November 14, 2012

The Week That Was

You may remember a 1960's TV show called That Was The Week That Was. A satirical look at the previous week's news hosted by David Frost, the program started on the BBC in England in 1962. An American version lasted for two seasons on NBC. This was the forerunner of shows like Saturday Night Live. It poked fun, gentle and otherwise, at people, policies, and general stupidity. It was kind of like a more sophisticated version of Mad Magazine or Laugh In.

My weekly life wouldn't really qualify for an hour of network TV. There is quite an interest, however, in how retired folks spend their time. A few previous posts have generated lots of comments. So, I thought I'd track a week of my satisfying retirement to give you some idea of where my time goes.

I've left out most of the mundane activities of living since they bore even me. With fresh blog posts three times a week (Monday, Wednesday & Friday) I do spend 2-3 hours per day on writing, editing, proofing, and keeping up with blog issues.

See if my Week That Was resembles yours in any way:

Monday:  this is usually my favorite day of the week since everything starts fresh. I start this, and most days, with the laptop answering blog comments, thinning out my e-mail in box, deleting spam, checking news headlines and the weather.

Now that it is cooler, a walk with Bailey, our cocker spaniel, often takes place sometime after breakfast. Then, back to the computer for more blogging and other office work.

This is the day I often have lunch with my father. That means wearing something nicer than my normal jeans and old T-shirt. He insists on eating right at 11:00 AM when the dining room opens, so by 10:30 Betty and I are on the road for the 30 minute drive to his apartment.

Upon our return it is my daily nap time, followed by chores around the house, more office work, and a trip to the gym. By mid afternoon I can usually find some time to read a book for pleasure. I also do my personal Bible reading everyday just before dinner time.

This is the night Bailey has dog training class so we eat an early dinner before the 7 O'Clock class begins.

Relaxing with a movie or old TV show on Netflix happens most evenings, followed by nightly guitar practice and then reading before bedtime.

Lights out no later than 10:15 PM.

Tuesday: Betty has Bible study at church so I have all morning to play with the dog, work on the blog and computer and run errands. I will readily admit my Tai Chi is rather infrequent, but this day, as well as Friday, seem to work best.

A trip to the library to return or pick up books, yard work, and my weekly list of house chores will take some of the afternoon.

I have a men's Bible study in the evening so Betty gets her quiet, private time to work on photo editing or other projects.

Wednesday: Both of us begin with an early Bible discussion group at a friend's house. Today is the day we finalize the menu and food shopping list.

This is the day for my guitar lesson.

I have a once a week ham radio net in the evening. A group of fellow hams meet on the radio to answer trivia questions about 1960's music and TV shows. Since I earned my living playing that music, the other fellows ask that I go last since I rarely miss a song title or group name.

Thursday: Once a month I have a trip to a state prison with some other volunteers from the prison ministry organization I work with. On those days I leave the house at 6:00 AM and return around 7:00 PM.

Two other Thursdays per month Betty and I attend a small group meeting in the evening.

This is also the day we do our weekly food shopping, usually together unless I am on the prison trip.

Time for computer work, reading, guitar practice, and house chores is often non-existent today.

Friday: This day is often free of other commitments, so I tend to work on the blog, tackle weekend house chores, run errands as needed, read, and write.

Evenings are spent with a movie and popcorn.

Saturday & Sunday: A list of house and yard chores, shopping, and laundry are typical. Saturday afternoon might be spent at a movie or a local festival or event. Saturday is normally when we see the grandkids and family.

Sunday is my day to stay away from the computer as much as possible. We spend almost 4 hours at church in the morning and then have personal projects, watching football, or planning our next RV trip. If there is any maintenance or cleaning of the RV that should be done, today is the day.

Evenings are family time with Netflix and reviewing our schedule for the upcoming week.

Of course, add in all the normal things folks do like haircuts, doctor and dentist appointments, taking out the trash, making the bed, emptying the dishwasher, going to the bank, playing with Bailey, and days seem to just disappear.

Even with 168 hours a week, there never seems to be enough time to:
  • go to the gym on a consistent basis
  • simply relax in our backyard
  • keep the house as organized and decluttered as we prefer.

Oh well, I'm sure I'm not alone with this problem.

So, there is my week. What about you? Fully, or partly retired, what do you do with your time? How do you squeeze it all in?


  1. Hi Bob, what a comprehensive list. I found myself thinking again about how my precious time is spent as I read your post. I try to start each week day with a trip to the gym so that physical exercise gets attention first. My time at the computer usually gets split -- one session with email on my iPad as I drink my morning coffee and more serious time for writing after dinner. I try to devote some time every afternoon to something that is pure enjoyment for me which is where I sometimes need to make compromises for errands, household chores or cooking. Many who are retired say they don't know how they had time to work -- I certainly agree! Thank goodness for this wonderful phase of life and for the health to enjoy it fully.

