30 Tips: How To Structure Your Day In Retirement

How To Structure Your Retirement Day

You are retired or almost retired. Finally, you can enjoy the freedom and the luxury of doing all the things you’ve always wanted to do when you dreamed about your days in retirement. But then reality hits, and you ask yourself, how do you structure your day when you retire?

Well, no need to look further. I’ve got you covered! This article is filled with tips on how to structure your retirement day, time management in retirement, examples of morning routines for retirees, samples of a daily retirement schedule, and more. So let’s get started right away!

How To Structure Your Day In Retirement – Essential Tips

We have experienced that switching from fully-packed working days to total free days can be liberating. But after some time, you feel the need for more structured days. And creating structure in your days is essential to living a more fulfilling and retired life. It’s easy to fill up your time with passive activities like watching TV, surfing the internet, and refreshing your Facebook page. But that doesn’t make you happier.

You want to spend your days doing fulfilling activities that make you happier. And a structured day can help you with that. It doesn’t mean that you have to continue the same structure as your working days. That’s not why you’ve retired. You can enjoy your well-deserved free time in retirement and take it easy, but also have a structured day that fits your needs perfectly.

When you retire, you don’t get 20 years of free time as a retirement gift on your last day of work. Instead, you get a couple of extra hours in a day that you don’t have to work anymore. And that’s why it’s important to fill these hours with new and fun activities that make you feel fulfilled at the end of your retirement day. That’s why you worked hard all those years to do what you love. And if you want to know what a typical day in retirement looks like, here is an example:

Sample Daily Schedule For A Retired Person

7:00 am – Wake up, drink water, stretch, or do light exercises
8:00 am – Eat a healthy breakfast
9:00 am – Plan the day, set goals, and prioritize tasks
10:00 am – Attend a fitness class or go for a walk
12:00 pm – Have lunch and take a break
1:00 pm – Work on personal projects or hobbies
3:00 pm – Run errands or attend appointments
5:00 pm – Relax, read a book, or watch TV
6:00 pm – Prepare and have dinner
7:00 pm – Spend time with family or friends
9:00 pm – Wind down, practice mindfulness, and get ready for bed

Now let’s dive into all the tips on how to structure your day in retirement so you can make the most of it.

1) Try New Things

Retirement provides the opportunity to explore new hobbies and interests and find your passion. It’s what you’ve worked for to finally do the things you love to do or try out things you haven’t done before. Going out of your comfort zone makes you feel alive, and doing fun activities makes your retirement life fun. And gives you plenty of conversation material for the next family fathering.

I also understand that after dedicating most of your time to your career in the last decades, you often forget what your passion is. Doing something you are passionate about helps you structure your day in retirement. It makes any day in retirement much more fun, interesting, and satisfying. And you also have a good reason to get up every morning and be excited for the day.

Engaging in leisure activities can promote cognitive function, improve overall well-being, and lower the risk of dementia, according to research. Examples of new activities to try could include learning a new language, taking up a new hobby, or exploring a new part of town. Creating a retirement bucket list is also a great exercise for writing down what you want to try out.

2) Set Goals For Retirement

Setting a goal that excites you is the easiest recipe to get out of bed in the morning. It’s a great way to fuel your ambition and feel good about yourself working on these goals. So if you have a dream, make sure to set a goal to move toward that dream. Even if it seems impossible, cutting it down into small daily tasks makes it less overwhelming.

Setting goals can help you maintain a sense of purpose and provide direction for your daily activities. This can lead to improved psychological well-being and better overall health outcomes. Examples of goals could include learning a new skill, traveling to a new place, or volunteering for a cause you care about.

3) Create New Routines

Daily routines are crucial if you want a more structured retirement day.

Establishing a regular routine can help you maintain a sense of structure and stability in your daily life. Research suggests that routines can promote better sleep, reduce stress, and improve overall health outcomes.

A good morning routine helps you start your day in a great way. And it sets the tone for the rest of the day. After a nice morning routine, you will be more focused on your goals, energized, and motivated for the rest of your retirement day. And you can lean on something that repeats every day.

A routine could include waking up at the same time each day, exercising regularly, and eating meals consistently. Adapting to a new habit usually takes at least 30 days, so try to remind yourself of your new routine for at least 30 days.

