I have been retired for about five years and am enjoying it to the fullest, with the exception of one nagging, repetitious occurrence. Whenever I meet someone new, I cringe when it is revealed that I am retired. Why? Because almost without exception their next remark will be,

"What do you do with all your time?"

At first, I accepted their comment without much consideration, but after this query arose again and again, I began to ask myself just what was I really doing with all my time.

The big advantage about retirement of course is that you can set your own pace and schedule, at least once you finally realize that your life no longer revolves around a personal organizer and alarm clock. Nevertheless, I knew that my days were full, so something must have been happening. The big question was, "what?" If I did a quick recap of my day, the clock time didn't match the events! Where did the missing hours go? Now I was really worried - too much porridge from aluminum pots in my youth? Did I suffer from Spontaneous Nap Syndrome?

To determine this time-warp discrepancy, I decided to log all my actions from dawn to dusk in a note book. Well this turned into a total disaster as I suddenly found that I was logging-in more hours than were physically available in the day due to my system of rounding-off the time taken to complete a task! As well, the logging ate up an inordinate period as the log was always somewhere else when I wanted to make an entry, or else the pen had mysteriously disappeared. Also in retrospect (usually about 2:00 a.m.), I would suddenly remember several chores which I hadn't logged thus making the whole process even more ludicrous!

Nevertheless, it did reveal just how many disparate things I did on a daily basis. It was a classic case of a whole bunch of little things, none of which individually rated high on the importance list, but taken collectively, overwhelming the time available. This includes "En Passant." If you are a homemaker, you'll understand this situation all too well. As you wander about your abode accomplishing specific tasks, there are always several other things you spot that need fixing, adjustment, whatever. So, you get involved with these often to the detriment of what you originally set out to do! Or, as in my situation, you simply forget what you were supposed to do in the first place.

Of course it must be someone's law that whenever you need a tool, it is always located the farthest distance possible from your present location. Second floor to basement or vice-versa is the norm for me. Some may consider this good exercise for us old timers, but basically it's just very frustrating. If I wanted exercise, I'd go for a walk, golf or ride my stationary bike! Now that I think about it, exercise also eats up time.

A retired friend of mine brought up another consideration. Before retirement, we would do much of our shopping during our daily trips back and forth from the office [sic] or during lunch hour. Now, a special trip is required. Additionally, its amazing how many other little trips become necessary during the week - banking, medical & dental appointments, library, shopping centre, etc.

I haven't mentioned telephone calls, but I can rely on at least three to four telemarketing calls per day. These usually involve a rapid dash to grab the phone and the instantaneous, disappointing realization that it's only someone trying to sell me lawn care or carpet cleaning, or soliciting donations. I tried just letting the answering machine take all the calls, but then was inundated with invective from relatives and friends, all complaining that they hadn't been able to reach us. Include as well, the daily door-to-door solicitations and even more time has been accounted for.

Other predictable threats to free time are my dear wife's dreaded "Coffee Notes." As my wife still works and therefore departs the house at some God-forsaken hour, I am ostensibly left to discover the day in my own, personal manner. This involves several cups of coffee to kick-start my thinking processes (such as they are), so the first stop I make is the coffee pot. But inevitably, right beside the pot, in clear view, impossible to avoid, demanding immediate recognition, is "The Note." Such succinct proclamations as, "Salads", "Laundry", "Groceries", "Vacuum", (thoughtfully prefaced by "Please"), all require my immediate and unquestioning spousal obedience. Drawing on years of marital experience, I can guarantee that adherence is the much preferred option! So there go some more valuable hours that could have been happily whiled away at my hobbies.

Retirement supposedly is the time to enjoy hobbies, at least that's what conventional wisdom apparently dictates. But why then do I get such a guilty feeling when I'm out golfing, or investigating the intricacies of my new computer? Probably because when I was working I had a reason for not getting all the nagging chores done - no time! Now I have no excuses, other than my natural penchant for inaction.

I have therefore vowed to correct this feeling of malaise, and henceforth refuse to accept any sense of guilt if something isn't completed, or for that matter even started in time. I served my penance during my working career so now that I'm retired, I should be able to use my time as I wish. So from now on, when asked,

"What do you do with all your time?"

I'll respond with a clear conscience,


"Whatever I want to!"

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