6 Time Management Tips for Empty Nesters + Inside A Day in My Life

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
woman over 50 wearing amazon pink fleece-lined sweatshirt and black joggers standing up working on a laptop

When an Empty Nest Blessed follower messaged me a few weeks ago asking me to share some time management tips for empty nesters, I decided it would be an excellent topic for a post! While I certainly don’t have it all together, I do manage my business, an employee or two, and our household! (With varying degrees of success on any given day!😂)

So today, I’m sharing the time management tips I use in my empty nest in the hope that maybe it will be a blessing to you in some way!

Time Management and the Empty Nest

When the kids were in the nest, their schedules provided structure for yours. From mealtimes to weekend schedules, it was all dictated by their activities and commitments. Now that the kids have flown the nest, finding structure and accomplishing the things you need to do might be more of a challenge than you thought it would! You probably thought you’d have more time on your hands than you do! The truth is, we tend to fill up the time we have!

Ever heard of “Parkinson’s Law?” It’s the adage that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. The term was first coined in 1955 by Cyril Northcote Parkinson. He wrote a humorous essay for The Economist in which he shared the story of a woman whose only task in a day is to send a postcard. Sounds quick and easy, right? But the woman spends an hour finding the card, another half hour looking for her glasses, 90 minutes writing the card, 20 minutes deciding whether or not to take an umbrella along on her walk to the mailbox…and on and on until her day is filled!

Anyone relate? 🙋‍♀️😂

woman over 50 wearing amazon pink fleece-lined sweatshirt and black joggers standing up working on a laptop

Fleece-Lined Sweatshirt (See all colors HERE) | Cotton Cashmere Black Joggers (49% off right now) | Sole Bliss Pink Star Sneakers (Use code ENB15 for 15% off) | Black Drop Earrings | Delicate Diamond Heart Necklace (My Valentine’s gift from Bob this year!) | Diamond Initial Pendant Necklace

Time Management Tips for Empty Nesters

Some people are naturally organized, and some people are not! The truth is, I think most of us fall somewhere in the middle. So if you don’t feel like you’ve got your life together, don’t get discouraged. You’re not alone!

Tip #1: Know Your Natural Tendencies and Embrace Them

Bob likes routine. Every day, he does the same thing at the same time. I need flexibility and variety in my schedule to stay engaged and keep my creative juices flowing. This has made our marriage, um, interesting, at times! I get kind of bored with his version of daily life, and he gets kind of rattled by the dynamic version of mine!

Over the years, we’ve learned to appreciate the value of each other’s styles. I love that Bob is dependable and steady, and it’s helped me see the value of consistency. Likewise, Bob’s come to appreciate that I am spontaneous, which means I think outside the box. It can be helpful when it comes to creative problem-solving. Our styles are complementary.

Whichever time management tendencies you have, embrace them and see their value. Then take a look at the different time management styles of those you surround yourself with and seek to learn from them.

Tip #2: Focus on Good Decision Making

Throughout our day, we’re faced with a million little decisions! From what to wear to what to have for dinner (and lots in between), decision-making plays a crucial role in time management for empty nesters.

Decision Making & Opportunity Cost

Have you heard of opportunity cost? It’s an economic term that is key for investors, but you can apply it to all decision-making. Opportunity cost is the potential loss from a missed opportunity—the result of choosing one alternative and forgoing another. Sometimes it can be challenging to make a decision to do something we want to do — simply because of what we might give up when we choose it and let the other options go.

Decision-Making Tips

  • Most decisions aren’t black or white. Most are shades of gray! That’s helpful to remember if you’re paralyzed by fear of making the “wrong” decision.
  • Very few decisions in life are truly irreversible. If you’re struggling to make a decision, try telling yourself that _________________ is the best decision “right now,” but you can probably change your mind if circumstances change.
  • Remember the HALT acronym: Don’t make any decisions when you’re
    • Hungry
    • Angry
    • Lonely
    • Tired

Tip #3: The Right Tools Can Help

daily schedule using joy creative shop's schedule pad

Hourly Schedule Notepad

To-Do Lists

Time management tools can help you manage your time. I’ve tried different time management tools throughout the years, and this awesome Hourly Schedule Notepad from Joy Creative Shop is what I’m using now! I’ve also used their Cleerely Stated – To do Today Notepad, which has spaces for a verse of the day, things you’re praying about, truths to remember, and even what to let go. It’s a good one!

