November 6, 2013

Retirement Advice: 5 Ways I Could Streamline My Day



A few weeks ago I shared my RV trip frustration over sporadic Internet service. After many anguished hours I finally realized connecting to the Internet is not worth ruining the precious time I get to spend on the road with my wife and lovable dog, Bailey. I promised myself to keep my priorities in proper order: important stuff first, unimportant stuff whenever!

That got me to thinking of a few other ways I have attempted to stay focused on ridding my day of  unimportant concerns. These simple suggestions have been offered by readers over the years and continue to resonate with me...maybe with you, too. I will note that I struggle with two of these every single day.

1) Don't read e-mails, blog comments, or social media threads first thing in the morning. This is an excellent suggestion, and one I cannot bring myself to implement. Try as I might I grab the laptop first thing every morning to check on blog comments, e-mails, and top news stories, sometimes before I even get a cup of coffee.

Now that the weather is finally cooling off here in the desert maybe I can at least have breakfast on the back porch before I plunge back into the Internet. No promises, but I'll try.

2. Cancel any magazine subscription if it sits unread for more than 60 days. Here is a de-clutter suggestion I have been able to implement. From a dozen magazines we are down to four. They are read within two weeks of receiving them and then recycled.

3. Set smartphone to only update feeds every 2 or 3 hours instead of every 30 minutes. This is so simple to do. I know exactly where the setting is. But, three hours? That is a lifetime! At least I have turned off the notification sound so every time I get a new email a beep or blurt doesn't announce the fact. I have been known to go a full 45 minutes without checking the inbox.

4. Don't attend club or organization meetings just because you think you are "supposed to." I have gotten much better with this. Over the last several years I have stopped going to a club that no longer interested me, eliminated a weekly men's gathering, and given up one volunteer activity that had become unsatisfying. I had been doing it so long I was stale and not performing my function well.

5. Group errands together. Try for no more than 2 days a week. I do pretty well with this one. In fact, I celebrate when I go an entire day without having to leave the house in a car. Where we live it is relatively easy to plot out a route that allows me to hit various stops as I follow a circular route, taking care of a chore at each location. I used to make a separate run to the library, then decide later I needed to go to the bank, and then Home Depot had a needed something. Now, those three make a perfect loop so all are done in one trip, saving me several miles and probably 40 minutes of wasted driving.


I will make a valiant effort on #1 and #3 above, but will not stress out if I fall short. After all, a satisfying retirement really is a work in progress.

24 comments:

  1. One of the nice things about retirement is that I can go with the flow. I don't have to worry about spending three hours on this and then two hours on that. I find I am most productive in the mornings. I guess my brain is not yet full of the day. So, that is when I blog and do other creative type things.

    Number 4 is the most meaningful thing on your list for me. Don't do things simply because that is the way you have always done them. Instead find things you are passionate about and spend your time on them. If you don't know what you really interests, you instead of continuing to do things the same , do at least a couple of new things each week until you find that thing that you want to spend more time on.

    In other words don't get stuck doing something you really don't like doing and someone else just might do it better than you if they had the opportunity. To me the secret to a satisfying retirement is always having something that you are passionate about. Something that causes you to leap out of bed every morning.

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    1. I will be leaving a group next spring that no longer satisfies me. I should have left a year ago but couldn't bring myself to do so until now. It isn't easy.

      I am looking for my next leap-out-of-bed passion. I seem to be between passions at the moment.

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  2. I agree totally with Number 1- as I read this at 8 AM!
    Jeff in OK

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    1. I read the first comment at 6:15 AM...not a good sign.

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  3. I guess things change as you get older - usually I say Leap-In-Bed passion. I guess I am just not ready for retirement yet! Just a little humor to keep the day going.

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    1. That's my problem! Leap-in-Bed solves everything.

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  4. No. 1 - one of my worst habits!

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    1. Last night I forgot to charge my laptop and my phone...maybe God's way of saying #1 is important.

      If so, why did He make the power cable so easily available?

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  5. Yes, volunteer work can change for you. I have been a volunteer for various activities all my adult life. Some things just stop working, don't they? Hospice work did not work out for me, but I have been at a food bank, happily, for four years.

    I contribute a very nice sized check every month to our local no-kill dog shelter, but I simply can not work there. I would come home with a dog in each pocket every week.

