Mental Clock

I’m not sure why it took 66 years and 3 months of retirement to figure out that something I’ve read about for years but never applied to myself is not only true but suddenly blatantly obvious. I’ve discovered that not only is it smart to take breaks now and again from tasks but in order to be productive, I need to schedule those breaks into my day in solid, non-negotiable blocks of time.  If I don’t, I procrastinate about projects that are going to require chunks of time and lots of concentration. I either end up refusing to work on them, wasting time with useless errands or distractions that lead to frustration at my own laziness, or forcing myself to sit in the chair and work on them until I’m so exhausted that I’m making mistakes (that I then use as my justification for procrastinating the next time around).

I’m not sure why I never noticed exactly how vital breaks are to my ability to complete my tasks. Maybe while I was still working, I moved from project to project to keep things fresh without being consciously aware that I was working “brain breaks” into my day or maybe I took breaks to chat with co-workers and that was enough to let a part of the working brain recoup. Who knows?

In any case, it finally occurred to me that I don’t have to plop my butt down in the chair and stay glued to it until I’m finished. I don’t even have to complete things the same day. What a concept. I found that if I allow myself an hour and a half (two if I want to push it) to work on a gnarly task, then not only change what I’m working on but also the environment I’m in, I’m capable of returning refreshed and approach the task with a whole new attitude. I complete things twice as fast and with less errors. I’m slowly developing a method that works really well for me: spend an hour and a half working on a major project, leave the house and go to the gym, head to Starbucks and work on a different project – editing an article for the aromatherapy journal, reading a magazine, creating webinars for my online series, return home and tackle that initial project for a bit more, take another break to watch some television and do some knitting, or do prep work for a new recipe, then circle around one last time to that first task. I’ve amazed myself at not only how well that works but also how much fresher I feel at the end of the day.

As I said, I don’t know why it took me so long to learn this but I’m pleased as punch (Southern expression) that I have.

yellow to-do list

Retirement Mental Shift

person-1262046_1280Retirement is a tricky thing mentally. It’s been three months now but I still find that my first reaction to not finishing everything on my day’s to-do list is a sense of panic. Running out of time. Hurry, hurry! But then it kicks in that no, I don’t have to rush and I don’t even have to get everything done the same day. Oddly, I always have to tell myself this little piece of news several times before my mind moves from frantic to relaxed. One day, I’ll laugh it all off and instead take a snooze in the park.

Really the only thing I adjusted to immediately was not setting an alarm, and sleeping until the sky starts to lighten up is pure bliss. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I have two cats who make it very clear that it’s breakfast time but I feel a sense of satisfaction every single morning when I wake up without an alarm clock and it’s not dark outside. I hated getting up in the dark.

The thing I worried about the most has apparently been banished from my subconscious because I never think about it any more – being bored. I’m easily as busy as when I was working. The difference is that I don’t have to look like I’m busy every minute of the day and for 8 hours straight. I can sit back and relax whenever the mood strikes. When I’ve had enough of computer work, I go up to my local   coffee and a bookStarbucks, grab a coffee and either read a book or magazine, or turn my mind to the development of a different project. It’s a great break and helps me come home refreshed and ready for round two. So far, I’m loving retirement and wishing I could’ve afforded to do it years ago.