    1. So right ...our health is a necessary commodity.

    2. One of the reasons I am so excited about the RV we just bought is how it lets us separate from our daily routine and schedules. Sure, the stuff is still there when we get home, but it is so nice to step off the world for a time. And, yes, health is so important to having it all work.

  2. Right there with you. When we retired in June and made the move to Sun City Arizona, I wondered how we would fill our time. Well, that lasted about a month. Now I wonder how I could have ever wondered about that. :-)
    We decided that besides the usual things like grocery shopping, appointments etc., that we would each select 3 things to do. One would center around a "brain activity" one would be physical and one would be just plain fun. So I selected, learning to play mahjongg (a brainer for sure), swimming and ceramics (fun). My husband is a clay potter, hikes with a club now and plays chess. Life is busy and full. Our together time is spent relaxing, going to social events or travel.
    Life is good! Cindy

    1. I like the 3 things idea. I don't think I'll be able to restrict myself to just three activities, but the overall idea of balance between brain, physical,and fun is something to strive for.

  3. I find that my schedule depends a great deal on the season and the weather. Warmer weather = golf twice a week, busking (street performing) outside, and LOTS of yard work. Cold weather times = more reading, more socializing, more difficulty in getting exercise (despite the gym availability).

    Routines and schedules, with a generous helping of variety, are good things IMO. Thanks.

    1. Of course in this part of the country we are just the opposite, but your point about seasonality having an effect on schedules is absolutely true. As we cool down (is 78 degrees cool?) I find myself looking for reasons to be outside, if only for a picnic or a visit to the Japanese Gardens. That becomes my spice of variety.

    2. Very True Bob, I do sneak some volunteering in there too.

  4. What a great post! I retired in March & over the last few weeks have realized that I need to do a "re-boot" (start over!) on my schedule. I may or may not be an overachiever, but I am certainly an overscheduler. I have family members reminding me about this all the time....& you have confirmed it. Time to plan more effectively & most importantly practice the word "no" & consciously look for more opportunities for OTHERS to contribute & fewer opportunities for ME to do something. While I am out doing whatever I am doing, especially volunteer work (which is important, I'm not denying that) the house is getting dirty (not just a little messy) I am finding I have no time for exercise/ planning what I eat & the priorities I set are unfinished.

    Retirement is awesome! & one of the best benefits is the ability for me to re-set my life & my priorities.

    I like what Banjo Steve said, "Routines and schedules, with a generous helping of variety...." This would make a good mantra for me.

    1. A regular re-boot is one of the constants I have found in 11+ years of retirement. Over time things that captivated me are replaced by other interests or activities. Rather than pile them on top of each other, I am getting better at shedding things that were important but aren't now.

      Just in the last few weeks I have stopped two activities that no longer add to my life. Plus, I have cut way back on the amount of time I spend watering pots and pruning plants by eliminating those that are in parts of the yard I normally don't look at. Over time I have realized I can enjoy our backyard without having to maintain 40 pots all winter.

  5. What fun to have a glimpse into your daily life. The regularly scheduled part of my week revolves around taking care of my grandson two afternoons a week, and going to martial arts class four times a week. I usually visit my sons either Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I try to get up to the cabin once every three or four weeks. Writing takes up several hours a week, too, but I don't have a regular schedule for blog-related activities. I usually go to church Sunday morning. And I try to spend some time every morning first thing in prayer and meditation. That's about it.

    1. Our schedule will probably undergo a shift when we get into RV trips more often. But, both Betty and I are more comfortable with regularity. Someday we'll show you our Google calendar and Betty can show you her day planner. It can get scary!

      Honestly, I have been giving some thought to either a blogging sabbatical of a month or cutting back to just 2 posts a week instead of three. But, I have worked hard to build the readership this blog is generating and I'm somewhat fearful of major slippage if I take either of those steps. I enjoy blogging quite a bit, but there are days when I'd like to just leave the computer off!

    2. Hey, I know about your daily calendar. I still remember your entry about going to the bookstore to browse! Blog success can be a mixed blessing, can't it? Sometimes I'm relieved that I am not in your league. It takes the pressure off. I will say, though, that I have seen a couple of bloggers at your level who have taken a few weeks off, and have regained readership quickly, without lasting impact. Just a thought.

  6. I guess I am a big list maker but not a big planner. I do have the soup kitchen two days a week but other than that most everything else is unplanned. When I have a spurt of creativity I am blogging sometimes all day. I often generate six or more posts at a time. When my creativity is down I might not touch the keyboard that day except for emails and such. I can't plan when I am going to be in the "groove". When the grass needs mowing it get mowed; I don't plan it for a certain day of the week. When a nap seems more valuable than going grocery shopping I put off the shopping for another time.