If you’re a simple to-do list girl, I get it! Joy Creative Shop has adorable to-do lists in all shapes and sizes and even a line for men. There are also some FREE printables on the Joy Creative Shop site that you might find helpful.

Planners

I used to use a paper planner, but now I find it more helpful to keep my calendar on my phone and write out a new to-do list every day. I found that having a paper planner actually made me feel more overwhelmed than just taking one day at a time.

That said, if you are a fan of paper planners, I would recommend Emily Ley Planners.

Tip #4: Take One Day at a Time

Bob’s favorite saying about the empty nest is: “We can go where we want, when we want, and stay as long as we want!” (To which I always answer, “Empty Nest Blessed!”) While that isn’t literally true, of course (we do have jobs and obligations!), I think one of the luxuries of the empty nest is not having a bunch of little people dictating your schedule.😀

While planners and schedules are great, it’s important to remember that reality will always look different, and it’s essential to give your schedule margin so you can be flexible and adjust and improvise as needed. That daily schedule I shared with you above — in reality, I didn’t get to Target, I didn’t stay exactly on time, and I didn’t have dinner ready when Bob got home (among others)! Remember that planners and schedules can be helpful tools, but they’re just tools! Real-life will always look different.

Tip #5: Finish Strong

Anyone can start strong, but not everyone finishes strong. It takes resilience and grit to finish well. So when it comes to time management, be sure to:

  • Only start something like a fitness regimen, a volunteer commitment, or a new job if you know that you can see it through to the end. If necessary, make smaller commitments that are more do-able for you.
  • Keep your schedule realistic for you personally and be sure to leave margin so you don’t get frustrated or discouraged.
  • Don’t compare what you do in a day, a week, a month, or a year to others. You may have restrictions or commitments that they don’t have.

Tip #6: Live Your Purpose

You can’t do it all, and you can’t be everything to everyone! It’s essential to refine your focus, narrow down your purpose, and concentrate on where you can thrive and make a difference. The key is to find the intersection of your passion and your skills.

If you’re struggling to find your purpose in the empty nest, it’s okay! A lot of people do. I’ve written and spoken on this topic quite a bit. Here are some resources that can help.

Time Management in MY Empty Nest

I didn’t start Empty Nest Blessed until I became an empty nester! Before that, I was a full-time stay-at-home mom. I love what I do, but learning to balance my job with my personal life has been a challenge! One thing that helps me be efficient and use my work time wisely is your feedback. What topics do you want to see more? Where do you most enjoy seeing me? Instagram? Facebook? Pinterest? Here on the blog?

Leave me a comment on this post and share your thoughts on ENB, okay? Thanks to my generous friends at Joy Creative Shop, every person who comments will be entered to win one of three Hourly Schedule Notepads. (That’s the helpful scheduling tool I’m using right now!) I’ll announce the winners in my weekend post.

What are your best time management tips? I’d love to know. Please share with our community — your comment could be a real blessing to someone else!

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Suzy Mighell

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26 Comments

  1. My husband is a person of routine also. I get frustrated when there are too many commitments on the calendar —– even if these are things I WANT to do! When there are too many calendar entries and I have to start looking hard for a window in which to add something I want, I get frustrated. I love going and I love people, but I am a very creative person, and I need freedom and flexibility! (I, too, keep my schedule on the phone, but thrive by using my list(s) on good, old fashioned paper!). Great post!

