Ahh, retirement. Kicking back on the porch with a book and a beverage, with nowhere you have to go and nothing you have to do. Well, it is not happening for me. I retired almost 2 years ago, and I am still waiting for that kicking back to kick in. Here is how I am handling that.
If I am going to have what I call a "free day", I have to schedule it. And then I have to impose it. Otherwise, I will just keep filling the day with chores, tasks and projects. On a day-to-day basis, I have to do a similar thing: I have to schedule free time blocks into my day or I am not going to give myself any. Thank heavens I have worked out a way to make sure I get my well earned free time!
Together, all my "work" demands could easily take over my retired life. And leave me no freer than I was when a job held me. That is where scheduling comes in for me -- to make sure that does not happen. The way I have worked it out (and it is not a coincidence), my weekly schedule includes a total of 35 task hours (five-and-a-half a day for 6 days plus a couple of unavoidable task hours on my free day). But more than double that number of waking hours are reserved for my recreation, relaxation and fun.
So I live by a weekly schedule and a check-off list of to-do's. Every Friday or Saturday, I sit down and plan the next week's schedule (after checking the extended weather forecast). Top priority is to designate a good weather day as my free day for the week, which is all mine and will for sure include a hike(1*). That done, I will note on the schedule sheet's left hand column all the tasks I should/could work on during the week. But here is the thing. That task time is limited each day to 2 time blocks: from 8:30am to 12:30pm (when any physical stuff gets done) and from 5:30pm to 7:00pm (when only paperwork gets done). The rest of every day is mine for recreation and fun.
I admit that living by a weekly schedule brings more regimentation into my retired lifestyle than I would prefer to have. But by having that structure, I make sure that I stay in control of the tasks I have to do and I also ensure that I have sufficient free time to do what I want. It is a deal with the devil that works for me.
The takeaway: Demands on your time are not all going to disappear when you retire. There are still going to be plenty of things you'll have to do that ideally you would rather not. But if you manage your tasks and your time, you can get things done and still feel nice and retired every day.
1* My Love Affair With Hiking: