Schedules, Plans, and Organization: A Life in Retirement

I just finished reading a biography of George Washington (Patriarch), the first president of the United States. Washington’s retirement was a period of his life that is especially interesting for me as I am coming up to that period in my life once again.

Besides worry about finances, Washington had numerous relatives that he assisted in one way or another – often financially even though he was relatively strapped for cash, but also with the advice that those of us who reach old age are apt to give quite freely.

To his grandson, a young man who was less than energetic in advancing himself, Washington wrote, “System in all things should be aimed at, for in execution it renders everything more easy.” After some specific advice on how to deal with his days, Washington concluded his letter by noting, “Time disposed of in this manner makes ample provision for exercise and every useful or necessary recreation.; at the same time that the hours allotted for study, if really applied to it instead of running up and down stairs and wasted in conversation with anyone who will talk with you, will enable you to make considerable progress in whatever line is marked out for you…”

Right, schedules, plans and organization. It seems to me, just from the short periods that I have been retired during my several attempts at such a life, that it is exactly this organization that is needed in order to stay happy, alert and productive once the routines and adventures of employment are passed. I’ve been working on a new set of routines myself over the past two weeks of my last vacation before retirement.

I’ve had a number of conversations with other expats who are reaching, or have already reached, retirement about how to adjust to this new stage of life. When I retired last year, I made a long list – about 41 points, if I remember correctly – of projects that I wanted to work on during my retirement. Similar to my approach to teaching – always better to over plan than under plan – there was no way that I was going to get to all of the activities that I had planned, but I was never going to be at a loss for something productive to engage my somewhat restless nature.

septemberseaSo, what are the routines that I’ve come up with? Here’s a look at the schedule that I’ve worked out.

5:00 – Wake my wife who then makes breakfast for the kids and gets them off to school. I go back to sleep for two hours.
7:00 – I wake up, open all the windows to my office/bedroom, put the bedding and pillows out on the balcony to air out, and check email and websites. If the sea is good, I go snorkeling for an hour.
8:00 – My wife and I have breakfast together and discuss what needs to be done for the day.
9:00 – I go upstairs to clean the third floor and then work on whatever writing project I have.
11:00 – I watch the news for an hour while answering correspondence.
13:00 – My wife and I go out and do whatever errands we have for the day such as going to the bank, shopping, or whatever else there is for the two of us to do.
14:00 – I read for an hour.
15:00 – I take an hour nap.
16:00 – I work on my writing projects again.
17:30 – The children usually come up to the third floor to watch the sunset and talk.
18:30 – Family dinner
19:30 – I retire upstairs to watch TV and edit whatever I have written during the day.
21:00 – I get all the children ready for bed, check on what they have planned for the next day, and then watch TV or read.
24:00 – I go down to the family room to wake up my wife who has already been asleep there for several hours and we go upstairs to sleep.

This is the basic structure of a regular day. Sundays are somewhat different as the kids don’t have school, and I often go fishing with Sam in our little sampan, or we go snorkeling together. On Sunday evenings, the kids come up to the third floor and we watch a movie together.

I’ve found that the days are most satisfying when organized in this way: I’m engaged and generally happy because I’m happiest when I’ve felt that I’ve accomplished something and there is some order in the world.

Do other retired expats have schedules that they adhere to? Let me know.

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~ by drbrucepk on September 30, 2009.

2 Responses to “Schedules, Plans, and Organization: A Life in Retirement”

  1. Dear Dr. Bruce,
    Not quite retired yet but an unemployed teacher in Bali. I do have ambitions though and quite happy with your idea of making a schedule to use my time adequately. Unhappy that I didn’t think of it myself!

  2. Thanks for the comment. Schedules do help me keep on track over here. It’s too easy to just get lazy when you’re living in the tropics.

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