About a year ago - approximately a year after I retired - I found myself floundering through the days, somehow unable to get much done. I checked in with a mental health professional, looking for clues to what the problem could be. “I just can’t seem to work out a schedule and stick to it,” I heard myself tell her.
“So what?” she responded. “You’ve had to follow a schedule your entire working life, and before that, when you were in school, right? You’re retired now. Throw your ‘To Do’ list away and relax. That’s what retirement’s for. To do what you want to do.” Then our hour was up, and I left.
I tried to follow those instructions. No, I didn’t throw out the ‘to do’ list, because I’m a planner, but I became a lot more comfortable with putting off until tomorrow what was originally on last week’s list. I didn’t set my alarm clock to get me up, I didn’t necessarily look at the clock except to see if it was time to start supper for the family.
How was I doing after a year of ‘relaxing’? Umm, not so good. My To Do list was just as long as ever (but that’s to be expected, because almost everything on it gets repeated on some kind of cycle - you can’t clean the oven and never have to clean it again), I was sleeping up to 12 hours a day, and had no energy when I did manage to crawl out of bed. I would vegetate in front of the tv for hours and then wonder what I had watched. This was not my idea of fun.
I had planned to start my ‘new career’ of writing when I retired, and I wasn’t making much progress. Hubby was worried that I was ‘just waiting to die’. No, thank you!
So I checked with my doctor, who sent me for a sleep study. When that didn’t show anything, he had a vampire drain my blood (okay, the technician didn’t take it ALL, but it seemed like she might), and I should have the results from that battery of tests next week. Meanwhile, I revamped my To Do list ... again.
Yes, I am back to a schedule. What happened to ‘relaxing’? I found unending relaxation to be ... boring. Not to mention not getting anything done, and possibly threatening my health. Anyway, there are lots of professional writers who say, “Write every day and at the same time every day.” Sounds like ‘scheduling’ to me. And who am I to argue that something that works for that many professional writers won’t work for me?
So, as I start my third year of retirement, let’s hope I’m on the right path this time. I think I am. Coming up with a schedule I could live with and not get too uptight about has already got me feeling better.
PS - I tried the new schedule today, and instead of finishing 200 or 300 words, I wrote 1,400 words! Yippee!