Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Are You Spending Your Time The Way You Really Want to Spend Your Time?

Most bloggers and readers agree-one of the advantages of of being retired is spending your days the way you want, doing what you want. Sometimes we actually do that. But honestly, sometimes (perhaps more often than we admit), we don't.  I (and other bloggers), spend a fair amount of time talking about being frugal and wise in handling our retirement income. But I wonder if should be considering how we handle our time (and our possessions) through the same microscope.

Some time back, I read this article by a frugal blogger I follow.  While her perspective on being frugal with time has more to do with a different set of goals, in general I feel like her principle applies to most of us. Even those of us in retirement who may not feel the need to be "constructive"". In fact, I have written more than once on the "time vs money" conundrum post versus pre-retirement. But that doesn't mean that I don't think my (our) time has as much value as our money. No matter how we do (or don't in some cases) spend it. And not spending our time can, in my experience, be as valuable as not spending your money.

As most readers know by now, in the fall I pulled back from a variety of social and volunteer obligations-even though I already had a fairly slow life. This was not done easily, especially as I consider volunteering and helping others an essential part of retirement. However, I was not sure that the way I was spending my time was necessarily helping me-or others. College classes, socialization, craft groups, helping the homeless, advocating for refugees and undocumented immigrants and more. All those things had value. But I needed to step back and figure out how to use that time better. Not better exactly, but in ways that meant more to me.

eta: One of the ways I stepped back was on the Internet and social media. Which means for the month of December I did almost nothing (including on my own Richly Retired pages) rarely commented on blogs, even retirement blogs. I' ll slowly be stepping back into this, but more slowly and with more thought as I go.

Doing for the sake of doing, and going for the sake of going had never been my thing, but it felt like sometimes that was what I was doing. And I'm not a person who is afraid of down time or being alone. So it was time to step back. Since then, I have volunteered for a few hours one day a week. I relieve a case worker at a homeless shelter (who works alone at the shelter eight hours a day) so that she can take an hour yoga class with the residents. I felt strongly that I was helping both her and the residents and I needed to continue. I also knit one day a week.

My goal now is to decide what's important in terms of investing my time, as well as what is necessary and how to fit them into my life. For example, keeping up a house is important. Having a spotless, perfectly up to date house is not important. And the time I spend on the house reflects that (I know of at least one blogger who is proud to say she spends three hours a day just on the cleaning portion of her home. I spend less than a third of that time, and yea, that reflects my values). When it comes to my house, my time is best spend doing things while doing other things (cleaning the kitchen while cooking) and mainly not worrying too much about the rest.

So , yes, there are things that must be done-cooking, basic cleaning, running errands (y'all already know how much I hate running errands) and exercising. Yes, I know many of you love exercising. While my body misses it I could never become addicted to it, nor love it (although the occasional spring and fall solo walk is  form of meditation). I try to do these as efficiently and as little as possible, so that I have time for the other stuff.

And for me, the other stuff is not only doing. Being, just being is very important, as I have shared here more than once. And has value-at least for me. Before I started writing this missive, I spent a full hour sitting, just sitting by my window and thinking and journaling and occasionally talking to my son or the dog. Maybe more than an hour.  Creating is also important to me be it writing, quilting, drawing or whatever-and I need empty space to do that. Scheduling creative time doesn't work for me-so I leave a great deal of empty space  (at home in my own environment) which I can always fill other ways (reading, playing with the dog, watching Netflix).  Socializing is important to me-but in limited amounts. Which is why other than my weekly knitting (and occasional happy hour following) group, I've not added anything to my life so far. Sure, I have occasional church activities and events, but I have yet to try out that writing group, second book group or anything else, even on a monthly level. And until those things call to me, if they ever do, I'm fine. Just fine.

These days, I'm still pretty busy. Or not, depending. Much more of my day is spent at home, which allows me more control of time. I've decided that as long as I exercise every day, pray or meditate, do the basics around the house, and eat healthy, everything else is negotiable-and it's working for me. So far I haven't missed the Olli class, or the bible study, or the other craft group or cooking for my church. Right now, time and location wise, I'm where I want to be.

Admittedly I'm still looking for that volunteer gig, and missing that time spent. But after looking inwards I've decided I'm probably better advocating, both on a specific issue (refugees and immigrants) and in terms of the coming election. How that will happen, and where my time will be spent is still open. I want those hours to matter in a large sense, and to feel like I've made an intense difference for both me and those causes. Which I why I wait until I know I've found my "calling" to invest my time. Because it will probably be a fair amount of time. At home possibly, but time nonetheless.

