Why not just do more of what you already do?

One of retireby40’s commenters asked why I don’t just do more of what I do in my free time now if I retire.  Just add 8-9 hours of that instead of working.

What do I do in my free time?  I read romance novels and surf the internet.

As delightful as both are, I do not *want* to spend another 8-9 hours/day doing that.  I would have to start reading crappy romance novels because I’d be out of the good ones and I would probably get tired of the tropes.  As for surfing the internet– the amount I do now doesn’t exactly make me *happy* as it is.

Re: romance novels, there’s something called diminishing marginal utility, which basically means that as you do more of something, the additional happiness boost you get from doing it gets smaller and smaller.  So there’s a big happiness boost from hour one of reading a romance novel, but by hour 10 you kind of want to do something else.

Re: internet surfing, I’m afraid that’s an unhealthy addiction and not really subject to rational economic theory.

So, no, I’m afraid I would actually have to come up with other stuff to do in my waking hours.  And one can only sleep so much.

What do you do in your free time now?  Would you want to add 8-9hrs/day of that if you were retired?  What else would you add?

38 Responses to “Why not just do more of what you already do?”

  1. mnitabach Says:

    I spend a lot of my free time on perfumery (composing, assembling, trying, and iteratively refining my own ethanol-based fine fragrance compositions), and I could easily spend full eight hour days on it.

  2. Ann Says:

    Well, I got laid off much closer to a normal retirement age, so all my kids were out of the house. But at the time I was already volunteering with 3 organizations, trying to read as much as possible, part of a book club, and involved with my family. Now that I’m retired I do most of those things. I’ve taken on the presidency of one of the volunteer organizations, so I’ve given up other leadership roles. But I do lots of reading, playing the piano, and I’ve taken up painting. I truly didn’t want to give up my job, which was not perfect, but I loved doing the statistics and hunting down fraud. But it is amazing how a person can adapt to new situations.

  3. revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

    For as long as there are good books, I’d enjoy reading 2-4 hours a day. Probably learning something for an hour a day – that’s what crafting is about for me these days. I’m not creative or clever with my hands so my end products aren’t going to be the goal, it’s the process of solving the mystery of how I do a thing. Maybe I’d get good at it eventually but maybe not and that’s ok. Languages would fit the learning bill too.
    Walk the dog an hour a day. Cook and/or bake. Some activism and some giving back work. I’d love to get back into horseback riding. If I did, that’d easily take half a day or more at a time. Maybe take swim lessons? Hopefully I won’t have lost interest in my food garden. Hopefully I still have reasons to write. This is all without taking the kids and their needs into consideration because who knows how much they’ll need me to be hands on by the time we retire (horizon as yet unknown).

  4. nanani Says:

    I have a TBR pile that threatens to devour me and a TBP (games to be played) pile on the same level, so I’d spend a lot of time catching up on that.
    Maybe also learn more things – I like languages and every one you learn comes with a whole bonus literature.

  5. SP Says:

    Cooking. Silly little house projects like organizing things (maybe I’d get into more complex projects that require tools and skill?). I’d spend a lot more time outside hiking and/or running. Maybe train for races again, or turn working out into more of a project in one way or another. Maybe read more. I should spend LESS time online. I would have to think of a way to get/be more involved in my local community on a consistant basis. This is probably something I can start thinking about now, at least on a small scale.

  6. Turia Says:

    Right now the only thing I do for fun is read, and I could EASILY read for fun for more hours in the day, every day.

    But I also think I’d have no trouble filling my day with all the things I’d rather be doing at the moment: exercise, gardening, photography, and writing things that are not emails or lectures. I imagine a life where I can write for most of the morning and then spend the afternoons walking/biking/hiking and taking pictures and reading. There’d be time for friends and family, and time for volunteer work/activism, and some travel and restaurants, etc., but the four cornerstones of writing, active time outside, photography, and reading could fill up my days for years on end and I would not get bored.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The thing about being an academic is that a third of our jobs is really what many people tend to want to do while retired anyway.

      I am just so tired of the rejection cycle!

      • Turia Says:

        Oh by writing, I mean novels, not research. I will gleefully never do a second of research again the minute I can get away with it. I’m totally down with being rejected for fiction, but I find producing research to be soul-crushing (especially since I’m in a field where it’s easy to wonder what the point of it all is).

