Retirement Bliss is Doing One Planned Activity a Day

Mr. Groovy and I are almost done with week two of retirement and I’m excited to share a theory with you we’ve been testing out. We’re hoping it can sustain us into our golden years. And since you’re already reading this post you know what it is—my idea of retirement bliss is doing one planned activity a day. Earth-shattering, I know.

Many years ago, I met a woman who was the living embodiment of relaxation. I asked her to share her secret with me and she said, “It’s very simple—do one thing a day.” She went on to explain that if you plan to shop—just shop. If you want to go to a movie—just go see the movie. She advised to let the rest of the day unfold. The value, she said, is in enjoying each moment and not being in such a rush that the days, months, and years go by too fast.

Now I know most of us have too many responsibilities to plan only one activity a day. But since Mr. Groovy and I suddenly have more time on our hands, we thought we might try to model this behavior—with a little twist. We’re continuing to carry out our daily and weekly activities, but we’re planning them around our one main venture for the day. If our routine tasks and chores fit in around that activity—great. We’ll add them to the mix.

On day 1 of our retirement, we focused on shipping Mr. Groovy’s work laptop back to his employer. We brought it over to UPS where the clerk packed it up nicely and safely to send off to Texas. When Mr. G handed the clerk his business AmEx card, the machine denied his charge. His employer wasted no time shutting down that baby! “Don’t let the door slam your backside on the way out,” as Fritz remarked in his post about our Day 1 of retirement.

Mr. G paid the $80+ fee with his Visa and later filled out a reimbursement form. To his company’s credit (and his former manager’s), they transferred the funds to our checking account by Friday.

On day 2 of retirement we saw the movie Sully. For a long time Mr. G said he yearned to see a movie during a midweek matinee. It was his FU to the 9 to 5 grind. And so we went to a 12:15 pm show. Of the seven people in the theater, we were the only two without white hair.

On Wednesday and Thursday (days 3 and 4), we visited Mr. Groovy’s parents. We felt great as we took a leisurely three-hour drive on a weekday for a sleepover! We stopped for our usual hot mocha at MacDonald’s, but this time we tried a caramel mocha—oooh, how decadent! At my groovy in-laws we imbibed on wine to toast our retirement. I can’t remember the last time I had alcohol in the middle of the day—let alone, a weekday. In addition, Wednesday was especially sweet because Mr. Groovy’s FI Gothic retirement day post landed on Rockstar Finance. J$ even tweeted it out with Mr. G’s original artwork—usually he substitute’s his own image.

On Friday, day 5, I had a mammogram. I recently found out my health insurance lasts until the end of the month. And this time, we didn’t need to rush home for conference calls. I get the 3D tomosynthesis mammo, which Aetna has covered completely so far. Under Obamacare, I’d pay a $55 upcharge for the tomo. So I knocked something off my to do list and saved money.

The Breast Center (yes, that’s what they call it) is located at a large hospital complex in the next town. My appointment was at 11 am. I was called in right away and finished in ten minutes. On the way out, the staff offered me a miniature cake—did I do something special? No, they offered cakes to all ladies as they checked out from the exam. Perhaps it was because October is Breast Awareness Month, I’m not sure—but these were no ordinary cakes baked by Martha in Pediatrics or Janet from the ER. These were seriously divine Bundt cakes. I chose a white chocolate raspberry Bundt cake because I heard a few staff members oohing and ahhing over it. We wanted to dive right into it in the car on the way home but waited until before (not after) dinner.

Mr. G is still talking about the white chocolate raspberry Bundt cake one week later. I’m sure we’ll be making a trip to the bakery that sells them before the holidays.

On the way home we mailed off a check for our property taxes and stopped at BestBuy to get a laptop case for me. Then we got a dunkacchino at Dunkin’ Donuts, using a gift card.

Saturdays and Sundays the past two weeks have been like any other weekend days. We cleaned the house, took our usual two mile walk, and just hung out. I should mention that Mr. Groovy had a terrible cold and cough that worsened on our last Friday of work. We never went out for a celebratory dinner that first Saturday. Instead, we got Chinese takeout food and I made sure he had some hot soup and tea.

