The o'clock syndrome and retirement

What is the o’clock syndrome? It’s the imperative, the must-do, that presents itself in the world of work when you are a full-time worker. At each hour, possibly each half hour, there may be a meeting, an appointment, a reason to leave the office, any obligation whether regular or occasional. You know the feeling, dash of a quick email or two, look at some document, quickly phone someone. Before you know it, you are in the swim of that o’clock obligation.

You could call this the daily rhythm of working life, particularly if you work in an office.

Retirement presents a different face of time. There is a chance to make your own daily and weekly rhythm, and engage in projects rather than in the piecemeal demands mentioned above. You can even take over the control of time by, for example, finishing an activity so that you can go for a walk, cook a meal, read a book, watch TV, relax.

In a broader sense the Monday-to-Fridayness of the working week gives way to a sense that even the weekend’s halo has slipped and is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

In retirement, full or partial, the phone rings less often. You don’t have to keep email alive all day with its incessant pinging of the arrivals (although this may not be easy to do). The bustle of people around you diminishes (although you can choose activities that involve people).

Perhaps your home becomes more important as you are spending more time there than ever before. In this way, the o’clock syndrome gets replaced by what I call the sundial in the lounge room: you have much more control over the flow of your activities and projects; with less attention to the time of day. Certainly, there is little need to notice the chiming of the hour.

The choice of activities becomes yours to make. Experiment and see what works for you. By the way, you can change your activities anytime that suits you, without asking permission.