Category Archives: Time management

How to Get Yourself to Exercise – Pay Yourself First

It used to be that doctors recommended rest for all kinds of conditions.  Child birth.  Stay in bed for a week.  Major surgery.  Don’t even think of getting up and moving.  Feeling stressed?  The Victorians went to the beach and put their feet up for weeks at a time.  But no longer.  Now, medical research has found that there is hardly anything that is wrong with you that exercise won’t help.


a great way to get out on a cold day

Skiing in the park

It is very easy for me to put off exercise.  The carpet has cat hair that needs vacuuming.  Moldy leftovers have invaded the fridge.  Or, I admit it, I just want to finish the level  5 Sudoku.


My husband doesn’t have this problem.  He goes to the gym and uses the weight machines.  He has a standing date to play racquetball with friends.  He rides his bicycle for errands, to his substitute teaching jobs, or just a few miles for the heck of it.

Why can he get regular exercise and I can’t?  My natural tendency is to get a bit irritated at him for putting himself first instead of helping with the chores.  But a couple of months ago I decided to try to learn from him instead.  After all, he does help out – just after he’s exercised.

As I thought about it, I realized, that is the difference.  Just as in saving money, it helps to pay yourself first.  Bill places a top priority on exercising and because he exercises regularly he has more energy to tackle the chores after he is finished.

So last November, I decided to change the priority.  I would make my to do list and move exercise to the number one spot.  I had some motivating factors.  We’re going on a cross-country ski vacation in February and I want to be in shape.  My bone density test showed some osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis.  My doctor encouraged me to work with weights.  I want to continue to be active as I age.  Exercise seems to be the factor that I can control.

How’s it going?  Better.  I was doing a great job of using my free weights and going for brisk 3 mile walks until the Christmas season hit.  Then preparing for company seemed to push exercise down the priority list.  I picked it back up in January and the unusual (for us) snow fall meant that I had chances to get out and cross-country ski.  I haven’t completely changed but I’m doing better.  Most weeks I lift weights twice and go for at least 3 brisk walks or similar outings.

How about you?  Where does exercise come in your priority list?  Do you have some tricks to get yourself to exercise?



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Why are you retiring? What will you do?

Five years ago I saw only the same old House Sparrows at my bird feeders.  Then last fall I noticed some White Throated Sparrows pecking the ground under the feeders. This spring there’s a sweet little sparrow with a rust colored cap.  My bird guide tells me it’s a Chipping Sparrow. These birds have most likely visited my yard in the past but I didn’t see them.  I was too busy. 

A lot of people ask, “How much money will I need to retire?”  and “when can I retire?”  You can find piles of books, web sites, and financial calculators on these questions.   But few people tackle the question, “Why should I retire?”  Yes, most everyone wants more control of their lives, but to what purpose?  There are those who have some grand goal or cause and save to free themselves for this reason.  Benjamin Franklin is one of those early retirees who went on to greater things, like being a founder of our country.  Great second act, Ben. 

Purple Coneflower

When I decided to switch from full time to half time work I didn’t  ask why.  I was just plain tired.  I had been a single working Mom, then juggled the complexities of remarriage while working and still raising a child.  I got a promotion at work, giving me more responsibility but not much say over how things were done.  I never felt that I had time to really enjoy a book or pursue my interests in the out of doors or to try some new hobbies like knitting or gardening.  I wanted to become a better writer.  With only the smallest of exceptions I’ve worked full time or gone to school while working part time since I was 14.  My house felt disorganized.  My life felt disorganized. 

So four years ago, after talking it over with my husband, I asked my boss if there was a way that I could switch to part time work. I didn’t really see it as retiring though many of my acquaintances did.  Anyway, my boss said, “yes”.

my homespun

 And four years later, I find myself wondering, what have I done with that extra time?  My house is perhaps marginally more organized but not much cleaner.  I’m definitely less tired and less stressed.  I don’t read  more but I absorb more of what I do read.  I took some online and continuing ed writing classes.  I learned to knit and then to spin.  I volunteer with a local nature center and other conservation organizations.  I took a master naturalist course and met some new friends.  I’ve been working on the yard and planting a small vegetable garden.  I’m not exercising more.

Some of that extra time is spent doing things that I would pay to have done if I were working:  cleaning house, cooking at home more than going out, painting or scraping wallpaper or acting as a contractor for some work that needs to be done.  I spend more time being a careful shopper and watching how my money is spent, all necessary with my reduced wages.

All of these activities leave me feeling somewhat dissipated.  I haven’t written anything that I want to submit for publication.  I knit some gifts and make a few vests, socks, mittens and hats.  I’m basically an advanced beginner or intermediate at most of these things.  No great mastery of any of it.  At work I feel that I’m just moving ahead on a project but then get pulled away because I’m not there full time. 

I hope I don’t sound as if I’m complaining.  I have a very lovely life.  If I really want to do something I can find the time, something I didn’t feel so much when I was working full time.  I can more easily join my husband on all of those trips he wants to take in the summers.  I can play back-up for him while he deals with his folk’s declining health.  I feel blessed.  But I do sometimes ask myself if I couldn’t use that time better, if I don’t fritter a fair amount of it away.  Maybe that is ok.  I have a more relaxed pace, a less hurried and tired life.  I see more, enjoy more. There is more than one kind of sparrow in my backyard.

So the questions are, Should I be more focused?  Is there something that I want to do that I’m not making the time for?  Do I want to get really good at something or do lots of things but be just ok at them?  Can I manage my time better so that I get more of what I want done?  There’s a part of me that thinks things are ok the way they are,  that I don’t have to be an expert at things,  that pursuing these hobbies at this pace is just fine.  And there is a part of me that wants to enjoy accomplishing more, being better at things, learning more. 

How about you?  Why do you want to retire?  How have you handled extra time when cutting work hours or retiring?  Are you getting what you hoped to from the change?

Some other people I’ve found who are talking about this topic:

–           Syd at Retirement:  a fulltime job

–          Early Retirement by Phillup Greenspun

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Filed under activities, Natural History, retirement, Time management

Too much fun

There were no posts to this blog for two months.  So what have I been doing? 


  • I went to Germany with my son and visited my niece who is going to school in Berlin. 
  •  I attended my Aunt’s 95th birthday party. 
  •  I’ve been serving as the Secretary of the Board of a volunteer organization that I belong to.
  • I’ve gone bird watching, seed collecting, invasive plant chopping, and volunteering at the nature center. 
  • I’ve attended a wine tasting and seen four theater productions, including an awesome “Into the Woods”.  
  • I’ve been knitting and spinning.   
  • When I haven’t been travelling, I’ve been putting in a few extra hours at work to bring some projects to completion. 
  • I’ve been trying to get my house in some kind of order.  All in the last two months!

I love all of these activities but sometimes I feel that I’m pulled in just as many directions as I did when I was working full time and raising a child. 

I’ve been thinking about this tendency of activities to fill – and overfill – the time available and I’m working on cutting back and focusing on those I most enjoy. 

Step 1 – I’ve served 2 years as secretary of the board for one of my volunteer organizations.  And I’ve decided that I’d rather participate in the activities and let others step up to do the administrative tasks.  I’ll pick only one or two of the activities available in this conservation group – prairie seed collecting and working with children at my local nature center and let others fill this need. 

Step 2 – I’m listing all of the things that I want to do next year and making a conscious plan so that I don’t find myself missing out on those I most enjoy because I’ve committed to those that I enjoy less. 

Step 3 – I’m quitting my book club.  My book club reads international authors and has given me a fictional tour of the world. We usually try to read books from several continents each year.  We’ve read Coetze, Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey, Chinua Achebe, among others.  I would never have been exposed to these writers without this group.   I joined the club about 8 years and I’m quite fond of the members.  But there are only so many books that I can read in a year and I’d like to choose some that don’t fit into the club’s criteria.  So I’m going to regretfully let go of this one. 

Step 4 – I’m decluttering my home so that I can find the things that I need and don’t spend so much time rearranging stuff that I rarely use.   I remember leaving for the Peace Corps in my 20’s with just two large bags with possessions to last two years.  It felt so freeing.  I won’t be able to approach anything like that level of possession reduction, but I’m going to do my best. 

Step 5 – I’m going to post more frequently on my blog, to keep me focused on the reasons that I left the full time work world a few years ago. 

Do you find yourself trying to do too much and ending up not doing anything as well as you’d like?  Or are you focused on just a few activities?  How do you manage activity creep?


Filed under activities, Time management