Rebooting Time Management skills and Learning to Conquer Fear

Last month I attended a workshop that focused on the practical aspects of writing and time management. The struggle with managing my time since I have retired and left the full time work world continues to catch me by surprise. Distractions abound in my day to day life and by day’s end I find that although I have been busy, I have accomplished little.

How strange is that? Activities that I firmly believe I am committed to seem to vaporize during the course of the day. Sure, there are many things that I actually do and have finished but what I wanted to do most in my heart of hearts before I retired was to reignite my passion for creative writing.

Developing a consistent writing practice seems to allude me and is often hit or miss.

When I worked full time, I was able to juggle a prodigious number of tasks easily throughout most days. Often using project management techniques I was able to ensure my goals were met and expected deliverables were completed.

But, writing on a daily basis, has proven more difficult than I expected.

So the course on time management skills for writers, revealed a world of time management strategies that I was not even aware of. The course instructor used an astonishing number of acronyms and provided a fascinating list of time management gurus, videos, software programs and apps.

I then devoted time to watching suggested videos, previewing software packages, and ordering time management books from our local library system but had a strong sense that I was missing the boat here. Digging deeper I began to reflect on the fact that I was in the throes of procrastination.

Why was I procrastinating?

Sure, I have written some pieces of poetry and short fiction, and I started this blog. I have joined a writer’s group for support and accountability but it was starting to dawn on me that I must be missing the bigger picture.

This is about Fear. Yes, the simplest explanation for all of this is fear. Fear of putting myself out there, being judged, not being a good enough writer – my list of fears was long. Fear accompanies anyone beginning a new career, lifestyle, or journey. It seems important to learn to coexist with my fear, become okay with my status as a beginner who is learning to write and to begin to identify as a writer.

Have you ever been held back by fear? If so, what did you do to overcome it. I would love to hear your comments about fear and if it accompanies you on your journey.

How the concept of “Mattering” Matters

Approximately thirty years ago, Dr. Nancy Schlossberg, counselling psychologist at the University of Maryland, wrote a seminal paper outlining the impact of the concepts of “mattering” and “marginalization” on the lives of people during life transitions. Specifically her research looked at the impact of significant life change on students transitioning from high school to college or university and retirees who had left full time work. Dr. Schlossberg developed a theory of transition that suggested the importance of mattering to ourselves and others and illuminated the possible challenges that many of us may face during any life changing experience through marginalization.

Drawing on a concept that was originally developed by sociologist, Dr. Morris Rosenberg, “Mattering” could be described as being dependent on several aspects being in place:

1. Attention – Whether or not we feel that we matter to and are noticed by others;

2. Importance – A belief that one is cared about and that what we are doing is considered to be of some importance to others or ourselves;

3. Dependence – Feeling that we matter if we are needed by others;

4. Ego-Extension – The feeling that if we succeed or if we fail that others will notice and will support us;

5. Appreciation – That we are in fact, appreciated for what we do, whatever that may be.

The concept of “marginalization” results when some of these factors are not met and we may become marginalized when we transition from one stage of our lives to another. Schlossberg’s theory of transition and her research suggested that retirement could be a time when we feel like we continue to matter to others or ourselves or it could be a time when we begin to feel like we are resting on the margins of our lives. Any time we make or experience a significant change in our lives, we often feel somewhat off balance and need to devote time and energy to become grounded again.

Strategies that I have found helpful as I move through this time of transition have been to take advantage of having more time for friends, family, and making new acquaintances. I have been pleasantly surprised by a whole world of people who no longer work full time but take lifelong learning courses, exercise classes, and are available during the daytime. Continuing to work part time allows me to use skills that I have in new ways and with new people and allows me to continue to feel like what I do is important, meaningful, and matters.

Finally, learning what it means to experience being a beginner all over again as I learn new skills and pursue new interests. Being able to appreciate what others have done or are doing has enriched my experience as well. Perhaps most importantly, I have learned to be kind and patient with myself as I work to avoid feeling marginalized while I am building this new stage of my life. How about you? What strategies might you have used when experiencing life changes to continue to feel as if you “matter”??

Retirement Reinvention – Moving beyond golf and pickle ball

We each carry around a picture or visual schema of what people are supposed to do once they retire. Often this is based on the kinds of retirement activities we observed our family members engaging in and the social constructs that have existed for decades about this chapter in the life course. Stereotypical activities such as golfing, playing pickle ball or bridge populate our thinking about this stage of life.

The process of aging, which permeates these societal expectations and also may create stigma, complicates this.

So, what types of activities do you pursue when you retire and begin the process of reinvention?

