In the traditional work environment there is a certain routine or schedule. Each day there are tasks that need to be completed and deadlines that must be met. In the post-working environment (retirement), deadlines and tasks are more self-imposed. There are self-defined tasks related to the family, the community and to yourself. The timing of these tasks, their priority are up to the individual. The task-mix is determined arbitrarily. Therefore, at any point in time or on a particular day, you choose which mix seems feasible and which suits your mood.
In retirement, the priorities can be affected by your sense of self, your sense of family commitments or your engagement in the community. Ideally, you attempt to create a balance: your well-being in relation to the well-being of others around you.
What happens when the number of tasks becomes overwhelming, or to put it differently, if everything in life becomes a task?
In retirement life there is the potential for inundation through tasks or to reach a standstill, unable to prioritize the numerous tasks. In the working world there was a limit; you could expect or be expected to complete a finite number of tasks in a day or a fixed period. In the retirement world, the limit is your mental and physical energy.
How do you get away from the ‘task-oriented’ thinking of the working life to a more ‘open-ended’ reactive, observational thinking in retirement — more meditational?
The solution is not to see life as a series of tasks but to see life as a flow of energy. We observe the living environment. We interact with it in a spontaneous way. We experiment with different ideas and relationships. We do activities but we don’t segment life into a finite number of tasks which must be completed in a specific order or time frame. We do not know the time available. We may not even understand the sequence of events or actions. Of course, as in all life, there are always constraints: money, time, physical and mental health, or the surrounding culture.
Edward Wedler has contributed his graphic skills and note below.
NOTE from Edward Wedler:
Based on your post, Bob, I explored YouTube and came across this Tony Schwartz TEDx talk on managing our energy, not time, by “embracing opposites“.