Sunday, October 23, 2011

Priorities



The first things I loved about retirement was that I didn't have to wake up in the morning to the sound of an alarm clock and that I did not have to follow a schedule.  Not having to wake up to a blaring alarm clock--I love that still, pretty sure I always will.  Lately, though, I have been bothered by a lack of schedule--maybe not schedule so much as some kind of routine.  It is almost cliche for retired folks to complain that there is not enough time in the day to fit in everything they want to do, but I have been feeling that.

I have been feeling that I have all these "things" to do and yet that I am spinning wheels and being quite unproductive.  I start one thing and then get distracted by something else that seems important to be doing.  I go out to clean out the car and notice that weeds need to be pulled along the driveway.  I sit down to write and get distracted by the beep of the dryer calling me to fold laundry.  I put water on for a cup of tea and then wander into another room and sit down to read, forgetting the stove is on.

I thought about making a schedule for myself--so many minutes for the crossword, then so many minutes for yardwork, then so many minutes for inside  the house work, then so many minutes for writing, so many minutes for computer time...And that is something that is not going to work.

I knew it was not going to work, but I didn't really figure out why until I read Linda Meyers' post, "Retriement, Year 2."  The penny dropped.  It's not a schedule that I need.  I need to set priorities!  Thank-you, Linda!

I remember when I was working that we would once in a while have a two hour snow delay.  That meant that school would start late so the roads could be cleared.  I would think about how great it was to have that extra time.  I could relax with an extra cup of coffee.  I could start a load of laundry and get a jump on the weekend chores.  I could go out and help shovel snow.  Then I could drive to school and get there early enough to take care of a few things on my desk.  Really, the most productive two hours of my life to date!
Of course what happened inevitably was that I would lose track of time and end up in a mad dash to get to school on time with those two "extra" hours at my disposal.

Having a regular start time, if not an actual clock to punch, was not just a routine.  It was a built in priority.  That, I realize, an epiphany from the thoughts of a sister blogger, is what is missing from my life right now.  I have a long list of things I'd like to accomplish but I have been looking at that list as just a series of items to check off, not assigning weight or value.  Maybe I have always relied on external forces to dictate priorities so I am not accustomed to doing that for myself--but what a revelation!

I have some work to do.  I'm liking the feeling.

9 comments:

  1. I am incredibly routine oriented, which is one of the things that scares me about retirement. I will have to create a routine to be happy.

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  2. Being forced to organize your activities makes sure that you use your time effectively. Now that you no longer have that whip take advantage of all the carrots in front of you.

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  3. I have a routine in retirement, but still leave time for the unexpected or the serendipitous. Checking my day against my priorities is working so far.

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  4. I so adore being retired and volunteering.

    Cheers from Cottage Country!

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  5. I think that not having a schedule is one of the greatest challenges of retirement. I find I do better if I have some sort of schedule, but I also resist setting one. I think Linda's post was quite helpful also because having priorities on how we want to spend our time is more important than having a check list of things accomplished.

    Great post.

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  6. I have a vision of myself in retirement just walking in circles from the sink to the washing machine and dryer to the door to let animals in/out and REPEAT.
    I'd like to think I'd clean closets and things, but . . . I don't know...

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  7. I seem to have lots to do and not enough time - each day is filled to the brim. I do love being retired and not having a schedule.

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  8. Do you think it might also be the change in geography? I can't imagine that Florida ocean doesn't call to you and just mix you up.

    (PS: I've been a neglectful reader of late. I'm working full time this quarter--talk about schedules--and everything else seems to be taking a back seat. It's making me sort of sad, but it must be done.)

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  9. I like to think of my day in two-hour blocks. It takes about two hours for me to drive to the gym for exercise class, shower and drive home. I can handle two hours worth of housework at one time, or two hours worth of yardwork, or two hours worth of working on my website. And if I'm good and diligent, I reward myself with a movie, which takes--wait for it--two hours!

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I appreciate readers' comments so much. You don't even always have to agree with me.