The answer to that question seems to be elusive for some and easily addressed for others. It is critical to recognize that for some people, there may be as many as 30 plus years ahead of them. That is often the same length of time that many people have worked in full time jobs. Perhaps this is what makes some people nervous when they contemplate leaving work. That horizon ahead, may represent decades in our lives. This can be intimidating or exhilarating or both.

Individuals who have well developed plans for reinvention when they leave work often seem to move full throttle ahead. To some, this might seem like the last opportunity to recreate your life, leaving the past behind and pursuing new possibilities. This can be daunting and no one has a crystal ball that tells them how long they have.

Setting clear intentions may help guide your direction, whatever that is, whether it actually is golf, pickle ball or something else. Developing a focus with an actual plan helps. Trying out new pursuits and creating a passion based on a life long love of learning has helped me navigate the first couple years of my retirement. Narrowing down my list of activities and what I truly wished to pursue, has helped propel me in ways that have moved my quest for reinvention forward.

Discovering when something doesn’t resonate or fit my new lifestyle and feeling free to release it by discarding what no longer make sense. All of this has occurred in a trial and error kind of way. When you make significant changes in your life, what approaches have proven to be most helpful for you? This has been a pivotal aspect of reinvention and I will continue to revisit this in the future on this blog. Your comments and input would be appreciated.

Choosing a social media platform for blogging?

One of my newfound favourite activities since I retired from full time work, is to listen to afternoon radio while cooking a meal or baking something. Recently, I listened to a technology piece on a public broadcasting station about the carbon impact of commonly used social media platforms. My ears perked up when this part of the segment was aired as I have been following blogs and tutorials on the importance of using social media platforms to encourage blog readership.

I am somewhat of a luddite when it comes to social media and to date, I seem to have avoided learning how to use any of these platforms. In today’s world, apparently it very common for people to use numerous different platforms for many different purposes. When you don’t, people tend to find this odd and sometimes, I have actually been shamed for not using certain types of social media. So I have been cautious about choosing the best platform to promote my blog and writing activities.

This radio program segment was instructive for me in the sense that I learned I need to do research to learn more about these platforms and not simply from the perspective about how to promote a blog. There seems to be a need to carefully examine the use of personal technology from a climate change perspective. Although the journalist spoke about the multitude of uses of technology and social media to further our knowledge and provide necessary education about climate change, I found it interesting to consider that we need to understand how data is stored and what forms of energy are required for that.

I must admit that when I think of cloud technology, I carry a visual representation of white fluffy clouds. Data storage, I learned, does in fact have a carbon footprint. The journalist I was listening to suggested that as consumers of social media technology we should carefully examine what the ramifications might be of various platforms in relationship to climate change. It seemed to me that given all of this, it might be important to only choose to use one. Having no experience with any of them, what is the most beneficial social media platform to promote a blog? I would appreciate any thoughts you might be willing to share about this as I continue my research about social media options.

Time Becomes Elastic

How did it get so

late so soon?

Dr. Suess

One of the most intriguing discoveries that I have made about the transition to retirement has been my experience with time. On one hand, time seems to extend over entire days like an elastic band being stretched farther and farther, and then on the other hand, it snaps and goes by far too quickly. The topic of time is by far one of the most curious aspects of retirement that others ask about. “What do you do with all of your time?” is now a question that I have come to expect when someone inquires about my transition from full time work.

When I was preparing for retirement, boredom was a state that I was certain I could avoid. After all, during the busy and exhausting many years that I worked full time, I often daydreamed about time. Having more of it to do what I needed to do and more importantly, what I thought I truly wanted to do. It didn’t occur to me that time might slow considerably and that it was in fact, possible for the state of boredom to emerge in my life.

I had left work at the end of May and found that most of that first summer was like being on an extended vacation. Once the calendar rolled over to September, I began to flounder somewhat and found that in an effort to stave off boredom, I scheduled far too many activities into my life. My sleeping, eating, and exercise routines remained much the same as they had been during my full time work life. These routines were designed to manage the overcommitted aspects of that world.

Much of that first year was spent busily exploring this new reality, visiting with family and friends that previously there was never enough time to connect with. Leaning on friendships of others who were retired and had more experience with this stage of life than I did. Taking classes, committing to volunteer projects for worthy organizations, developing small contracts using my professional skills, enjoying day time yoga classes, starting a book club, and many other activities. All of this “busyness” certainly fulfilled my psychological need to manage the change impact of this transition.

As I moved into the second year of retirement from full time work, I became more discerning about what I was willing to commit to and began the process of unravelling previous routines and developing a new understanding of what I wanted to be doing with my life. I seemed to be learning to spend more time in state of relaxed reflection in order to consider what I needed either more or less of in my life. This continues to be a work in progress and as I alter my relationship with time as well as boredom, I am starting to appreciate that time is truly the ultimate gift that we have. What is your relationship with time?