Morning Routines For Retirees Examples

Here are a couple of great examples of morning routines for retirees:

The Active Morning Routine

  • Wake up early (around 6:00 am)
  • Stretch or do a gentle yoga practice for 10-15 minutes
  • Take a 30-minute brisk walk or jog
  • Eat a healthy breakfast, such as oatmeal with fruit and nuts or a smoothie with greens and protein powder.
  • Shower and get dressed for the day
  • Spend some time working on a hobby or pursuing a personal interest, such as painting, gardening, or learning a new language.

The Mindful Morning Routine

  • Wake up at a relaxed pace (around 7:30-8:00 am)
  • Practice 10-15 minutes of mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises
  • Write in a journal or practice gratitude for a few minutes.
  • Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while reading a book or the newspaper
  • Eat a healthy breakfast, such as whole-grain toast with avocado and eggs, or a bowl of yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Spend some time planning the day or setting intentions for the week ahead.

The Leisurely Morning Routine

  • Wake up whenever the body naturally feels rested (no alarm clock)
  • Enjoy a slow and leisurely morning, reading a book or watching the sunrise
  • Eat a simple breakfast, such as toast with jam or cereal and milk
  • Take a relaxing bath or shower
  • Spend some time connecting with loved ones or friends in person or via phone or video chat.
  • Plan the rest of the day or simply go with the flow and enjoy the moment.

The Fitness-Focused Morning Routine

  • Wake up early (around 6:00 am)
  • Drink a glass of water or herbal tea to hydrate
  • Do a 30-60 minute workout, such as weightlifting, cardio, or yoga
  • Eat a protein-rich breakfast, such as eggs or a protein shake with fruit
  • Shower and get dressed for the day
  • Spend some time engaging in an activity that promotes physical health, such as stretching, foam rolling, or practicing balance exercises.

The Productive Morning Routine

  • Wake up at a consistent time (around 7:00 am)
  • Make the bed and tidy up the living space
  • Eat a healthy breakfast, such as a smoothie or oatmeal with nuts and fruit
  • Spend an hour or two tackling a task or project, such as organizing the closet or planning a trip
  • Take a short break to stretch or walk around
  • Engage in an activity that brings joy, such as playing music or reading a book.

The Social Morning Routine

  • Wake up at a relaxed pace (around 8:00 am)
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while catching up on emails or social media
  • Eat a leisurely breakfast, such as a bagel with cream cheese and lox or a quiche with vegetables
  • Spend time engaging in social activities, such as volunteering or attending a club meeting
  • Take a walk or run errands with a friend or family member
  • Plan the rest of the day, including any social activities or events.

The Entrepreneurial Morning Routine

Note: Retirees who run their own businesses may have a more structured morning routine than those who do not, but balancing work with other interests and activities is important. This routine allows for a productive day start while incorporating self-care and leisure time.

  • Wake up at a consistent time (around 6:30 am)
  • Check emails and review any urgent messages
  • Spend 15-30 minutes planning the day, prioritizing tasks, and setting goals.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast, such as a protein-rich smoothie or a veggie omelet with whole-grain toast.
  • Spend a few hours working on your retirement business, such as creating marketing materials or managing finances.
  • Take a break to exercise or engage in a hobby
  • Return to work and continue working on the most important tasks
  • Plan the rest of the day, including any appointments or meetings related to the business.

Of course, these are just a few examples, and you can create your own unique morning routine that suits your lifestyle and preferences. The key is to create an enjoyable and fulfilling routine, setting a positive tone for the rest of the day.

4) Wake Up at the Same Time

Sticking to a sleeping schedule helps your body find a natural rhythm and keeps your sleep-wake cycle healthy. It means waking up every day at the same time and going to bed at the same time—this way; your body knows when to be active and when to wind down.

Your body’s internal clock plays a vital role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Hormones are released in the morning to wake you up, and other hormones help you unwind at the end of the day so you can fall asleep quickly. Sticking to a sleeping schedule helps you to have a more structured day. It gives your body the structure it needs to perform the best when you need it to.

An irregular sleeping schedule or lack of sleep can cause irritability, drowsiness, mood swings, concentration, memory problems, headaches, and a decline in cognitive skills. Prioritizing your sleeping schedule and getting enough sleep helps you stay healthy and in a good mood during your days in retirement.

Also, according to research on insomnia, consistent sleep patterns are important for overall health and well-being. Examples of healthy sleep habits include avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoiding screen time before bed.

5) Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is important for maintaining physical and mental health in retirement. Research shows that exercise can improve cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and promote overall well-being and healthy aging.

According to the CDC, elderly people need to have at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity twice a week. But you can spread this out and try to exercise every day in retirement and make it part of your morning routine.

