I’ve written before that the biggest difference that I’ve come to associate with early retirement is that your fundamental relationship with the concept of TIME changes. That is, instead of time being USED as a resource of productivity, it becomes SAVORED as a resource of lifestyle enjoyment.
Recently, I’ve been reading the magnificent history book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It might be the best book I have ever read. In one passage he discusses the history of timekeeping and how it emerged in the 1800s Industrial Revolution. As humankind left behind an Agrarian world where 98% of people worked on a farm, timekeeping became a key requirement for our new society to operate. Factories, trains, and the bigger governments required people to work together in new ways which meant they all had to be on the same clock.
In the book, he talks about how ancient civilizations did surprisingly little to keep track of time. There might have been only handful of sundials in an entire Assyrian, Roman, or Inca city. Even in medieval times, a city’s plaza might have had a clock tower, but they were notoriously inaccurate and required constant upkeep. In fact, he states that the modern household probably has more timekeeping devices than a typical medieval country!
Our entire society is now set up to manage work processes as efficiently as possible by setting everything to a synchronized cadence of hours, minutes, and seconds.
This being the case, it’s not surprising that after taking off my wristwatch at my MegaCorp retirement party has been a huge eye opener. I haven’t worn one ever since. I can now regularly let 5, 15, 60, or 90 minutes drift by when I am purely focused on something I am enjoying and not thinking about where someone else needs me to be.
I’m now happily disconnected from the need to be in perfect sync with everyone else in the world at almost all times. MegaCorp time requirements is always a tangled mess of calendars and meetings. Now, rather than have ten meetings to be on time for every day, I typically have just one or two things I have committed to on a given day – and they are usually fun things like lunch with a friend, a game, or a trip to the mall/movie/park.
There isn’t really a moral to this story for folks that still live on the MegaCorp rhythm, but it has been an eye opener for everyone I talk with that has made the jump to the work ‘afterlife’. It is one of the things I try to explain to people who haven’t yet made the jump. Until you’ve done it, I think it is hard to understand what it is to start relating to time in a completely new way!
Related: Daily Schedule in Early Retirement
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