  7. bookishbiker Says:

    I usually have lots of fun things to do on weekends/evenings. I could use the 40 hours currently spent working on doing must-dos that I ignore or give short shrift to right now, like cleaning and yardwork.

    Things I did this weekend:
    – went to a wacky play that was a combo Scooby gang/horror movie; started with dinner out first
    – took a neighborhood history walking tour; saw Dune in the theater (great masking/spacing/low head count)
    – went for a walk; worked on a puzzle; talked with a friend; finished a book

    Things I thought I might do but didn’t: cook something (I’m still eating from a big batch of cabbage rolls), clean out my yard, go on a hike, go visit friends, go to the art museum.

    Perhaps if you had more brain energy you’d expand your reading list – during the worst of the pandemic all I could read was very light/fluffy, but over the past 6 months I’ve been expanding into other types of fiction too. I currently belong to 2 book groups and one cookbook club (potlucks all from one cookbook, usually, sometimes theme potlucks), have season tickets to one theater company, have a membership to the art museum I keep forgetting to use. I participate in canned food swaps a couple times a year so a few weekends out of the year I’ll do some canning. I cook with a friend a couple times a month. I used to participate in a film class.

    • bookishbiker Says:

      …Not that I’m criticizing your reading tastes, but agree about the marginal utility of romance novels!
      I forgot I finished a knitting project I started a year ago. I wouldn’t want to knit a ton more unless I could find something good to do with the results.

      • Alice Says:

        When our daughter was born, the hospital brought in a batch of little knitted/crocheted hats for us to choose from. Winter-born babies need hats to go home in and to wear even inside once they’re home. They said that the hats were all made by volunteers. It’s not a big project, but could be a nice-to-do off and on when you feel like it thing? My daughter was still wearing that hat when she was almost 2, just rolled down a little more than when she was a newborn. I still have it as a baby keepsake.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, in the past I have read more difficult fiction. But maybe also the world has to stop burning first, I’m not sure. However, I’m not *currently* reading more difficult stuff, so the guy’s comment doesn’t include my 15 year old TBR pile.

      Things I did this weekend: Figured out Christmas plans and booked an airBNB in conjunction with DH. Reread 2.5 Jordan Hawke Widdershins books. Wrote blog posts. Laundry. Made food. Menu planned, put away groceries. Did postcards to voters. Figured out DC2’s schoolwork for next week. Read some work email. Texted with a friend about what to vote for in the local elections (figured it all out and voted today!)

      What is also on my weekend to-do list that didn’t get done: Email, talk to DH re paper, write rec letter for PhD student.

  8. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    Since I’m old enough to retire early if I wanted to, and since some of my retired colleagues have said “It’s great, why did I put it off so long?” I spent awhile browsing the blogs of retired women roughly a decade older than I am, including some academics. They mostly spend their time on language classes, art lessons, looking after the grandchildren, handcrafts, and reading serious fiction. Some garden, though some give up the garden. Apart from the language study, my thought was “Don’t wait till you get home, shoot me now.” I like reading fun fluff, but could not do that all day every day. Gardening properly is a lot of heavy work that I don’t want to keep up forever. I have no great interest in handcrafts or art lessons (what do you do with all the paintings and pottery??). Piano practice sounds attractive but I have limited hand energy, and I’d rather use it on typing/writing than on music. So I’m just going to keep working till I’m not having fun at work any longer.

  9. Carolyn Says:

    I spend a fair bit of my free time on political activism and would be happy to be able to devote more time to it — but not 8 hours a day. I would very much like to move it up my priority list.

  10. Omdg Says:

    I would probably swim more. In theory I would volunteer, but I don’t think I could stomach being at the bottom of a badly run organization. I’m theory I would read more, but honestly I have a really hard time finding books I like. In theory I would write a book, but I probably wouldn’t. Honestly I would probably rot in front of the television like my mom did, oh, and go to drs appointments. I better not ever retire. I suspect I am profoundly unsuited to it.

  11. First Gen American Says:

    I know for me there was a one year stint when my job was pretty brainless and that’s when I started the blog. My brain needed more stimulus.