Whether going for a walk around the block, lifting weights, or swimming, being psychically active is extremely important for your health and the key to enjoying your retirement as long as possible.

Besides the benefits of strengthening your muscles, managing your weight, and reducing the risks of many diseases. Exercising also improves your mental health. It’s a great mood booster.

According to Harvard Medical School“Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, brain chemicals that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.”

If this doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will 😉

6) Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet can promote overall health and well-being in retirement. According to the World Health Organization, eating a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve overall health outcomes. Examples of healthy eating habits include preparing meals at home, avoiding processed foods, and limiting sugar and saturated fat intake.

7) Have A Social Life In Retirement

When you retire, you lose the daily social stimulation from work. That’s why it’s important to seek new ways to be social in retirement every day to increase your happiness.

Also, having strong social connections:

  • makes your immune system stronger
  • increases your chance of living longer by 50%
  • helps you to recover from diseases faster
  • and lowers the level of anxiety and depression.

Maintaining relationships with friends and family can reduce the risk of depression, improve cognitive function, and promote overall well-being. According to this research, “The quality and quantity of individuals’ social relationships have been linked not only to mental health but also to both morbidity and mortality.”

And another research suggests that social isolation can lead to negative health outcomes, such as depression and cognitive decline.

Well, I think it’s clear. Being socially active helps you to stay healthy and in a better mood. But other people also help you to structure your day in retirement.

For example, make lunch or dinner together with friends, grab a coffee with a neighbor, Skype with distant family members, babysit your grandchildren, do volunteer work, or follow classes and meet like-minded people with the same interests.

Other examples of social activities could include joining a social club, attending a community event, participating in a group activity, or joining a community group.

8) Manage Your Finances

Managing finances is an important aspect of retirement planning. Creating a budget and monitoring spending can help you make the most of your retirement savings and the days in retirement. Examples of financial management strategies could include meeting with a financial advisor, creating a retirement income plan, and tracking expenses.

9) Stay Mentally Active

Maintaining mental health is important for overall well-being in retirement.

Keeping your brain active in retirement makes your chances of enjoying your retirement as long and healthy as possible much bigger. The key to a successful retirement is having a combination of social, physical, and mental activities.

Learning new skills is a way to stay mentally active, promote cognitive function, and improve overall well-being in retirement. Examples of ways to learn new skills could include taking a class, attending a workshop, or reading a book.

For example, meditation is a great way to start your day with a clear and peaceful mind. With meditation, you’re training your mind in awareness. It’s not about turning off your thoughts or feelings. You learn to observe them without judgment. And with daily meditation sessions, you will better understand your thoughts and feelings. You can fit this into your everyday schedule in retirement and make it a routine to help you stay in the right mind state.

Other examples of mindfulness practices could include practicing yoga, singing bowl sound baths, or deep breathing exercises.

10) Take Breaks

Staying busy in retirement is helpful to keep you occupied and active during the day. But retirement isn’t about always being busy and productive. That was your work-life all about. It’s very helpful to also relax in retirement. And make these moments part of your everyday.

Balancing retirement projects and relaxing time is what retirement should be all about. You relax better when you’ve done something meaningful during the day, and you stay motivated for a new retirement project when you’ve relaxed as well. It’s a balance that is different for everyone, so you have to find your perfect balance and rhythm in your retirement days. And taking enough breaks is key.

Taking breaks throughout the day is important for maintaining focus and reducing stress in retirement. Research suggests that taking short can improve productivity, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being. Some ways to take breaks include going for a short walk, practicing deep breathing exercises, or reading a book.

Alternating between social, mental, and physical activities during the day keeps your retirement day interesting and fun and you more energized. Only doing a mental activity the entire day will exhaust you. Throw in an hour of physical activity in the middle, and you’ll have a fresh mind again. 

The combination of mental, physical, and social activities keeps you motivated and positive about retirement. It is one of the keys to a successful and happy retirement.

11) Take Time for Self-Care

Taking time for self-care is important and should be incorporated into your day, especially when you are very busy. Examples of self-care activities could include taking a relaxing bath, practicing meditation, or spending time in nature. These self-care activities can reduce stress, improve overall well-being, and promote better sleep quality, which benefits your days in retirement.

12) Get A Retirement Hobby

Having a fun retirement hobby makes your day in retirement much more fun. Also, staying busy with a new hobby or activity makes you feel worthy and useful at the end of your day.

