Friday, July 15, 2011

Structure and Routine in Retirement

One would think that the title of this post is the last thing I would write about.  I am, by nature, a free spirit when it comes to getting things done.  I move, create and work as the mood strikes. One day I may spend a whole day on a project or interest, while then next day I may move between three projects. Another day I may do nothing but read and sit in the sun.

Truth is, though, that I am able to live this lifestyle because I have a few basic routines and structures.  For many, especially the newly retired, these may be the last words they want to hear.  Admittedly, for awhile its comfortable to dress when you like, eat when you like, and generally veg out. Eventually we all need a little routine in our lives to keep us doing the things we want to do, even in retirement.

Little is the operative word at least for me.  By having a few small structures and routines during the day, the rest of my day can go with the flow, as they say. I can move as I am guided.

These are the little ways that I manage to stay organized in the midst of my free spirit, frugal life:
  • I have a few morning routines, probably because I am not a morning person and need all the help I can get.  These include what a friend once called "opening up the house" (opening curtains and blinds, changing thermostat controls and the like), I also do something to my bed, force myself to eventually change clothing, and have my cold caffeine out on the patio in peace. Lastly, I always decide on dinner and take items out as necessary (my goal is no restaurant meals, and this requires planning for me not to be unhappy).
  • My other daily routines generally fall around other traditional mealtimes.  After lunch is when I do my meditation and praying, and take a few minutes to throw things into the wash as needed.
  • I force myself to do no "work related" activities after dinner as a rule. Since designing quilts is an avocation as well, this rule occasionally gets shot by the wayside. In general though, I keep my evenings free for reading, movie watching, going for walks, visiting and the like. I have also found that this helps with sleep issues.
  • I do all my errands on one day, during the week, and I never, ever, do errands on the weekend. I save them all for once a week, get them done, enjoy the time out and return to my nest.  I have enough outlets that I don't feel the need to escape from the house however. If you feel closed in, scheduling regular outings may help. I have three regular "social events" or meetings a week and prefer to be home the rest of the time.
  • My basic day to day cleaning is of the incidental variety( basically meaning I clean up after myself and as I go) and my major cleaning is of the fly lady variety (once a week I deep clean parts of one room or area as I have the time or the mood strikes and the next week I'm off to a different room). Because I have dogs my vacuum is my friends.
  • I keep the weekends for weekends as much as possible and Sunday is sacrosanct. Even in retirement, I feel a need to have a single day with no obligations or commitments other than church, when I can justify reading the paper as an accomplishment.
That's it. Those little bits of structure are the only points in my day, and I've been known to lose them all except for that morning hour on occasion. Other than these little glimpses of structure, my day is filled with................whatever the mood strikes!

What about you. Do you prefer routine to your days, or would you rather let the day move you?


  1. I like routine, but try my best to remain flexible. Mornings are always the same: about an hour with breakfast and the laptop catching up on e-mail, blog comments, Twitter stuff, and other computer-oriented stuff.

    Lunch is usually close to 11AM and a trip to the gym is around 1PM. A glass of wine at 4 and dinner by 5:30 wrap up the day. Nights are for writing, watching a movie, or reading.

    I do a half day of prison ministry volunteer work on Mondays, have a men's meeting at church Tuesday night, and food shop on Thursdays.

    Otherwise, the day flows as it wants to.

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