    1. Susan,

      I hear you! I’m very much that way too! We are a lot alike. I thrive in an environment with variety and flexibility. Thanks so much for sharing!

      xoxo
      Suzy

    2. Suzy, thanks for the valuable time management tips, very valuable, it makes sense & it’s very manageable in a busy day to day life. Blessings to you!

  2. Thank you for the post. I’ve been looking at those products by Joy. Maybe what I need. I can’t seem to get with the lists on my phone. My husband is good at that but not me

    1. Kathy,

      I think you would like them. The quality is impeccable! I’m with you on the phone lists, but I do use my phone to set reminders for myself, and I find that super helpful!

      Thanks for your comment!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  3. Love this post! We will be an empty nester in the fall and it’s constantly on my mind. I thought about all the changes ahead, but had never thought about how my schedule would change. I know I’ll be coming back to this post a lot!

    1. Valerie,

      It will be here for you, as will I. You can do it, Mama! Finish strong and enjoy these last few months before you enter this new season! Just like any season, it has joys and challenges!

      Thanks so much for your comment!
      xoxo
      Suzy

  4. Time management is definitely a downfall for me. I work in the business my dad started, gradually going from a few hours while kids were at mother’s day out to 4 days a week now. It was definitely a blessing being able to bring kids in the summer, pick them up from school, be off for field trips, etc. Plus, I’m with my family. However, without strict hours, I now tend to come in later than I should and then sometimes get home late, never getting enough done. I have a real problem getting out of bed lol. I have all those things I need to do on a daily basis (regular exercise, regular Bible time…) and should be able to now, but just don’t make myself. Maybe this post will help get me motivated to try harder!

    On another note
    I’ve been reading back on some of your older empty nest posts before I started following and enjoying those. Although all of our circumstances are different, I’m seeing some of our issues can be the same. I’m not the only “crazy” 52 year old (where did the time go by the way?!) Our kids actually lived at home until they married so we had “young adult” kids around which is a transition in itself. Our first (middle one) married in 2015 and I think I actually handled that one pretty well after the initial shock. The oldest and youngest (only girl) married 2 1/2 months apart in 2020 (not easy to deal with). 2021 saw us become grandparents (we had a total of 5 within 2 1/2 months (3 foster)!) We absolutely love it, but you don’t realize it also takes some figuring out – especially with that many blessings at once. By the way, I’m still trying! It’s not that I’m not doing okay, but I do need to be intentional about figuring out what my purpose is now and how to manage my time to do whatever I’m supposed to do lol. Thanks for your helpful posts and being a sounding board!

    1. Tracey,

      Wow! You are amazing. Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing all of that with me, Tracey. Know that what you’ve been through (and are still going through) is pretty unusual, and treat yourself with grace and kindness.

      You WILL figure this out, but it will take intentionality and self-discipline on your part. Bob and I were just talking about how many places in the Bible the Lord talks about his servants “rising early in the morning.” (Google it!) Clearly, He knows those morning hours when we are fresh are the time we need to get going!

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful and sweet comment! I’m praying for you!

      xoxo,
      Suzy

  5. Hi Suzy- great information! I’ve been an emptynester for several years, retired two years ago and my husband just recently retired. It’s been challenging finding my (and now our) new routine and flow. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog, IG and FB posts and they’ve helped give me some ideas and thoughts for this next chapter in my life. I volunteer at a local hospice once a week and participate in a weekly bible study on another day. They’ve both helped add some structure while at the same time leaving me free time to explore “whatever I want to do”:) Thanks again for all you do!!

    1. Helen,

      Thank you for your sweet comment! I’ve had several ENB followers ask me to write a post about the adjustments that retirement brings to the empty nest. I would love to do that, but I can’t do it from experience, so I will have to pull in some experts in that very thing!

      Thank you for letting me know that you enjoy my posts! That means a lot to me! Sometimes it feels like I just put those out there and I’m not sure if they’re hitting the mark or not, so your encouragement is very helpful!

