When I was in my forties, I routinely worked 55-hour weeks (commuting an hour each way), taxied my kids to soccer practices and dance recitals, mowed the yard, paid the bills, and worked out five nights a week (some things are sacred). I knew exactly where my day had to go, and I made sure it went there. Missions accomplished.
But now, at 65, I feel my days slipping away. Not from some morbid fixation on death, or from my compromised knees. Rather, each day flies by and I’ve done squat. I don’t get it. I’m semi-retired, working maybe 15 hours a week. The commute to my downstairs home office averages 60 seconds – longer if there’s a pileup of cats on the stairwell. Our kids are grown and drive themselves to practices and parties. So, what’s my problem?
To help keep myself on track, I developed the following daily regimen.
6:30am: Rise, shine, shower, shave, brush teeth, dress.
7:00am: Chug protein kale shake (while holding nose).
7:30am: Power through email, deleting all junk emails requesting political campaign donations (average 298 per day). Pay bills, perhaps.
8:00am: Work. Stay focused to finish by noon. Max 15 minute break.
Noon: Join wife for quinoa and chicken. Try to eat it.
12:30pm: Intense workout on elliptical and weights to enhance 2-pack.
1:30pm: Get some fresh air on brisk two-mile walk. Try not to get lost this time.
2:30: Read a book to broaden mind, such as on Paleolithic artforms. TV verboten.
5:00: Cook healthy dinner of legumes, tilapia, salad. Try to feel full without dessert.
6:00pm: Feed cats, scoop litterbox. Tidy up house. Resist urge to shove laundry under bed.
7:00pm: Chill with cats, Buddy and Zippy. Watch intellectually stimulating film with Michele.
9:00pm: Check Facebook feed (only once daily!)
10:00pm: Brush teeth, floss, bedtime. Reflect on accomplishments of the day.
Care to guess how many times I’ve adhered to this schedule (in reality, not just in my dreams)? Yup! Right down there with the number of successful Titanic oceanic crossings. I don’t know why, but every single solitary day I deviate widely from this plan – through no fault of my own, I’m sure. To get to the bottom of this conundrum, I decided to log each minute of my day. Surely such a study would reveal who or what keeps derailing me.
6:30am: Hit snooze button. 6:30 is an ungodly time to get up. I can barely open one eye, let alone rise and shine. Roll over. Sleep another hour.
7:30am: Shuffle downstairs in PJs. Trip over cats. Forget to shave, shower, or brush teeth. Log onto computer to check email and Facebook feed. Congratulate Norman on his 75th birthday. (Personally, I thought he would have kicked the bucket years ago.)
8:30am: Scarf bowl of Apple Jacks. Must be healthy cuz’ it has the word “apple” right in the name. Turn on CNN for latest news. Something about President Trump’s plans to prosecute every Democratic governor and mayor for treason. IOW, another normal news day.
9:30am: Start workday (90 minutes behind schedule). Plan to make up time by punting laundry for yet another day.
9:35am: Come across YouTube video about a cat that has learned how to snowboard. Hilarious. Post it to Facebook and Instagram.
9:40am: Resume working.
9:50am: Receive SOS from neighbor to borrow pressure washer. Meet them at my garage. Engage in lively discussion about Trump’s plans to build another border wall – around the White House.
10:20am: Return to work.
10:55am: Consider shaving. Get distracted by unusual bird outside window. Ponder its species. Check bird book. Looks like a black-bellied plover or maybe a Pacific golden plover. While away 20 minutes researching the answer. Yeah, I knew it. Definitely a black-bellied plover.
11:25am: Back to work. Focus, Tim. Focus!
11:40am: Turn on Amazon Echo. “Alexa, play music by Elton John.” Internal debate over whether the Rolling Stones would be better background music for working.
11:55am: Observe how cute Zippy looks lying in that tiny box. Decide he needs pats because he’s been such a good boy. He hasn’t peed on the carpet by my desk all morning.
Noon: Lunch. Michele’s already eaten. I’m too tired to grill chicken. Looks like it’s another PB&J lunch day. There’s protein in Skippy peanut butter, right?
12:30am: Return to my desk. Stare at computer.
12:35pm: Receive Snapchat from daughter Rachel describing her next trip abroad. Daydream about Costa Rica.
1:05: Wonder if they have Cable in Costa Rica – which reminds me – did I pay the cable bill? Check bank account. Paid! Phew. Notice $50 charge for Wonder Waffles. What the heck?!
1:15pm: Take quick peek at Facebook. There’s a breaking WA Post story: Trump plans to purchase the Falklands and rename them the Trumplands. Think silently to self, “Perhaps he’ll move there when he loses.”
1:30pm: Take a brisk walk to mailbox. Exhausted, decide it’s time for a nap.
2:30pm: Contemplate working out – which would require getting dressed and tying sneakers. Too much of a hassle. Maybe tomorrow.
2:35pm: Think about work. Guilt paralyzes me.
3:00pm. Call it a day. Collapse onto couch and pat Buddy. He’s feeling ignored. Nod off again.
4:00pm: Snack time. Fleeting thoughts of fresh fruit. Opt for Cookie Dough ice cream instead. Begin diet tomorrow.
4:10pm: Gaze at book on coffee table about Paleolithic artforms. Reach for remote instead. Catch the latest breaking news story from CNN: Trump has decided to replace Mike Pence as his VP with the My Pillow Guy. Think to self, “I did NOT see that coming.”
6:10pm: Catch glimpse of clock and realize I’ve been glued to CNN for two hours. A recipe for stress. Time for a dinner of comfort food. Surprise Michele with a pepperoni & sausage pizza delivery. With a large Mountain Dew.
7:00pm: Get cozy on couch with Michele, Buddy and Zippy. “Watch” action thriller flick while texting buddy Steve about Seahawks game. Apologize to wife for not being fully present with her.
9:00pm: Time for bed. Wait! Did I feed the cats? Probably not. Guess that’ll have to wait till tomorrow.
Where did my day go?
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.
Just the other day I mentioned this to a couple of friends who have also retired (I’m turning 70 in November): How did we ever WORK with all the other stuffs to do? At one point in my 40’s I was a single mother and worked 3 jobs and STILL managed to get just about everything done. Now I feel “accomplished” if I get 2 things on my lust completed.
Where DOES the time go??
Great piece!! ♥️
My life! And I don’t even have cats!!
You may THINK the day you’ve logged each minute of YOUR day. How the heck did you get ahold of each minute of MY day?
You do have a problem, we are 10 times more productive that you…and that says a lot…we’re cats for love sake!
-Buddy and Zippy
Oh my gosh, that all sounds TOO familiar. I confess that my Whole Wheat Bran cereal trumps your Apple Jacks though. WAIT, did I say “Trump”? You’ll have to excuse my untimely use of this verb.
Thanks a lot Tim. I just blew my morning watching that cat video. We’ve got snow. It inspired me to get a snowboard and see how Sebastian does.