    The short answer for me is there are still so many things to learn about. For every one hobby I tried already there are 100 more that I haven’t had time to devote energy to. My mom and MIL were both big sewing people and I never learned. I could start making cosplay costumes or create steampunky looking gadgets. There are a lot of hobbies that are very time consuming that weren’t practical to get good at while working and taking care of kids. The cheesemaking course I took was great but I immediately knew I didn’t have 8 hours in a row to do hobbies like that and become an expert cheesemaker. I’ve always loved learning new things. It’s a fun thing to imagine.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      What hobbies do you do now that you woikd do more of?

      • First Gen American Says:

        I’d probably start blogging again for my brain, or write a book.

        I would volunteer more but not in a leadership position. At least not right away. Depends how much energy my brain has. If it’s not solving hard problems at work maybe It will be okay with it.

        I’d also do more gardening and more varied exercise. Like time consuming hobbies, we don’t do much rock climbing, mountaineering or scuba diving anymore because there is so much setup time, approach time, etc. most of what we do is bike or ski after work as that is quick and easy. I always wanted to hike the 50 peaks in the adirondacks. Do a lot more of the Appalachian trail. Visit friends who now live in far off places.

        Your DH already did this in between jobs, but also more complicated time consuming cooking/baking. I only decorate cookies once a year (Xmas) because it’s like a 3 day process. But I always think to myself I’ll make cute jack of lantern cookies or Easter ones or clovers for st pattys but it never happens.

        I literally can go on and on about stuff I’d do.

        I more worry about what will happen when my arthritis prevents me from physically doing many of these above things. The real question is what do you do once your body prevents you from doing the things you love. My mom can’t garden anymore or see very well. (So she can’t sew or read either.) She still likes being around people and she still cooks. I need to take her shopping more but even that is getting hard.

  12. Debbie M Says:

    Before retiring, I spent my free time on chores, reading, blogging, watching movies, socializing, ballroom dancing, crafts, travel, and other stuff I’m forgetting.

    I added more time on chores, which I liked (I mean, I like having things cleaner, neater, and more organized). I added an additional kind of reading (I was reading mostly recommended books, but I added books about–and set in–other countries). I finally allowed myself to play video games, and indeed, those are time-consuming, and I’ve decided not to add any more to my repertoire unless they are educational (like DuoLingo) or get me out of my chair (like the VR games Walkabout (mini-golf) and Beat Saber (um, slashing through oncoming blocks with light sabers to the beat of music). I also have more time to play board games. For a while, I went with a friend once a week to play on the ropes course at a local-ish water park, but they closed it down.

    I started trying out activities organized by my library. The book club is okay. I really liked monthly board game night. A library in another town had a cooking club we attended once. (Now it’s all shut down for covid.)

    I also started taking more informal classes, especially from the Lifetime Learning Institute, which requires you to be at least 50 years old (but no one checks! I could have sneaked in earlier!). Unfortunately, they’re not quite as fun as I’d been fantasizing about before I turned 50. I did enjoy the ones on knitting and on crocheting, but not the ones on Spanish or air conditioning. Still, there are more that sound good.

    I thought I would audit more classes at the local university, but by the time I retired, the shuttle bus system was kind of horrible. (Back in my day–when I first started grad school in 1985–the good buses came every 3-5 minutes and the bad ones every 15-20 minutes. When I retired, my bus was scheduled every 35 minutes and unreliable, which leads to a lot of standing around in the hot sun.)

    I also spend more time trying to learn Spanish. I took 4 semesters at the local community college with friends, and they actually had study-abroad, so I got to spend 3 weeks in Spain learning Spanish IV. I actually made some new friends in study groups for those classes, now mostly just Facebook friends, but I have been to a couple of one gal’s parties and to another gal’s graduation.

    I think ASL would be even more useful (just because it’s good to have multiple types of languages, and currently I have only spoken and written), but I suck so badly at learning languages that I haven’t even started.

    I spent some time trying to learn Python programming–that’s still on my list, but not currently happening. And I participated in NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) twice–once writing a horrible novel (it turns out I’m bad at characters and plot) and once just bits and pieces of a horrible math book. Well, I’m glad I tried. I’m still hoping to try writing a song.

    I also took on some part-time and/or seasonal jobs. My favorite were working for different colleges at my old university, doing just the fun parts of my old job, but those jobs have petered out. Then I’ve also worked elections, partly because the office is walking distance to my house, but after a lifetime of bureaucracy, never again. Oh, and I helped out at a couple of two-day temp jobs my boyfriend got packing up and then unpacking computers for companies that were moving. It’s hard for me to think of things that are important AND fun AND I am good at them.

