Juggling time – adult skill

Juggling time takes practice. It denotes a degree of maturity as well as a degree of skill. However, the skills can easily slip away if not maintained and practised after retirement. I’m wondering if they can be fully restored again.

Juggling time and keeping all balls in the air

Juggling time and keeping all balls in the air

Most of my adult life demanded complex skills for juggling time. As a nurse I learned to multi-task before the word was thought of. You can imagine how giving birth to seven babies in under eight years challenged me.

Later, as a single mother I worked outside the home to support six young children.. To challenge myself, I simultaneously added a couple of units a year to an undergraduate degree.

New challenges always intrigue me. My brother, Peter Stone, taught me that the way to live a creative life is to say ‘Yes,’ to whatever challenges present.

‘You can always work out how to do whatever it is you’ve agreed to later,’ he says.

It works for me. And obviously for him.

Saying ‘yes’ is a doorway to adventure, and it also requires extra juggling time as you try to fit the new activity into the rest of your life. I love the excitement of the new that is only possible if my time is organised. Keeping all my balls in the air challenges me.

When I retired at 65 I completed a PhD in Writing. Then I returned to work to research elder abuse and to educate older adults.

The year I turned seventy, I retired for the second time. That year, I also remarried.

What a shock! John had retired many years previously. He felt no need to organise or plan his time. Instead, he felt free to follow his whims about what he would do each day. Weekends away, holidays and outings happened  without consulting diaries or calendars.

It wasn’t easy to get into that mindset. I was too fond of structure, too committed to planning, goal-setting and time-management to adapt. I didn’t understand old age brought with it the privileges of no longer juggling time. The lack of routine chaffed.

I felt as if my life had no boundaries.Too much freedom made me anxious. It became more difficult to actually do anything when I could take all day to do it. Writing, the former love of my life, became difficult.

Gradually, I adapted, although still longing for my old ways. I maintained some routines, like cleaning day and regular writing times and blogging. John laughed at my insistence on these routines, but they comforted me.

As a Project Leader with the Spirit of the Streets Choir I find my so-called job a delight. I am paid to sing and write and talk to people. I work limited hours, but even so I am again juggling time. Life has taken on new meaning. I feel blessed.

Plans and goals cover my notice-board. My diary fills itself. Work and hope are separate even though I do much of my work here. Like so many members of the choir say, I look forward to the choir’s Tuesday rehearsals. I gain confidence in my ability to manage my time effectively.

I will plan life after my third retirement next year so that I maintain this skill.

I’d love to read your comments about anything in this blog.

6 thoughts on “Juggling time – adult skill

  1. You’ve achieved so much, Maureen, and I tip my cap to you! I like routine, too—it keeps me productive, and I hate wasting time. I don’t like too much pressure, though. A few years’ ago, I stopped saying Yes to things I felt I should do but didn’t want to—I end up resenting them. The upside was that it freed up time to say Yes to more of the things I actually wanted to do! Win-win!

    • Thanks for your comment, Louise. I’m fairly good at saying ‘no’, but when I retired and married I fell into a bit of a trap about not saying ‘yes’ to anything much, either. As a response I became quite slothful (for me) because I had no routine, no pressure, nothing that excited me enough to keep me engaged. The word ennui comes to mind – it was not the boredom that leads to creativity and productivity. Much more the edge of depression. I don’t want to go there again! So I’ll be saying ‘yes’ from now on to the things I can and want to do.

  2. you are amazing, Maureen; for someone who loves order and routine, you are very adaptable.
    I agree with Louise, the art of saying no to things I don’t want to do has freed me to live life more creatively, in a more centred way. Perhaps I used to say yes too much.

    • I guess it depends on what you are saying ‘yes’ to, Christina. My brother and I don’t mean saying it to ordinary demands or requests, but more to the bigger challenges that stretch us and force us to think and act creatively. Like working for the SOS Choir, or doing a PhD. I know you understand the challenges I mean – you, also, were past retirement age when you did your PhD, moved across Australia, began an editing business… The list of things you’ve said yes to, and accomplished, is amazing. I sometimes think I spark off your creativity and energy. Thank you.

  3. Great insight Maureen. I’m a yes person and like to take on things that excite and challenge me. I love that the choir offers so many opportunities for great projects – like the book. The choir has been my saviour from empty nest syndrome and depression, when suddenly my life lacked structure and routine that comes with raising a family. My challenge now is to choose wisely the things I say yes to, so I can keep a balance. I’m a great time juggler, but learning to plan and treat myself to the odd PJ day and some unstructured time too.

    • Thanks for the comment, Irene. I guess I’m another person who has fallen in love with the Spirit of the Streets Choir. I can’t believe my good fortune, blessings, etc. I’m not all that sure that I will ever say ‘Yes’ wisely. There are clearly things that I say ‘no’ to because I don’t want to do them, or can’t or they do not excite me. But every now and then something comes along that at first I’m not sure I can do. If I can’t do it, I’ve learned to fake it until I make it, find people who can support and encourage me, and just get on with it. They are the wonderful experiences. The ones I treasure.

      Like you, I need to plan enough downtime and treats, or the whole thing falls flat on its face. Now I have a subject for another blog. Thanks again!

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