Seeing your retirement as a gift of time


An hourglass in a gift box

Image: exopixel/

It can be helpful to see your retirement as a gift of time. Actually, it’s more than helpful—it’s part of the reality of retirement.

Take a moment to think about how much time your work takes out of your week. Keep in mind not only the work hours but also commuting time, overtime, work you may do at home and any other time you spend in work-related preparation or responsibilities.

Let’s use a figment of my imagination, James, as a case study. For James, the figures come out like this. He works 38 hours a week, but even then he has to add plus, plus, plus to these hours. He commutes 45 minutes to work—and then 45 minutes back. He works at least two hours overtime each week. Then there are after-hours phone conversations and emails to handle. It easily adds up to 50 hours a week.

There are a total of 168 hours in a week. Suppose James sleeps 8 hours a night—that’s 56 hours for the week. Sleep is necessary. Without it, life becomes a little crazy.

168 – 56 = 112

That leaves James with 112 hours of waking time each week. Then we take off his work-related hours to help find his free time.

112 – 50 = 62

James is left with 62 hours outside of work and sleep that he can choose what he’s going to do with. That’s not quite true because he has to do necessary things like eat, shower (please) and mow the lawn. For convenience, we’ll allow 12 hours a week for the things he has to do.

62 – 12 = 50

That means James has 50 hours each week to choose to do what he wants with. And that assumes that some responsibilities or tasks he has taken on could be cancelled if he desired.

Then, with retirement, James stops work and has another 50 hours a week available—add the 50 ‘free’ hours he already has, and that’s 100 hours all up. That’s 5200 hours a year.

In retirement, those hours will pass whether he does anything with them or not.

So much for James, what will you do with the gift of time retirement gives you? What’s your plan?

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Lifestyle, Planning

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