This past Monday we visited my aunt in the nursing home and picked up food and litter for Groovy Cat on the way home. On Tuesday we went to the polls for early voting and on Wednesday I had a dental appointment. Last night we chatted with Ms. Montana as Thursday’s one planned activity. Correction—six bloggers assembled for a group chat with Ms. Montana and each other. Ms. Montana is super cool and dedicated to bringing great blogger minds together to network.

Today, Friday, is another low key day. Our planned activity is a trip to sweetFrog for frozen yogurt and a drive down our favorite country road where we like to count the goats and cattle we pass by.

As you can see, our weeks have been uneventful—and I’ve loved every minute. The weather here in Charlotte has been gorgeous. I wake up with no heaviness in my heart. Life is good.

Key Takeaway

Have you ever taken a vacation where you crammed so many sights into one trip that you couldn’t even remember where you’ve been? Or weeks you were so busy you didn’t remember what you did or what you accomplished? Have you returned home from work and put your keys in the refrigerator because you were preoccupied about a problem you had at the office?

Many of you who read Freedom Is Groovy are busy with life—paying down student loan debt, working a job and a side hustle, raising children, refinancing a mortgage, researching a car purchase—the list goes on and on. Many of you are also much younger than Mr. Groovy and me and aren’t thinking yet about age or health getting in the way of your dreams. However, Mr. G and I feel the clock ticking. We need to plan our most rigorous and adventurous trips and projects in the next five to ten years—while we’re able to handle them. It’s clichéd but true—time goes by in a flash. We’ve been married 14 years and it only feels like three or four years. I want the years to go by s-l-o-w-l-y, not quickly.

If given a choice between boredom and super busy, I pick boredom. I’d rather sit outside and feel the sun on my back and daydream than make sure every time slot on my calendar is filled. Just recently I’ve come to understand why slow travel has become so popular. Slow travel allows you to enjoy each experience instead of taking a selfie to post on Facebook before moving on to the next sight so you can say you’ve been there. Mr. G and I need to savor each moment and each experience. I’m only eight years away from Medicare and I’m not mentally ready for that. But if 14 years go by in a flash, how quickly will 8 years go by?

“But Mrs. Groovy, just like you said—I work full-time, have young children, and look after an older parent. It’s absolutely impossible for me to schedule one planned activity per day.” I hear your pain. And I’m sympathetic—before Mr. Groovy and I were free from work, it was next to impossible to schedule just one activity per day. But even with a hectic schedule you can:

Designate just one planned activity on a Saturday, Sunday, or another day off; or

Take a morning to yourself and do just one thing; or

Find an hour where you can fit in one activity—but REALLY make it one! That means no cell phones, no interruptions, and no distractions.

The concept is the same—savor the moments even if you must grab them where and when you can. We all have the same twenty-four hours in each day. What we make of them is a choice. We can squeeze in every activity under the sun or we can take a step back. For me, scheduling one planned activity a day is a way to slow down, notice my surroundings, and appreciate the life I’ve been given.

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41 Comments

  1. I like the one a day approach. Since I already live the semi retired life (according to my 9-5 BF 😉 ) it is quite normal for me to ease into my non working days. Read a bunch in the morning. Maybe leave to run an errand or two in the afternoon. Whatever doesn’t get done by 4pm is pushed to the next day. At 4 I am back resting and at 5 I pop up to clean the house and get dinner ready/started by the time he gets back. I am amazingly efficient under pressure and that way it looks like I have been busy all day long!

    I forgot who said it but it definitely applies “whatever you have to get done will take as much time as you give it.” If you have 5 hours to complete a 20 minute task, chances are it will take you 5 hours. If you have 20 minutes to complete a 30 minute task, you will get it done in the record time of 20 min. Time is funny that way…and so are we!

    Glad to hear you are enjoying the retired life one day (and task) at a time. 🙂

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Miss M. I may have to steal your “whatever doesn’t get done by 4pm is pushed to the next day” – brilliant

      Yes, one day/one task at a time is useful. It’s not easy though when you’re a big “to-do” list person. I’m trying to break myself of that habit.

  2. That’s a great way to prioritize. Over the years in the hospital, I’ve learned to do the most important thing first, and sometimes that’s eating dessert 🙂
    You never know when you’ll get called away for an emergency, so make sure that if anything remains undone or gets thrown out, it isn’t the most important or best thing.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I agree with you about dessert, Julie. Totally.

