Lately, Greg & I have seemingly been so busy, we were having trouble finding time to just sit down and work on projects that we wanted to focus on. Don’t get me wrong – retirement has been great – but we are still young(ish) and our minds are always going with ideas of things we want to do, work on, or accomplish still.
Enter my idea of “Project August.” For the whole month, Greg and I committed to each other a plan to work “full time” during the week (more on this below). Weekends were left free to do grocery shopping, laundry, and anything else we wanted to do for fun. If stuff or activities came up that we wanted to do or participate in, great – as long as it was after work hours or on the weekend.
I also spent time coming up with menu plans for the week, so we could get all our grocery shopping done with just one trip to town every week. This was a good idea, because lately every time we went to town to “just pick up a few items,” we also decided to have lunch out somewhere. And 3 trips/week to town and back on the bus (with lunch out) is of course more expensive and takes up more time during the week than 1 trip to town. Greg and I love a good challenge, so the more we talked about it, Project August soon also became about trying to live on a leaner budget, which we thought we could do and still have fun. The menu preparation worked great; I loved having a list of things to prepare each night and already knowing that I had all the ingredients I needed. Lunches we kept simple with fruit and oatmeal or toast. Breakfast has always been a huge pot of coffee.
Our “work week” also included hiking every morning (I replaced this with yoga once a week) and lifting weights (using our own bodies for weight – sit-ups, pushups, lunges, squats, arm dips).
Basically our Monday – Friday work week looked like this:
- Hike 3 miles (or more)
- Lift weights
- Shower, have coffee, relax
- Work for 2 hours
- Lunch Break
- Work for 2 more hours (<<– I fit my piano and Spanish practice in here)
- Wine-o-clock: Have a glass of wine and relax!
- Cook and eat dinner
To further our concentration for working hours, we gave up all social media and email during this time. We agreed that it’s so easy to go on Facebook to do one thing, like send someone a message… then you end up looking at your notifications, then you comment under someone’s post, then someone has a question, then you go to your email to do something, then to Google to search or research something… One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you have wasted an hour doing who knows what, when you only meant to use one minute to message someone.
If you’re curious, “working” for me entailed working on my cookbook (which is now done! Click here to buy!), my blog, arm candy (35 bracelet orders this month!), marketing, practicing piano and practicing Spanish (Dualingo is mi amigo).
“Working” for Greg involved a lot of this:
Just kidding. “Working” for Greg entailed writing his book (he’s currently working on a memoir), working on his blog, photography, and marketing/other business ideas. I was impressed by how we both pretty much really got down to work at the pre-scheduled time every day. We didn’t chat with each other, just concentrated on our own tasks at hand. Then afterwards we would talk about what we got done.
It’s funny how we used to work 8+ hours a day at our office jobs in the States, but we feel like we get so much more done in these 4 solid working hours here (no chit chatting, no checking social media, no sitting around “trying” to look busy when we’re not – NOT that I did any of these things in the States). When you “work” for yourself, it’s just more meaningful: we WANT to work on the things we’re working on, it’s actually fun, and we have a huge sense of accomplishment afterwards.
* groceries, etc. included a couple of lunches out, bus fares and a day trip to San Jose (bus fares and two taxi rides).
Note: Wi-Fi is included in our rent (as well as cable TV, which we never use). Also, we both have cell phones and use pay-as-you-go minutes, only spending about 2 mil ($4) every month or two, which includes internet as well.
So, now that August is over, how did Project August work out for us? It was a total hit! So much so, that we are thinking about making this our permanent life style, give or take. I guess maybe you can’t technically call us “retired” anymore, but who needs a label? We are just… us. Doing what we do, keeping calm(er), having fun, and carrying on.