And because I've decided that travel is valuable to me again, and how I want to spend a small part of my time, I'll be committing hours (and days) to that direction. But said travel will be more "local", more "relaxation based" and as much about visiting old and new friends as new experiences. Heck I'm even gonna let Amtrak do the driving!

And now, at eleven thirty, I suppose it's time to get dressed and do at least a couple of those "need to do things today".

Are you spending your retirement days the way you thought you would? Do you wish you were spending them in a different way? Do you manage and track your time the way you do your money?

14 comments:

  1. Last year got waaaaay too busy, as I decided I could do real estate "part time" and still be retired.YIKES! What was I thinking. After 4 months I found out I had made my very last foray into the world of any work whatsoever. Done.Fini. THIS year, I have no big commitments and I am keeping it that way. I don't track my time. I do whatever creative things i want to on any given day.Today I am finishing up watching a documentary about bees and honey industry, I am cooking up 2 days of vegan meals, I'm crafting a colorful family cookbook I want to make for myself, and I am finishing a book I started a couple of days ago.Ken goes to a discussion group tonight and I will pull out the next episode of my Masterclass with James Patterson. Tomorrow: Who knows? Exercise and cooking will be in there but I'll wait and see..I've had a cold and been housebound for days, feel like tomorrow I can take a walk around the neighborhood.. We do track money but I think I've finally figured out the freedom of having my TIME TO MYSELF is what retirement is all about for me.. no more over-scheduling...

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    1. I really will have to chedk out master class, it's just that I have so much stuff on the great courses plus already and craftsy unlimited that I know I'll never even get to, if ya know what I mean. Yes, I agree, time to myself.

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    2. I bought my master class a year ago and just got to it!!!!!!

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  2. 3 things stood out to me.
    1. no one has ever said on their death bed, Gee I sure wish I had cleaned more. Heaven's everyone likes a nice home but you must live first to make a warm home to come home to!
    2. will i too want that much regimen when I finally get to retire?
    3. I am in constant motion. Lists of to do's and have to's. Running 100 mph and not enjoying it all. It is swirling all around me so the idea of just being and having the luxury of having to make a plan for my days sounds just damn glorious. I can't wait, I'm a bit jealous.

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    1. Yep, I will never be that cleaned more gal. Some people do want regmen, some dont. for the longest time, I thought I did. Now my main goal is time to myself, as long as I get that other stuff. And let me tell, kissing that alarm good bye for life is an experience by itslef.

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  3. So wishing we still had Amtrak. What a great way to get around. I spend about 5 hours on Tuesdays volunteering at the animal shelter, but I miss volunteering at a literacy place. But then I think about getting too scheduled, and I don't like that idea. I guess I'm still searching for the perfect blend of volunteering and free time.

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    1. It's a tough balance. I have two issues that I feel frightening passionate about, so it's not the what for, its the how does it fit in my lifestyle. I do plan on making beds, though, lots of doggie beds.

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  4. I am a list person, but really when I think about it while my house is clean.....I don't spend a great deal of time cleaning it. Mornings are spent taking my walk and then cleaning. Afternoons and evenings are spent doing whatever I want for the most part. I will never say my home is spotless because there is usually a pile of books and yarn by my favorite chair, and the small table usually hold all manner of items from straight pins, to sewing needles, to yarn needles.

    God bless.

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  5. Before I retired, I could never fathom out why so many people who had would let slip that awful phrase: "I don't know how I ever found the time to work." Then I retired and found it slips out of my mouth occasionally too!

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    1. Doesnt it? And what's really funny is I only worked about eight years in total in my marriage-but that may be why I can find so much stuff to do now!

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  6. This is totally off your point but I wondered if you had ever written about being a widow? My husband is terminally ill and I'm lost. Sherry

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    1. Sherry, I have not written much, but I am about to include a series, starting wth when I found my husband was terminally ill (those of us who have or have had ill spouses tend to have very different experiences from those who lose family to a heart attack or accident). Most of the few articles I did write were on how not to treat the surviving spouse or things not to say to the other part, but it's now ten years and I feel I can give a better perspective.

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  7. I enjoy reading your blog even though I don't comment much. I just have to comment on Sherry's request. Sherry, after he is gone, go to a Griefshare group. Check it out at Griefshare.org for a location. Friends of mine have gone and really appreciate it. It helps. Blessings on you and also, for Barb.

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  8. I enjoy your free spirit. You are engaged in a variety of activities which fill your life and as you have found, those activities tend to change over time. You touch a variety of topics with your interests...physical, mental, crafts, beauty, personal, etc. What a full life you have. Diane

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Thanks for stopping by to comment. I love to hear from others, love to hear all points of view, and all comments are welcome. Just leave the profanity and insults at home, OK? Thanks!!

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