A lot of retirees feel worthless because they don’t know how to keep themselves busy in retirement. Having a retirement hobby helps you avoid boredom and do something you love while moving your life forward positively.

A retirement hobby can be anything from volunteering, collecting, doing sports, gardening, starting a new business, or something else you like to do!

Read more: 150 Best Hobbies In Retirement

13) Plan Ahead

You want to structure your retirement days by planning. Not fill up your agenda, but have a few things planned every day, so you have something to look forward to. But also have enough time during the day to do spontaneous things because retirement is freedom and being in charge of your own schedule.

Try not to live your retired life through a full agenda and from appointment to appointment, but be free and flexible to do whatever you want. And let appointments be things to look forward to while also have time for self-care and relaxation.

14) Make A To-Do List

Nothing feels better than ticking off tasks from your to-do list. So make a to-do list with things that are important to you. But also keep in mind that you are retired, you don’t have to be productive or stay busy the whole time. Keep your priorities straight, and don’t get caught up with all the things you think you need to do. Schedule your most important things to do for a week and leave enough gaps for spontaneity.

15) Break Your Day Into Chunks

If you don’t want to lose focus and interest, it’s best not to spend too much time on the same thing. If you break your day into chunks where you have a set time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can spread out your activities between those times. Then you’ll have a clear grid and something to hold on to whenever you feel lost in the enormity of free time.

Plan in coffee times if you tend not to give yourself any breaks. It helps you stay fresh and not exhausted at the end of the day.

16) Limit Your Screen Time

Limiting your screen time is essential to living a happy and healthy retired life. Nobody feels satisfied after a day on the couch zapping through TV stations or binge-watching all sorts of series. The disadvantage of having a lot of screen time in retirement is that it makes you feel meaningless and useless. And that is where loneliness and depression can sneak up on you.

Also, Social Media is a great source and platform to contact faraway friends and family and see what they are up to doing. You’re doing great when you use social media platforms only that way. But going on Social Media too much in retirement isn’t a healthy activity. You will get an unrealistic view of the world when you aimlessly scroll through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media platforms hours every day.

You want to nip this in the bud as quickly as possible before it becomes a habit in retirement.

Tips on Time Management In Retirement

The trick to a happy retirement is to find a nice balance between an overscheduled agenda and not getting bored. This way, you can enjoy your freedom, relax, and be spontaneous while having things to look forward to that make your life fun and interesting. Let’s share a few quick tips to help you manage your time in retirement.

1) Set Goals

Even in retirement, it’s important to have goals that give you direction and purpose. Make a list of the things you want to achieve, and prioritize them based on importance and urgency.

2) Create a Routine

A routine helps you stay on track and ensures you use your time wisely. Plan your day the night before or first thing in the morning to stay focused. A great way to start your day is to include a positive morning routine that will set you up for a positive rest of the day.

Morning Routine For Retirees Example:

  1. Wake up at the same time every day
  2. Drink a glass of water
  3. Stretch or do light exercises
  4. Meditate or practice mindfulness
  5. Eat a healthy breakfast
  6. Plan your day

3) Avoid Procrastination

It’s easy to put off tasks when you have all the time in the world, but procrastination can lead to a lot of wasted time. Try to complete tasks early in the day or as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary stress.

4) Learn New Skills

Retirement is a great time to learn new things. Sign up for classes, read books, or take online courses to keep your mind active and engaged.

5) Stay Active

Physical activity is important for your health and well-being. Make sure you exercise regularly to stay fit in retirement, whether walking, swimming, or joining a fitness class.

Benefits of Having A Schedule In Retirement

Here are some benefits of having a schedule in retirement:

> Increases Productivity

Having a schedule helps retirees stay organized and focused, making them more productive with their time. By establishing daily routines and setting goals, retirees can make the most of their time and accomplish more throughout the day.

> Provides Structure And Purpose

Retirement can sometimes feel aimless and lacking in structure, which can lead to boredom and dissatisfaction. By having a schedule, retirees can create a sense of purpose and structure in their day, which can contribute to a more fulfilling retirement.

> Helps Manage Time Effectively

Time management can become more challenging in retirement as fewer external constraints exist on a retiree’s schedule. A daily schedule can help retirees manage their time more effectively, ensuring they have enough time for both leisure activities and important tasks.

> Reduces Stress

A schedule can help retirees feel more in control of their day and reduce the stress and anxiety that can come from feeling disorganized or overwhelmed. Having a clear plan for the day can help retirees feel more relaxed and focused.