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    1. My prison work has stopped for now. After over 5 years of a rather stressful, expensive, and often disappointing experience I need a break. The work is still very important but I need a change of scene for awhile.

      I am thinking of mentoring or tutoring a child instead.

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  6. If you reach for the laptop before the coffee, is that a passion? I tend to emails and read blogs first thing in the morning, after coffee. I think it's a vestige to the old work life when I would check emails for direction and feedback upon arriving at work. I like RJ's comment about creating an opportunity for someone to do it better. I think that's what I did when I finally retired - created an opportunity for someone who still had the passion. I live 13 miles out of town and just realized that there are some weeks when I'm traveling to town everyday with one commitment and another. When I was working, being in town was a given, now it's an "extra" trip. I do try to group tasks whenever possible. Now is that efficiency or old age when I don't go up or down the stairs for only one thing?

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    1. Being on the road 150 days a year for 20 years is one of the main reasons I cherish those days when I never leave the house. I just have to be careful that I don't become isolated.

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  7. That guy in your picture's a pushover. There's nothing on those notes! He has it easy. What's he laying down for?

    An alternative to not doing email first thing is to tackle just the ones you were expecting or will move your day along: Charlie set a time for lunch. Sue can't come for dinner Wednesday night. That book I ordered is now backordered. And SKIP all the junk? Good luck with that.

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    1. That's the key to his success, Ed: blank to-do notes.

      I can easy spend 60 minutes or more on just reading and answering comments left for the blog, or promoting the latest posts on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. That is a real chunk out of the start of my day.

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  8. I am always looking for a way to streamline my day, but my problem is household chores and cooking etc. There seems to be so much more to do now that we are at home and it is always staring me in the face whereas I used to be able to go to the office and forget about the undone tasks. I wish I had a place to go every day... an off-site office/studio where I could just do my own thing.. far, far away from laundry and dirty windows. So far the best I can do is to occupy a little corner of the public library now and then.

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    1. I will have a post in a week or so about the importance of shared household duties. With two people at home it is crucial that the workload doesn't become an unfair burden.

      Having a place to go for private time is vital. "Me" time is something that must be protected.

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    2. Judy, if it helps I could have the same problem if I allow myself. in my case I have my one room dedicated to me and I go there. But I also (except for dinner), limit myself to house stuff for only a certain time of the morning-after that, if it isnt done, it isn't done.

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    3. Barb, I like your "if it isn't done, it isn't done" philosophy. Need to try and change my way of thinking. Just had a look at your blog and enjoyed it. I read several posts and plan to go back and read more.

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  9. Bob, for what it's worth, I've been tutoring for a little over a month now and find it very ... satisfying. Check out my post http://sightingsat60.blogspot.com/2013/10/what-tutor-learned.html for an early reaction. In any case, good luck in finding your new reason for leaping out of bed in the morning (although, I think Rake Table's leap-in-bed passion does not involve going to sleep!)

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    1. Prison ministry actually is mostly mentoring and tutoring...activities I enjoy. I will certainly check out your post,. Our church has a program for working with refuge families and inner-city kids that has caught my eye.

      I think you are right about Rake....more power to him.

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  10. I have seriously cut down my online time (and have actually ignored my own blog for the past week for various reasons, unfortunately). The biggest time savers were no screen time in the morning and no screen times on Sunday (except for family skyping). Keeping one day completely free from the net, fully dedicated to family and church and personal time has made a huge difference.

    Of course, its one am here and I am writing this comment in bed!

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    1. Your time stamp on your comment did show you wrote the above just after 1;00 AM this morning., You are definitely a night owl.

      I do try to keep Sundays much more computer-free and it does leave the day feeling less rushed. of course, it helps that I am at Sunday School and church from 7:30-11:00 AM!

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  11. My phone is on my nightstand charging overnight. First think in the morning, before I even get out of bed, I unplug it and read email and facebook updates. I really don't think that's a bad thing. You have a feel for how the day is going to go and get up prepared to face it.
    Other than that, I pretty much go with the flow as much as possible. To me, that's satisfying.
    b

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  12. I do the same thing...delete the junk quickly on the phone before I get out of bed (if the dog will wait that long) and post any new comments. Then, downstairs to the laptop to type responses and the rest of the stuff that is too tough to do on a smartphone keyboard. It is quicker that way.

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