procrastinating. Read the books you never got around to reading. See the sights you always wanted to see. Mend broken relationships and make new ones.
As far as I’m concerned, the greatest time management strategy is to live longer and healthier. This involves planning while you are still young – and looking after your brain as well as well as your body. Our bodies are outliving our minds. Well over 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. And it is predicted that a half-million new cases will develop every year. Yet people who exercise regularly in their middle age are only one-third as likely to get Alzheimer’s disease in their 70’s. That’s just physical exercise. Brain exercise is important as well.
Don’t retire from something; retire to something. And keep managing your time and your life well into your nineties and beyond.