Welcome to this fourth module, looking at how to manage your retirement and the new additional time you now have available to you

Tackle the module in bite size chunks, don’t feel the need to do everything in one go and allow plenty of time to digest and apply the information covered

The module includes helpful ‘Activities’ for you to complete, it is strongly recommended that you undertake them to get the most out of the content and the key learning points

Allow yourself time to reflect and take on board the advice, key messages and suggested tasks contained in the module to enable you to move your retirement plans forward

This module will

  • Help you to pull together everything you have leant so far in this programme to manage your time effectively

  • Offer a range of time management and planning tools for you choose the one(s) that work(s) best for you

  • Provide guidance on how to get organised and stay in control of your active retirement, whatever that may include

  • Enable you to prepare SMART action plans using the knowledge gained from this and all of the previous modules

It's important that you make any retirement objectives that you set yourself are meaningful, manageable and achievable

In particular the objectives need to be SMART, that is

Specific – they must be clear and definite, not vague or fudged 

Measurable – outcomes sought and by when must be identified

Achievable – challenge and stretch are good, but they must be doable

Relevant – focus only on activities that are key to your job hunt

Timely – undertaken at a time and in an order that makes sense

Lets now look at how to apply the SMART principle to managing your time and objectives

We have already seen in module 3 that there are four key elements to having a positive mental attitude

  • Wellbeing – ensuring that you look after yourself and your environment

  • Motivation – being internally driven and prepared to make things happen

  • Courage – enabling you to be brave and take risks by overcoming your fears

  • Resilience – having the ability to bounce back stronger than ever from adversity  

Having a positive mental attitude will dramatically increase your chances of having a fulfilling and happy retirement

Your time is a very precious and limited resource that you need to manage effectively if you are to fully enjoy your retirement

The following are a selection of some of the most tried and tested time management techniques

Their relevance and value in relation to your retirement will depend on

  • What choices you have made 

  • What sort of person you are

  • What time issues you struggle with

You can use all of the techniques or, alternatively, you a can just 'pick and mix' one or more of them and apply those that will most benefit you

The crucial focus needs to be that you manage your precious retirement time well by whatever techniques work best for you

As illustrated below, there are four dimensions to structuring your time

Let’s spend some time looking at each of these four dimensions and the range of techniques available to manage them

Allocating your time effectively is about ensuring that you have time available

Techniques to enable you to create and use time well include

Time Blocking

This technique is particularly helpful to avoid

 

  • Tending to jump around from task to task

  • Being easily distracted or side tracked

  • A tendency to procrastinate and put off doing things

  • Lacking the discipline to do the things you don’t like

  • Difficulty prioritising tasks and how long to spend on them

Regularly blocking off specific time periods for specific tasks can be helpful

How you do it is up to you, but it could look something like this

The Pomodoro Technique

 

Once you have populated your blocks of time, you could break down each block further by using a timer or perhaps the alarm clock on your mobile phone

The technical term for these periods of time or intervals are the Pomodoro technique, the idea being that having short, sharp time slots to enable you to get things done with urgency and purpose

The time slots can be anywhere between 5 and 25 minutes, depending on the required task(s) with the key objective being to increase your productivity, focus and achievement of the outcomes sought

Parkinson’s Law

 

The converse to this approach is probably best encapsulated in what is known as Parkinson’s Law, which states that the amount of time you allocate to a task is the amount of time it will take to complete

So the longer time you give to a task, the longer it will take to complete .e.g. if you tell yourself that you have all day to do ‘x' then the whole day will, indeed, be spent making it so

The solution to avoid Parkinson’ Law is to set timings to complete tasks that are challenging but achievable and then stick with them, so you don’t stretch the time too long over the day

The Eisenhower Matrix

Dwight D Eisenhower, the famous World War Two Field Marshal and later US President, developed a matrix for prioritising and dealing with what was important vs unimportant and what was urgent vs not urgent

 

 

The following is the active retirement equivalent matrix

This quadrant is your 1st priority - everything else will have to wait until these items have been completed or are in the process of being completed

This quadrant is your 3rd priority - if all 1st and 2nd priority items are under control, then they can be allocated to whatever time you have left

This is your lowest priority quadrant - these items can be permanently parked or, if your 1st, 2nd and 3rd priorities have been completed, some can be selectively picked off

This quadrant is your 2nd priority - these items need to be done and not lost or ignored, but are not time critical, so they can be appropriately scheduled

The Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle states that

  • 20% of your time spent on activities will produce 80% of the outcomes you are trying to achieve

  • Conversely, 80% of your time spent on activities will only produce 20% of the outcomes sought

The diagram below illustrates the principle

So, applying this principle in your time management strategies, you need to regularly keep

 

 

  • Identifying the high impact 20% time and focus on these tasks to realise the 80% of outcomes

  • Only tackle the 80% lower value tasks once all of the high value tasks are completed or  in progress

