When I semi-retired in late August of 2013, even though I’d be working about half time, I had visions of free minutes dancing in my head. Not as in the free minutes on my phone – the free minutes in my daily life!
Given that I had previously worked 37.5 hours/week and commuted an approximate 15 more, and given that I would, after retirement, be working only about 15-20 hours and commuting most weeks no more than 3 hours, I expected to enjoy a windfall of one thousand seven hundred and seventy minutes per week – 29.5 hours! Where did it all go???
I have often heard retirees say they don’t know how they got anything done when they were still working. I found myself starting to say that, and then I decided to analyze just why it seemed I couldn’t accomplish more now than I did before I retired. My first question was what happened to the personal discipline I wrote about last fall? But then I started looking at what I’ve been doing, and discovered that my time is broken up frequently throughout the day because of the way I agreed to do my contract work – i.e. basically I’m on call all day, responding to issues when they arise, and the only solid blocks of paid work time are when I’m in meetings or on scheduled phone calls. It has been challenging to carve out blocks of uninterrupted time to write and do other writing related activities (like this blog).
So, what to do? I think, on days when I don’t have scheduled meetings, I will have to block out 2-3 hours during which I will be available for anything that comes in, and will also use that time to review and approve or comment on documents. The rest of the day I should focus on personal commitments – primarily writing, but also family, exercise, etc. Otherwise, what I have are bursts of 15 minutes here and 10 minutes there interrupted by calls and responding to emails, most of which, realistically, could wait until my next scheduled block of work time. I’ve never been good at moving in and out of projects quickly – I need to immerse myself, which takes more time than I usually have with my current arrangement. So I guess this has to change.
It isn’t what people are used to with me (can you feel my guilt?) – usually I’m always available when calls or emails come in. But when I retired, my first priority was supposed to be accomplishing the writing I found so hard to do with my full time work/commute schedule. I’ve been finding my frustration level rising as I note the passage of one day after another when I haven’t been able to settle into any aspect of writing, because of interruptions. I’m not sure how well this will go over, but it may be the only way the arrangement can work long term.
Or maybe no one ever really expected me to do it the way I have – after all, I don’t get paid for being “on call.” So maybe, just maybe, it will be a win-win.
Now it is up to me to move past the guilt and (as the Nike ad goes) “JUST DO IT!”