I do admit it. Every once in a while when someone asks what I do in retirement I struggle to answer. I think back to my week and realize that yes I exercised three times, volunteered for an afternoon at the school library, walked the dog daily, did some errands, helped my kid with a school project, finished writing 1250 words on my book, got some fall maintenance done around the house, read a book, worked on some crafts, bottle a batch of beer and baked some muffins. But those things don’t sound all that interesting or particularly important compared to most people’s answers or stories from work about their 60 hour work week and having three major projects due next week.
Then I realized the other day perhaps my standards are all wrong. Perhaps I should consider what I didn’t do in a week. I didn’t spend over 20 hours in meetings where very little work actually got done. I didn’t have to write up project status reports for anyone which most people won’t read. I didn’t have to answer questions from co-workers or other interruptions at least ten times each day. I didn’t have to book a meeting room to actually give myself some time to get some work done. I’m not busy and I really should be proud of that fact. The issue is we have confused busy work with real work. Busy work isn’t real work, it takes you away from doing quality, well thought out and useful work.
Oddly enough, despite my relaxed weeks I honestly think I’m getting nearly as much done as I used to at work but in a faction of the time. Do you any idea how much writing you can get done when you can focus completely on it for a hour? I can usually get over 1000 words done on my book. And that just isn’t crappy writing but rather a nicely thought out and organized draft of 25% of a chapter. Could I be doing more? Potentially yes, but given I have tried to write more in the past in a short amount of time and I usually end up with a hot mess of text in desperate need of a good edit. In short, I just make more work for myself to do. So I spend perhaps two hours a week focused on writing and then I don’t worry about it after I hit my weekly target. It means it takes a bit longer to write a book but honestly I think I’m writing a better book because of it.
More time at work isn’t a good thing and I often thought during my career it was a failure when you did put in those extra hours. Now that I’m retired from that job I completely agree. Work could be so much better for people if the focus was on getting the ‘actual work’ done first and then ignoring much of the busy work that fills peoples’ days. Why can’t we have a more sane work pace? People aren’t machines and putting in more over time has been shown to actually get less done and often poorer quality work that often needs rework to fix it.
So yes, I wasn’t ‘busy’ this week and I won’t be busy next week either. But you know what? I like this pace of life. I can see doing this endlessly. Can you say the same thing about your current pace at work?