Pickle jar theory

This theory looks to help you work out what is useful to do or not useful to do in your daily life so that you can prioritise what you should be spending your day doing

The concept is that of a pickle jar that contains sand, pebbles and rocks, as illustrated below

The rocks = the most important tasks that must be done (or set in motion to be done) today

 

 

The pebbles = tasks that need doing but can be done after the rocks have been dealt with

The sand = the disrupters that keep interrupting you and stop you from getting things done

The pickle jar golden rules are that

  • In any list of tasks, you need to identify your rocks, pebbles and sand

  • Most of your time should be spent on the rocks and the pebbles

  • The rocks should always take precedent over the pebbles

  • The pebbles must always take precedent over the sand

  • The sand must occupy very little or none of your time

There are five poplar techniques for optimising your time, namely the

 

 

  • Opportunity cost approach

  • Rapid planning method

  • ‘Eat the frog’ concept

  • Distractions and habits manager

  • Supporters and drainers model

Let’s have a look at each of them in a  bit more detail

The Opportunity Cost Approach

 

 

The opportunity cost of doing something is what else you could have done instead and the benefits and value you could have accrued that you have now missed out on

 

 

There is only one of you and only a limited, finite amount of time, so everything you do has an opportunity cost as there must, by definition, be other things you are not doing 

 

 

The thought processes that opportunity cost approach generates is that, once you have prepared your daily or weekly tasks, you should

 

 

  • Consider the relative opportunity cost of the items and activities on your list of tasks

  • Spend the maximum time on the high value, low opportunity cost items and activities

  • Satisfy yourself that the high opportunity cost tasks are worth missing the forgone value

Rapid Planning Method

RPM (rapid planning method) seeks to train and condition your brain to be motivated to focus on the outcomes you are trying to achieve

By empowering yourself to take control using a simple model, you can quickly make progress which will further motivate you

Having captured your tasks for the week (or whatever time frame you wish to set) and the results you are seeking to achieve, you will be motivated to then map out and action what needs to be done as illustrated below

Eat the frog

Based on a Mark Twain quotation, ‘eat the frog’ in retirement terms says that you should identify the beneficial tasks you least like doing, tend to avoid, or just don’t really want to do and making sure you do them first and get them over and done with 

Perhaps an alternative and potentially more positive interpretation of the principle might be for you to do your MITs (most important tasks) in the morning while you are likely to be at your  freshest and feeling most energised

There are seven stages to ‘eat the frog’, namely

Managing your distractions and habits

 

 

Proactively manage the following so that they do not interfere with what you need to do

  • Be sensitive to identifying and eliminating potential distractions

  • Be aware of just how distractions reduce your productivity

  • Watch out for procrastination or hesitancy in yourself

  • Spot your bad habits and coach yourself to overcome them

  • Understand that you are not perfect – you will make mistakes

  • Making mistakes isn’t bad – as long as you learn from them

  • Multi-tasking often lowers comprehension, effectiveness and productivity

  • Spot your most productive times of the day and optimise your use of them

  • If you feel the need, spend a week auditing your time to see what is and isn’t working

  • Breakdown large, scary looking tasks into lots of smaller ‘bite size’ tasks

  • Include smaller task milestones  and reward yourself for reaching them

  • Group together and tackle together similar tasks from similar areas of activity

  • Ensure that you have a healthy and positive work-life balance

  • Identify your ‘keystone’ habits – that both solicit good habits and inhibit bad habits

  • Focusing on your ‘keystone’ habits will enable you to optimise your time management

Positive supporters and negative drainers

Your positive supporters – are the things that help you to stay on track with your activities

Your negative drainers – are all the things that prevent your from effectively doing things

 

The key task is to identify what they each are and how you are going to manage them 

 

 

The best way to pull together these positive and negative aspects is via the diagram below 

There are three tried and tested approaches to organising your time, namely

 

 

  • The GTD model

  • The 'to do lists' approach

  • Effective action planning

Let’s have a look at these in more detail

The GTD method

The ‘getting things done’ (GTD) principle seeks to focus on making tasks more manageable and less onerous by getting them down on paper and then breaking them down into actionable ‘bite size chunks’

As illustrated below

To do list(s)

It can be surprisingly satisfying to crossed off or deleted tasks from a list once they have been completed

 

 

Your to do list(s) can be

 

 

  • Hand written or typed

  • Hard copy or soft copy

  • Prioritised or unordered

  • Subdivided or continuous

  • Alphabetical or random

Whatever format you choose, the items on the list(s) must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely

This module has enabled you to

 

  • Take onboard a range of techniques to manage your time effectively - you have never been more in control of your time and you need to use your new found freedom as a retiree wisely and fruitfully

  • Identify and undertake key actions to ensure that you have a positive mental attitude in relation to your wellbeing, motivation, courage and resilience

  • Understand and selectively apply a range of practical, tried and tested tools to enable you allocate, prioritise, optimise and organise your retirement plans

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