> Promotes Better Sleep

Establishing a consistent daily routine can help retirees maintain healthy sleep habits. By waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, retirees can regulate their sleep cycle and promote better sleep quality.

> Improves Overall Health

Retirees can improve their overall health and well-being by incorporating regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and social activities into a daily schedule. A schedule can help retirees prioritize these important activities and make them a regular part of their day.

Daily Retirement Schedule Samples

Here are three sample daily retirement schedules:

1) The Active Retirement Schedule:

  • 6:30 am – Wake up, stretch, and do some light exercises
  • 7:00 am – Eat a healthy breakfast
  • 8:00 am – Go for a brisk walk or engage in another form of physical activity, such as swimming or yoga
  • 9:00 am – Return home and take a shower
  • 10:00 am – Engage in a hobby or pursue an interest, such as reading, painting, or gardening
  • 12:00 pm – Eat a healthy lunch
  • 1:00 pm – Volunteer or participate in community service
  • 3:00 pm – Return home and relax or take a nap
  • 4:00 pm – Engage in social activities, such as meeting friends for coffee or attending a club meeting
  • 6:00 pm – Eat a healthy dinner
  • 7:00 pm – Participate in evening activities, such as attending a concert or playing cards with friends
  • 10:00 pm – Wind down and prepare for bed

2) The Leisurely Retirement Schedule:

  • 8:00 am – Wake up and enjoy a leisurely breakfast
  • 10:00 am – Go for a walk or engage in light exercise
  • 11:00 am – Spend time reading, listening to music, or watching TV
  • 12:00 pm – Eat a healthy lunch
  • 1:00 pm – Engage in a relaxing activity, such as gardening, knitting, or puzzles
  • 3:00 pm – Take a nap or enjoy some quiet time
  • 4:00 pm – Engage in social activities, such as meeting friends for coffee or attending a club meeting
  • 6:00 pm – Eat a healthy dinner
  • 7:00 pm – Participate in evening activities, such as watching a movie or listening to a podcast
  • 9:00 pm – Wind down and prepare for bed

3) The Productive Retirement Schedule:

  • 6:00 am – Wake up and review daily goals and tasks
  • 7:00 am – Eat a healthy breakfast
  • 8:00 am – Spend a few hours working on a personal project or business
  • 11:00 am – Engage in physical activity, such as going for a walk or doing yoga
  • 12:00 pm – Eat a healthy lunch
  • 1:00 pm – Attend appointments or engage in errands
  • 3:00 pm – Return home and engage in a hobby or other personal interest
  • 5:00 pm – Participate in social activities, such as meeting friends for dinner or attending a club meeting
  • 7:00 pm – Wind down and relax
  • 9:00 pm – Prepare for bed

What Should You Not Do When You Retire?

Retirement can be a time of immense freedom and opportunity, but it’s important to remember that it’s still a major life transition. While it’s important to focus on what you want to do during retirement, it’s equally important to be aware of what you shouldn’t do. Here are a few things to avoid when you retire:

  1. Don’t overspend: It’s important to remember your financial situation during retirement. While you may have more free time and fewer financial obligations, it’s still important to budget and plan for the future.
  2. Don’t isolate yourself: Retirement can often lead to a reduction in social interaction, which can be detrimental to both physical and mental health. Staying connected with friends, family, and the community is important.
  3. Don’t stop learning: Retirement provides an excellent opportunity to pursue new interests and learn new skills. By staying intellectually engaged, you can keep your mind sharp and continue to grow as a person.
  4. Don’t neglect your health: While retirement can provide more free time for exercise and healthy habits, it’s important to continue to prioritize your physical and mental health.
  5. Don’t lose your sense of purpose: Retirement can often lead to a loss of identity and purpose. It’s important to continue to set goals and pursue meaningful activities to maintain a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can make the most of your retirement and lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Related Questions

How can I stay busy when I retire?

You can do many things to stay busy when you’re retired. The most favorite activities of retirees are doing volunteer work, starting a (new) hobby or sport, traveling, gardening, adopting or sitting a pet, or starting a business. Read more: How Can I Stay Active In Retirement?

How do I find my retirement passion?

Finding your passion is diving deeper into yourself. You really have to know what your interests are and what makes you really excited. If you’re stuck on answering that question right away, it can help to talk to a life coach or family and friends to get another perspective. Other tactics are to think like a child; what did you like as a child? Changes are you still like it today! Or you can try out new things and discover your passion this way. Read more: 14 Tips How To Find Your Passion In Retirement.

Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 200+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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