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Feeling Lazy? Try These Tips to Boost Productivity in Retirement

By Carol Benton August 24, 2020 Senior Living

Retirement brings a wonderful sense of freedom from responsibilities and schedules. In retirement, we can make our own decisions about how to spend our time. After all, we earned the freedom of retirement by working hard for many years!

I love being retired, and I’m happy to lead the relaxed lifestyle of a retiree. But I also like to get stuff done. If I become too lazy and fail to accomplish my personal goals, I end up feeling like I’ve wasted valuable time and opportunities.

Therefore, I try to balance freedom and relaxation with a desire to be productive in retirement. I find that I’m happiest when I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. To do this, I’ve discovered a few strategies and tools to boost my productivity.

Maintain a Healthy Sleep Schedule

When you no longer have a job to report to every day, it’s easy to slip into habits that do not promote productivity in retirement.

Stay up until 3:00 a.m. to finish that fascinating novel? Sure, no problem. Watch another episode in that Netflix series? Yeah, why not? You can always sleep late on days when you need to catch up on your sleep. Right? Well… wrong.

The problem with varying your sleep schedule is that it can lead to poor performance on physical and mental tasks. Studies show that maintaining a consistent sleep schedule leads to healthy outcomes.

As a general guideline, you should get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Aim for going to bed and waking up at the same times every day and avoid taking naps after 3:00 p.m. By staying on schedule, you’ll get more restful and restorative, high-quality sleep.

Studies show that lack of sleep is related to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and lowered immunity. Additionally, lack of quality sleep leads to poor performance on mental tasks, making you feel mentally sluggish or foggy. Your mood can be negatively affected by not getting enough sleep, too, making you feel cranky or irritable.

These negative effects of insufficient sleep can prevent you from maintaining productivity. So, start with a good night’s sleep to enjoy good mental and physical health. Good health paves the way for a more productive lifestyle.

Get Outdoors

If you want to boost your physical and mental energy to become more productive in retirement, simply step outside your door! Even better, get out into open green spaces with fresh air and sunshine.

Studies reported by Yale School of the Environment reveal that getting out in nature at least two hours per week can enhance your physical health and emotional well-being. Time spent in nature can help to lower your blood pressure, enhance your immune system, lift your mood, and help you feel calmer. These positive effects can naturally lead to a more productive lifestyle.

Even if you can’t get outdoors, you can use elements of nature to promote productivity. Bring nature into your workspace at home with plants and water. Researchers find that these elements have a positive effect on your brain function and therefore increase productivity.

Use Technology

Although there’s nothing wrong with paper-and-pencil lists and calendars, I find that technology offers advantages in time-saving efficiency. Utilize apps on phones, tablets, and computers to improve your productivity.

Link your electronic calendar on all your devices. Use it for appointments, reminders, and personal planning. Additionally, you can use an app such as Notes for grocery lists and daily to-do lists. Voice memo apps allow you to quickly record to-do lists and reminders.

Speaking of to-do lists, you may want to check out the many productivity apps available for Android or Apple devices. Apps such as Todoist, TickTick, and Microsoft To Do offer convenient features to keep you on track with all your tasks, appointments, and goals.

Use technology to decrease the time it takes for simple administrative chores. Set up electronic delivery of vital information along with electronic file storage. Additionally, you can set up automatic bill-pay to save time spent on personal finances.

Plan Ahead and Save Time

Now that you’re retired, you can plan your schedule to avoid wasting time. That time can be put to good use in ways that make you more productive.

Schedule errands when most people are at work. You can get in and out of the gym, grocery store, or nail salon more quickly during non-busy hours on weekdays.

Avoid the slow traffic that occurs during peak commuting times. Plan your travel and driving time for non-peak hours when traffic density is low. You’ll get to your destination more quickly.

The same principle applies to dining out or meeting a friend for coffee. We’re all familiar with old jokes about seniors frequenting the early bird dinner buffets. But it’s true that we can save time by scheduling lunches, dinners, and social engagements when most people are at work.

Take advantage of time-saving strategies to be productive in accomplishing the goals that you value. When you save time on daily chores and errands, you can put that time into productive activities that you enjoy.

Best Time to Be Productive

At what time of day are you most productive? Maybe you’re a night owl, or maybe you’re the early bird who catches that proverbial worm. Either way, you can maximize your productivity by working on projects when you’re most energetic.

Consider your physical energy peaks as well as mental energy peaks. Then schedule your chores and projects accordingly.

For example, I can do my best yardwork or heavy house-cleaning early in the morning when I have the most physical energy. On the other hand, I’m able to accomplish light household chores in the late afternoon or early evening.

When it comes to tasks that require mental energy (like writing a blog post), I’m at my best around mid-morning, up until lunchtime.

Best Place to Be Productive

Similarly, you can determine your optimal environment for productivity. Do you need totally quiet surroundings to concentrate? Or, do you like to have the sound of a TV, radio, or music in the background?

Are you most productive when you’re alone? Or, do you find your productivity is enhanced when you seek to engage with others?

In retirement, you probably spend much of your time at home. Experiment with different settings in your home that help you to maximize your mental and physical productivity.

Do you like to work in an area of the house where you can get away from the rest of the family? Or, do prefer to work on projects in the company of others? Can you set up a dedicated space to work on craft projects? Perhaps you can create a quiet nook for working on finances or performing research online.

Use your imagination and try out different spaces in your home to find the best environment that boosts your productivity.

Are you retired? How does it feel to have so much free time? Have you noticed becoming lazy? Have you found ways to maintain productivity in retirement? What works for you? Let’s have a conversation. Please drop a comment in the section below.

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The Author

Carol Benton, B.M.Ed., M.M., D.M.A., is a retired music educator and college professor. In retirement, she continues to work part-time as a church musician along with pursuing a new career in freelance writing. See what Carol’s up to by visiting her blog, Scribbling Boomer, or email Carol at

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