Like most new retirees, I have a lot of things on my to-do list. Many of them are items that had long been neglected during my working years. Despite having this list, there are days when I just don’t feel like tackling anything on it. Perhaps it’s a carryover from all those years of putting these things off.
Last week I had a day like that. I decided to call some former colleagues, just to check in and see how they’re doing. Not surprisingly, I reached lots of answering machines, and I dutifully left messages. As of two days later, none of them had called me back. Seems like the expression “out of sight, out of mind” was created with recent retirees in mind.
So how does a retiree spend those days when you need something to do, but you’re not in the mood for anything productive? As a service to all of us, I’ve put together a list of boring ways to spend time, and watching the grass grow and paint dry didn’t make the cut.
It may seem counterintuitive to provide a list of boring things to do to cope with boredom. Everything is relative. The items on my list should make taking a nap seem like an adrenaline rush by comparison.
1. Calibrate the timer you use to color your hair; make sure it’s in sync with the one that you use when you boil eggs.
2. Use one of the calibrated timers to see how long it takes for your cat’s shadow to move three feet across the rug in the sunroom. The cat should not be in motion during this exercise.
3. Read (or re-read) all the paperwork you’ve received about the annual Medicare open enrollment period. Don’t forget that it ends earlier this year—December 7th.
4. Line up your herbs and spices in alphabetical order. You can do this within the two subgroups, or you can combine the two together into one big alpha grouping, whichever you find most boring.
5. Clip your cats’ toenails. That’s all your cats, all their paws, all their toes. Do not try to do this while you are timing their shadows.
6. Call your own number from your phone. Count how many busy signals you get before the call goes into limbo. This works best from a landline.
7. Weigh yourself every hour on the hour to see if you’ve lost anything from the last check-in. You do not have to exercise between weigh-ins. In fact, the less active you are, the more boring the task will become.
8. Reorganize the sock drawer, grouping them by color—black to the left, brightest colors to the right. When you’re done, dump the drawer out onto your bed and do it a second time, reversing the order. Repeat this exercise two more times, or until you’re so bored that you’d rather time the cat’s shadow again.
9. Catalogue all the food in your pantry, noting the sodium content. Then calculate the average per serving and vow not to re-buy anything with sodium in the top quartile.
10. Make a list of 10 things that you think are boring to do. Read your list out loud. Then read this list out loud. Decide which list sound the most boring. Read that one out loud again.
Congratulations! You are now done with this boring retirement exercise. Feel free to celebrate with a nice glass of wine. I’m going to.