      The most important task sometimes isn’t the one we feel like doing – which is a good reason to do it first and get it out of the way. But sometimes I have to “warm up” to that. For me it’s about shifting my mindset and trying to focus on a real activity and not a task. I’m tired of making each day a never-ending list of things that need to get done. Lately I see the big advantage of downsizing because much of what we have to get done involves our house. But that’s also because we want to start getting it ready for sale.

  3. I’ve never heard of that ‘one thing per day’ approach, but it sounds really interesting. You’ll have a sense of accomplishment, you’ll have something to look forward to, it probably leads to other activities & tasks that need to be done…. it might be brilliant!

    And I love that you say that “Life is good” – that’s all that matters. Keep the posts coming! I’m on FIRE vicariously through you two groovy cats!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I first heard of the one thing a day approach around 20 years ago. I was on a hiking trip in the Grand Tetons staying in Driggs Idaho. Back then it was so quaint, I saw people walking their llamas on a leash at night. Boy if I knew something about real estate back then, that would have been a place to buy, buy, buy.

      Thanks, for the good wishes – yep, life is good.

  4. This is for sure an interesting concept to try. It would be a major change from my regular weekends where it is always rush to take the kids to activities, do shopping, meet a friend…

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I tell Mr Groovy all the time I don’t know how people with children manage. We worked from home, with no commute, and no kids – and every weekend became a bundle of chores. And that was in spite of getting some chores like shopping or going to the post office out of the way during weekday lunch hours. Free time just vanishes.

  5. I am craving a chance to slow down. It doesn’t have to be permanent. But I am drowning in grading and feedback and reaching out to families. Then, there are the other bazillion things that are also going on outside of work. This should calm down in the next few weeks, and I cannot wait.

    This recap it beautiful. I love how you’re savoring things more fully. And mmmmmm…cake.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Penny. I recognize in you something I see in myself. You have very high expectations of yourself in most everything you do. But from your posts it sounds like you’re learning to cut yourself some slack. I still find that difficult. I hope you get the chance to relax a little in the next few weeks.

  6. Sounds like your transition has been great so far. I like the one planned thing per day approach. I often feel like our weekends are jammed packed with “to dos” we didn’t get done during the week and they are over in a flash.

    It’s important to carve out some time for yourself, and family to just enjoy something and not rush off to the next thing.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Can someone invent an app called “Not to do”??? The to-do list is so tiring. To me it seems like you’ve found some balance in putting family first. And you’re developing that sense of community in your speaking engagements.

      I think if we can incorporate the to-dos and make them more of a side-kick than a main event, we’re on to something.

  7. I could feel myself slowing down as I was reading…which is a great thing. Even though my days are my own, it’s a bad habit to try to cram in too much, and multitask when it’s not necessary. On the other hand there are times when I’m too busy doing “nothing” to get even one thing done! One thing a day seems like it’s just right, and I’m going to try it moving forward. Hope Mr. Groovy’s feeling better, and don’t forget about that celebratory dinner!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I’m glad I had an effect on making you mellow! It definitely can swing in the other direction which is why Mr. G fears being a lazy slob. But that won’t happen with me around. Yes, he’s definitely feeling better, thanks. I hope Suzanne is, too.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Fritz, Fritz, Fritzy (does anyone call you that? – I used to love when Kyra Sedgwick/Brenda called her husband/character Fritzy on The Closer) — I thought you were our friend! Talk to you soon.

  8. I love your approach to retirement and how you’re prioritizing everything on your to-do list. You deserve some down time, but still have structure in focusing on one thing every day.

    Although super jealous, I know you’ve worked hard to get to this point, so it’s nice to read that retirement is blissful for you. I have no doubt that it will continue to be so 🙂

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks for the good thoughts, Harmony. I don’t do the “Miracle Morning” like Mr. G but I want to find some over-arching approach that works for me. I’m still a work-in-progress.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      True, Lila. If the activity is very brief you might not want it to be the main focus of your day. For us, that’s usually fine though because we find so many things to do even when we’re doing nothing.

      We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves for freedom. We’ll see how that pans out. Thanks for the good wishes.

