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?
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