Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Importance of Routine

I have now been officially retired for a week, but I feel almost as busy as when I worked full time. The main difference is that I’m fitting my “new life” activities (i.e. writing and related social media duties), as well as my discovery activities (research on future opportunities), into the hours I used to spend at the office. Previously, I would disappear into my writing study after dinner for a few hours several days a week, but at this point, I’m trying to leave my evenings free to spend with OG.

The first major challenge I’ve faced in my new life is figuring out what to do when, and my first decision was to turn off the alarm clock. I don’t make many resolutions, but in 2013, I resolved never to get up at 5:40 a.m. to attend a marketing meeting again. Ever. I have turned my back on that part of my old life with unrepentant glee.

However, I still want to be productive. In fact, it’s even more important now that I’m working for myself than when I was drawing a paycheck. Retirement has not altered my basic psychological makeup. I want to enjoy what I’m doing, but I need to see evidence of concrete accomplishment. And to do that, I need routine; I need a schedule. The schedule can be flexible, but every day needs a framework.

One of my first fears when I quit my job was that I would no longer know what day of the week it was. A prominently placed calendar would solve that problem, but what really worried me was that the days would blend together and time would lose its structure. That might appeal to some, but not to me.

Certain things happen at certain times on certain days at our house. Since OG has been home alone during the week for several years, he already has a well-established routine. He runs errands and exercises in the morning; Monday is trash day; Thursday and Sunday are laundry days, etc. I made a point not to interfere while I was working, and I don’t plan to start now. We both derive a measure of comfort from the constant rhythm of the week. My challenge is to create a structure for my days that complements OG’s yet allows me to meet my own goals.

Afternoons have always been my most productive writing time (OG likes to nap), so I plan to continue to work on creative projects in the afternoon. The business of the day—errands, housework, correspondence, social media, etc.—will be relegated to the morning. I’m used to exercising after work, so I plan to stick to that schedule and work out before starting dinner.

So far, this plan seems to be working for both of us. We’ll see how it evolves as I take on additional new projects and OG develops new interests. The Second Half is definitely a work in progress.

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