  9. Love your attitude. It sounds indeed like you are living the dream!

    Also the following sentence really resonates with me. “If given a choice between boredom and super busy, I pick boredom”

    I complain about being bored at times, but I far prefer the boredom feeling to the feeling of being over-stressed and exhausted!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Mr. G always talks about how “lame” we are because we’re boring. As people we’re probably not THAT boring but our lifestyle can be pretty boring. Here’s a good example – we were in Italy (our only trip out of the country so far) but we were only in Rome for one day. Everyone said “you gotta see the Vatican, you MUST see the Vatican” but we were more interested in seeing the Colosseum. Could we have fit them both in? Yes. Did we want to? No. Do I regret that I didn’t see that Vatican? No. Will I ever be back in Rome? Probably not – but – oh well.

  10. That’s pretty much how we’ve been rocking it these past 3 years of early retirement.

    About one action item per day is enough to get things done and not make us feel overly busy or stressed out. Sometimes that’s a DIY task. Sometimes that’s hanging out with family or friends. Sometimes that’s filling out forms or researching a particular purchase or tax issue.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      You also get to do things with your kids when others your age are working. That’s gotta be an amazing feeling! My aim is to be as mellow as you are. I’ve got a ways to go. Thanks for commenting, Justin.

  11. It’s true, sometimes we really feel like we have to pack it our day to the absolute maximum. You just feel that you can’t waste time and even your supposed “downtime” is a short period of time that you rush through it.

    It honestly sounds absolutely amazing to be able to just slow the pace of the day down and actual have time to daydream! Only time I can actually recall doing something like this was when I was on a holiday.

    I am definitely going to try your advice and just find time to do 1 activity, without checking my phones or emails. Just to really take in and enjoy the moment, because time really flies when we take it for granted.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      The thing about a holiday, or a long drive, is that it provides what I call “suspended animation”. The situation forces me to not be able to do anything. I can’t text in a moving vehicle and I can’t hear a phone conversation. When we were on vacation from work, I never checked work email or voicemail. I told co-workers not to contact me unless our office building burned down, in which case I’d hope they all get out safely.

      Thanks for stopping by. Let me know how it goes if you try out the one-thing-a-day approach.

  12. Sounds great! I know that when i was working a regular job, I used to get really frustrated at Jon’s busy, which would be two errands. Now, I totally relate.

    This weekend, which saw a girl scout outing, shopping expedition, church commitments, and a trip to the ballet was way more involved that I like on my weekends…and it looks like we won’t stop until after Thanksgiving.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Wow, Emily, you certainly had a busy weekend. Busy, but productive. Was the ballet in Raleigh? I’d love to get back into seeing some live dance performances.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Funny but Mr. G never gets colds – although the prior weekend he went to a ballgame and was around more people than usual. Thanks for your comment ZJ.

  13. LOVE this, Mrs. Groovy! I really, desperately need to take your advice. “Do one thing” would benefit me – and disconnecting from everything else (cell phone, computer, etc.) is exactly what is needed to really slow down. Thank you, thank you!!!

    And I’m glad I was a small part of your “one thing” last Thursday. It was great to meet you both “in person”! 🙂

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Believe me, I know it’s hard. Even when I manage to do just one thing a day, that doesn’t mean my brain isn’t working over time and thinking about 100 more. I really need to practice meditation more!

      It was great meeting you too!

  14. Congratulations on your accomplishments.

    As for me, one task a day is a little too ambitious. One task a week and I’d be content.

    Truth be told, I’ve never been busier being “retired” and that’s with not planning anything.

    Looking forward to reading about all your adventures.

    Besos Sarah.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I read your comment while we were driving, Sarah, and I let out a good laugh! I’d probably be content with one task a week too.

      Last week I asked Mr. Go how the heck we ever got anything done when we where working. It still feels like there are not enough hours in the day. I’m sure we’ll get into a groove but for now it’s so new we’re just feeling things out.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  15. I’m going to start using my weekends to do just one thing and let everything else just pan out.
    At the moment we talk so much about all the things we need to do and end up not doing any of it.
    Hope you get plenty more movie matinees they sound perfect.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      When the list of things we need to do gets too large, it becomes paralyzing. At least that’s how it works for me. If you don’t do the one thing a day plan you can pick out the one most important thing of the day and make sure you do that first. Thanks for commenting. I’ll let you know when we see some more matinees!

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