For someone who has always kept a close eye on the clock and the calendar to ensure the timely completion of tasks, rarely did I ever lose track of the day of the week… except maybe around national holidays which often messed up the natural order of things.
But in retirement, it’s a different story. With fewer deadlines to anchor my sense of time, there have been weeks when I couldn’t tell my Tuesday from my Wednesday.
It didn’t take long for me to see the sharp contrast between my work life and my retirement life to understand why this happens and how logically, it makes perfect sense… at least in my mind.
The routine before the pandemic
Before the pandemic, it would have been unthinkable to go a full work day without checking my calendar at least a few times. Just the process of keeping an eye out for that day’s deliverables and the ones in the coming days provided multiple reminders to reinforce what day of the week it was.
On top of that, each day of the week had its fixed milestones, such as weekly meetings, the delivery of weekly status updates on key files, or the completion of time sheets at the end of the week. Each of these tasks served as additional points of reference in the constant juggling act of time management.
When you add the number of times in a day I would need to review my calendar again to determine the feasibility of adding new meetings or deliverables, the days of the week had no opportunity to escape my train of thought.
My home life also relied on the regular checking of the calendar to ensure I didn’t miss “garbage day” or to know when to take a series of detours to avoid getting caught in the combination of rush hour traffic and Ottawa Senators home games.
On the weekends, my activities revolved more around social activities, home maintenance, marathon batch cooking sessions, and the publication of the blog post of the week. Given that these activities happened mostly on weekends, they also served to provide further differentiation in the days of the week.
How the pandemic changed the routine
When the pandemic started, the lines started to blur a little. Even though I was working remotely, I was still paying attention to the calendar for meetings and deliverables. However, the removal of the commute from the equation was the beginning of the shift.
With the time I reclaimed from the commuting, I had more time to linger over my coffee and a good book in the morning, an activity previously reserved for weekends.
Also, rather than getting jostled on a bus or stressed in traffic, the more gentle start to the day felt more like a Saturday or a Sunday than a weekday.
In the afternoon, when my work day was done and I wasn’t expending head space stewing about traffic and weather, I sometimes had more time and energy left for food preparation. When that happened, I could dial down the intensity of my batch cooking sessions on the weekends.
Under lockdown rules, social time as we knew it pretty much disappeared, errands were as infrequent as possible and I didn’t have to keep checking the arena’s event calendar to know when to detour my way home.
With all of these factors, I felt days blurring together as my Monday through Friday was less of a contrast from my Saturday and Sunday.
The further changes in retirement
In retirement (while still under pandemic restrictions), very few of my activities depend on a specific day of the week.
I might do errands two days per week, but which two don’t really matter.
My writing happens on 4 or 5 days per week, but there is flexibility there as well.
Also, activities have been known to shift due to weather and road conditions further distancing me from the confines of the calendar.
This new-found flexibility in planning, scheduling and doing is surprisingly refreshing to me, and seems to apply to most of my activities now. I say most, because the rest of the world still works on an appointment basis, whether the doctor, the dentist or the car mechanic. As a matter of fact, I have to remind myself now to look at the calendar to ensure I don’t miss one of those rare scheduled appointments.
As long as my personal week-to-week tasks get done, the day they happen is pretty much irrelevant.
That being the case, with fewer dependencies on time, and fewer auditory, visual or cognitive cues, I am much less aware of the calendar.
If it wasn’t for the network television shows that regularly appear on a specific day of the week, I could possibly lose track completely.
My retirement does have structure to it, in matching activities with the ups and downs in energy and creativity over the course of a given day. But surprisingly, the seven days of the week now look remarkably similar to each other in their ebb and flow.
For someone who used to be insanely punctual and chronically aware of time and day, this more fluid perception of the days of the week is a pretty new sensation, and one I am growing to enjoy. At the same time, I’ve learned not to worry about losing track of a day here or there.
All I know is that time flies when you are having fun, whatever day of the week it is.
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Have a great day,