      Hugs to you!

      xoox
      Suzy

  6. I love this! Some days I feel like I do a pretty good job at time management and other days I feel like the lady in the article you mentioned! :). Even though our children are in college now, I still feel there are a number of things that “pop up” and aren’t on the daily list!! That’s a huge challenge for me!

    1. Cindy,

      I so relate to what you’re saying! That’s why I’ve found that it’s so important to leave margin in my schedule and keep telling myself to be flexible all throughout the day! It’s HARD! I hear you!

      Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing that with me, Cindy! Now I know I’m not alone in feeling that way!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  7. Hi Suzy,
    Great blog post! Something I found most helpful was using an hourly schedule notepad rather than a planner. Every year I purchase a planner and other than scheduling my appointments, birthdays, etc., it doesn’t get used. Like you, it’s daunting and overwhelming. I am now switching to a hourly notepad for each day. I’m excited about this! I love having a concise daily visual, if that makes sense!
    All helpful information, thank you!
    Nancy

    1. Nancy,

      I relate! That’s the exact reason I love this notepad from Joy Creative Shop so much! I think you are amazing!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment, sweet Nancy!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  8. I have loved following your gifted advice for a few years now. You provide wisdom on things I didn’t center realize I needed until you shared! Your gift ideas, your travel tips (um, hello Fly Caddy!), and parenting adult kiddo tips are my faves. If I had a recommendation for future content it would be to know more of your wisdom on aging parents.

    Thanks for all you do – and doing it so authentically!

    1. Jennifer,

      Aw, thank you for your sweet comment! I so appreciate your kind words. YESSSSS Fly Caddy! (https://amzn.to/35SgOEI) I LOVE your idea about writing about aging parents. Thank you so much for your helpful feedback and for that terrific idea. I’m so grateful!

      xoxo
      Suzy

  9. Hi Suzy!
    Thanks for the tips and encouragement. I am a person who thrives on routine and likes the familiar, I bet a lot like your husband! My hubby is more adventurous and likes to be more flexible, and will sometimes say that I should try more new things…I tell him that he should be thankful that I like to stick with what I know because I’m sticking with him after 35 years! 🙂

    I still rely on paper for lists…there’s something satisfying about crossing items off the list!! I think the best tip for being productive is getting up and dressed at a fairly consistent time each day. It’s tempting to stay up late and sleep in, or lounge in pj’s all morning, but, to me, getting up and dressed makes me take advantage of that time alone, and then I can be more relaxed when my husband comes home (sometimes he works a half day!).
    And, since you asked, I like your emails the best! I do have Instagram, but am not really into it. I prefer looking at stuff on my computer rather than the phone.
    Have a great day!

    1. Betsie,

      Hahaha! I LOVE what you tell your husband! Your comments were so helpful Betsie! I think it is so great that my emails are your faves. I do take a lot of time with those. (If anyone reading this is not subscribed, you’re missing out on the exclusive content that I only share in my newsletters. You can sign up for them here: https://emptynestblessed.com/subscribe-to-empty-nest-blessed/?swcfpc=1)

      Thanks so much, Betsie, for being such a sweet and faithful follower. I appreciate you more than you know!

      xoxo
      Suzy

      1. Thanks for your kind words! And….I also agree with Jennifer’s comments above!! I bought a FlyCaddy, too, a few years ago because of your recommendation, and I love it!!
        I also think talking about our aging parents would be beneficial. I know yours are far away, as are mine. That puts a different spin on things compared to being local. I realize that many empty nesters don’t have the privilege of still having their parents, but I bet many of us also know some older folks in our community that could benefit from some tips for assisting them. Your gift lists for seniors have been very helpful!!
        Happy Valentine’s Weekend!!

        1. Betsie,

          That is a great suggestion, and I appreciate your two cents! I will start thinking and praying about a post like that. It’s a tender subject, and I want to handle it with care.

          xoox
          Suzy

  10. One of the good things about the Empty Nest is flexibility. You may plan what you will do for the day, but God may take you in an entirely different direction, and it’s ok! Most things can be kicked to another day.

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