One of the questions I get asked on a fairly regular basis is what a typical day of my satisfying retirement looks like. The answer I usually give is there are no typical days. Except for beginning each morning with breakfast and answering blog comments and e-mails, there is no set routine. I have made a determined effort over the last few years to not have my calendar look like it did when I was working.
True, I have a to-do list of things I must or want to accomplish each day:things like reminding me to empty the trash and roll out the cans, refill a prescription, finish a post, water the pots...the basic stuff of a day. But, my calendar doesn't say when when I must do these things. That happens when it happens.
I have tried a more structured approach: guitar playing from 10-10:30, take out trash at 1:00 and so forth. But, I'd never follow the times listed. Eventually, I realized there was no reason for the tasks to be completed at a certain time of the day so I just dropped that silliness completely.
There is one area, though, that I can't quite get a comfortable feel for: when to get up in the morning. I guess it is part of my personality but I have always believed that the "early bird gets the worm." Over the years, both before and after retirement, I have tried getting up at various times. My body quickly tells me it isn't happy with some of my choices. For a while the alarm went off at 5:00 am. By mid morning I was ready for a nap, which kind of defeated the purpose. I've experimented with 5:30 with similar results.
I had always heard that older folks (I qualify by now) need less sleep. I have a friend who wake up at 2:00 in the morning and spend a few hours on the computer or reading. Another fellow can't sleep past 4:30. I, on the other hand, am finding I am sleeping later. Being awakened by the alarm just after 6 O'clock seems like the middle of the night. Recently, Betty and I have been getting up sometime between 7 and 7:30 if there is no morning appointment.
Am I turning into a sludge? Am I missing a few valuable hours each day because I am lazy? Should I follow the old bromide that I can sleep when I'm dead?
Steve Pavlina is a superb blogger, writer, and self development teacher. Among his thousands of interesting articles are several on becoming an early riser. Clearly he is of the "get up before the sun" contingent. He makes it clear he links success in life with being an early riser.
Two posts of his that I have re-read several times are How to Become an Early Riser Part 1 and How to Become an Early Riser Part 2. He provides specific steps that anyone can take to gain control over the time one's day begins. I read these, feel guilty, and try again to get up early. Each time I cannot pull it off. As he suggests, I go to bed when I am tired but can't master the getting up early part.
So, my question to you is simple: when do you wake up on a normal morning? Are you the the type that hits the ground running even before the birds are awake, or do you enjoy a slow start that puts a premium on lingering in bed as long as you dare? Have you found a way to adjust your schedule that works for you?
Even if every single comment is from someone who has checked the Internet, jogged 5 miles, and read three chapters of War and Peace before the sun comes up, I am not likely to try the early bird route again. But, as the responses in my new book, Living a Satisfying Retirement, make clear all of us have a unique way to make the most of our days. I love to read how others use their time and make the most of their retirement journey.
So, tell us!