    To me being unplanned is what retirement is all about. In my work life I was constantly having to generate detailed product development plans. I hated them but they had to be done in order to mesh with the needs of the organization. When I retired I threw away my watch and vowed to freestyle through my retirement life. I haven't been disappointed with the results thus far.

    Of course I do plan things like vacations but not the daily stuff. Maybe that is just me....

    1. I wish I could be comfortable in the freestyle approach but it would raise my stress level too high. I need a structure, even in retirement. I guess one's basic personality doesn't change no matter what the external circumstances!

    2. When I retired, rj, I too "threw away" my watch. Still, I do like to have a daily list of "wanna-do's" along with a (hopefully smaller) list of "gotta'do's". Some, like me, enjoy having some sort of structure. I love the idea of having the kind of discipline that liberates.

  7. I think I'll take it easy and continue to work.

  8. Bob, I would miss your posts if you cut back! I like RJ's idea and I did it myself when i was doing a daily blog at one time: Write 2-3 posts at a time when you're feeling especially prolific or have a few ideas, then use the extras to post on days you want a break.Just a thought. I tend to like some structure also-- or else I find i have frittered away too much time and essential stuff doesn't get done then I scramble to play "catch up!"

    1. I usually am at least 3 posts ahead so I am never in a position that I need something for tomorrow morning. I think RJ just passed 1,000 written posts...he obviously has a lot to say!

      For some reason I have struggled a bit for topics this month. Maybe it is because Betty and I have been so wrapped up in the RV purchase and everything that goes with that.

    2. Then maybe you should be writing about your new RV. :-)

      It's such fun to re-live this event with you two, reminding me of going through this ourselves seven years ago, then again earlier this year when we upgraded.

      Tell Betty that I still get excited each and every time we take our trailer out. Even after all these years, it's still just as exciting as our very first trip.

    3. I have passed on your thoughts. She is having a ball decorating and stocking R.T. We are having changes made to the side yard so we can park the RV here instead of paying a monthly storage fee.

  9. You pack a lot into your week, and the lesson I'm learning is that I have to get more focused and more organized, because it seems as if half my week just disappears, and I can't account for what I've done. Hmmm, maybe I'll start a list.

    1. Sometimes I wish I could be a bit more like some of the commenters who are more relaxed about their schedules, but that just doesn't seem to work for me.

    2. Being unplanned does not, at least to me, mean I don't have things to do. Almost everyday for the last 42 years I have made a list of what I did that day. It started out on 3x5 index cards (I have about a 1 foot tall pile of them!!) and then migrated to computer calendar apps. So, like I said I am a list maker but not a daily planner now.

      I try to knock off at least three things on my to-do list daily and at the end of the week I review what I accomplished. I just find that somedays I am in the mood for one thing and the next day for another. I let that mood/creative spurt drive my day instead of a pre-planned list. It amazes me still that there are some days that I absolutely don't want to think about anything and then there are others where it is literally spewing out the top of my head (I know, not a graphic you wanted in your mind).

      I go with the flow as they say :)


    3. While the spewing image at 6:45 in the morning is stronger than my coffee, I understand completely. There are times when I can't contain all the ideas and other periods when I don't seem to be able to generate any. I need to accept those dry spells as part of the process.

      Thanks, RJ. I really hope my RV travels will someday find me in your neck of the woods. I could learn a lot from you.

  10. Hi, Bob...

    My problem is to not let the have-to-do's swallow up all my time so that there's none left for want-to-do's. My solution (a carryover from my worklife) is lists, lists, lists! Not for everyone but it certainly works for me.

    I have 4 basic lists: weekly chores (14 items), monthly chores (18 items), home repair and improvement, and special projects (one-off items that will take some time to do.) Then I have my weekly "mbo" calendar, onto which I overlay/schedule doing items from the lists. I limit the daily time for have-to-do's to 7am-1pm, with maybe an hour +/- each evening for paperwork on a lap desk while watching a movie(something I started in high school). This leaves me plenty of time to relax or do fun things (like go take a hike, etc) in a time block (4 hours or more) large enough to be meaningful to me.

    Oh, and I can often give myself a full day off once a week -- minus the daily "hard-wired" have-to-do's such as feeding all my critters and clearing the kitchen (which btw are not on the weekly chore list).

    This system allows me to pace my work (for example, 2 weekly chores a day) while having "permission" to enjoy leisure time without the stress and guilt that would otherwise come from feeling I wasn't getting enough done and/or would not get my obligations fulfilled in time (whatever that means).

    Too structured? Maybe. But I'm a person that needs to feel in control --and one that would fill all his time with work items if I did not have a schedule/plan that specifically assigns me free time to fill in with a leisure activity while assuring me that I am still working "enough".

    How do you like them apples? :-)

    1. There might be something in this I can adapt. I would like to figure out a way to clear my afternoons without packing my mornings too tightly.

      I have been a big list maker for my whole life so making your system work for me wouldn't be too difficult.