    I also should be working on updating my house, but that’s also not happening.

    I thought I would spend more time on other hobbies like roller skating (I’m too chicken now!), cooking (nope, still just barely more than minimum), playing guitar (nope–not motivated since my friend stopped having informal music recitals), making better Halloween costumes (nope, still pretty simple), and sewing (no room to pull out the sewing machine right now; but on the other hand I did make face masks). I thought I might volunteer with the Girl Scouts again, but things are very, very different than they were in the late 1980s, and I just don’t wanna. I mean, I even have a friend with a child in Girl Scouts–I could have volunteered as an assistant leader in that troop, but her stories were just too scary. I keep forgetting/remembering that I’m a data person, not a people person. I also thought I would meet working friends at their jobs for picnic lunches, but that hasn’t happened yet. Well, before covid I would take a city bus into downtown to meet a retired friend for lunch at the central library and then we would do work at the same table.

    I don’t get in a lot of walking like when I took the bus to work, so I spend more time walking around the neighborhood.

    I learned I want to travel more now. I actually like traveling just once a year, like when I worked, but now that half my friends and all my family have moved away, I’d like to add trips to visit them. Plus they have more time and money for travel and sometimes invite us to join them.

    I also have been doing more activism, because OMG, but I don’t enjoy that at all.

    • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

      You just reminded me that I would like to learn ASL as well! Just because.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Yes! It would be so good for when you’re on opposite sides of a closed window. Or when you’re supposed to be quiet. Or when it’s too loud to hear people. Or maybe when you’re across the room but have a good line of sight. And obviously to talk to deaf people and in case you become deaf yourself.

  13. mnitabach Says:

    It’s kind of interesting that no one has said they’ll get a PhD (or a SECOND PhD). 😹😹😹 When I’m drunk on twitter I sometimes think I’ll get a PhD in medieval paleography, but then thank God I sober up!!! 😹 😹 😹

  14. Alice Says:

    If this is a a future in which I’m capable and have no caregiving responsibilities in any direction?

    I think I’d probably put more time into exercising, since that’s an area where I have to fight for time right now. I like running, and I’d like to do a race someday. Not to win or place particularly, just to know that I’d done it. And I’d like to feel physically strong. Right now, I feel extremely average.

    I’d probably get back to art again, too. I used to do a lot of drawing and that faded off. I like it, but– time commitment. Plus a bit of worry that I’ve lost my skill from disuse.

    My reading time would probably go up, assuming my eyes were good for it. I like a lot of genres and am also fond of different kinds of nonfiction.

    I’d like the idea of travel, as long as it wasn’t by myself or if I’ve become better at it than I used to be. When it was just me, I tended to cheap out and mostly not do things other than wander around. Having someone else involved makes me feel more okay about the expense of eating out, going to things that change admission, etc. With the experience of having to plan and execute pre-pandemic family trips, maybe I’ve gotten better at it. Might be worth finding out.

    I might like to take literature and history classes, but would mainly want to do them for the assigned readings, class discussions, and writing papers. Not with the goal of getting a degree. Pick the classes I want and just have fun with it. That said, I’m not sure I’d want to be the one older person in the room.

  15. xykademiqz Says:

    I plan on being serious about fiction (publishing longer stuff and not just flash, which is all I have time for right now), maybe running/editing a short-fiction magazine, getting involved in local and local-ish horror and sci-fi conventions. I also want to finally have some time to properly learn to use some digital graphics tools to up my art game and maybe run a web comic. Also, there are books (so many genres!) and shows and TV that hubs and I plan on watching until we drop dead. Retirement is gonna be awesome!

    • undine Says:

      Honestly, I’d do more of what xykademiqz proposes, except: archives. Maybe do more local history. Go to archives. Transcribe all the things I’m interested in & write about them.

  16. cfroning Says:

    The problem I’m running into right now is the narrowing of quality hours in the day. While I’m working, it takes up the bulk of those. If I retired, I would enjoy having the chance to do more of the things I love that get short shrift right now: cooking, gardening, mountain biking, reading more challenging literature, getting my Spanish up to snuff. I would like to take up drawing, too. That falls off the end of the list at present.


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