Generations: The Passing of the Baton
Better Brain Health

Email Issues Affect Time Goes By

I will get to those email issues in a moment, but first:

This is the third week of the new publishing schedule at Time Goes By – Monday, Wednesday, Friday instead of Monday through Friday. Saturday (Interesting Stuff) and Sunday (Elder Music from Peter Tibbles) remain unchanged.

For more than 10 years, I've written or, occasionally, arranged for posts to be written by other people, 365 days a year. That's plenty of time to settle into a habit and even petrify it.

Now, cutting that schedule by close to 30 percent is a dramatic increase in the amount of personal, unstructured time I have. You might even compare it to retirement or, better, going from full-time work to part time.

Routine is a powerful force and a sudden change to it is disruptive, even mildly disorienting.

So far, in two-and-a-half weeks, I've read three or four books I wouldn't have done before haviing this “extra” time. But most of all, instead of anything new, I've spread out everything else I regularly do – chores and pleasures alike - slowed it all down and done a lot more pottering about.

You know the old saying: Pottering increases to fill the time allotted.

Perhaps this experience is comparable to that of newly retired people. I didn't go through that because by the time I realized, after a layoff, that I'd never be hired again, I had already been writing this blog every day for a year.

There was hardly a blip in my routine from a full-time salaried job to a full-time unpaid job. My brain was equally engaged and I still had (self-imposed) deadlines so I didn't notice much change except that my commute was dramatically shorter.

So this is the first time in retirement that I have faced unstructured time. I have no concern about using it. I have enough interests and curiosities to fill up my days ten times over. I mention it because it is a novelty for me and it's kind of fun watching what I do with myself during this period.

However, those two extra days are not yet entirely mine which brings me to the email issues.

After a period of consideration and research, three or four weeks ago I gave up my old email program, the one I had used for more than a decade, for a new one.

I had given the change serious thought over several weeks, learned all the particulars of moving my settings, addresses and storage, etc. and spent the greater part of a day making it happen. Before a week had passed, I realized I'd made a terrible mistake.

The details are too tedious to relate and not important. Basically, I didn't like using the new program. The upshot is that after spending another several hours restoring the settings of the old program, my email went to hell.

A large percentage of it has stopped arriving. When it does arrive, some is in duplicate, triplicate and even quadruplicate. Others arrive hours, even a day late. There is no pattern. Among the missing emails are subscriptions, personal friends, monthly bills (eek) and blog comments.

The company that hosts my two blogs allows me to have each comment emailed to me. That way I don't need to constantly check the site to read what you guys are saying while I'm doing other things on my computer.

Now, only some of those arrive and as with all other kinds of email, almost nothing is delivered from overnight. In the past, there easily were 100 to 150 new emails when I signed on each morning.

I've been working with my domain registrar to fix the problem but so far, nothing has been found that is amiss. Work continues.

The most vexing problem for me is not knowing what I am missing. In relation to TGB, in addition to comments, what questions have readers asked? Are there suggestions for Interesting Stuff not getting through? What about suggestions for blog topics? If you have emailed me in the past two weeks or so with either my main email address or via the “Contact” page on the blog, it may or may not have gotten to me.

So I am asking for your help that might aid in fixing the problem. If you have emailed something in the past two weeks or so that needs a response and not received one, please let me know.

To do this so I actually receive your emails, I have created a temporary web-based account to use instead of the “Contact” page or my main email. Here is that temporary email address:


(In case you don't know how to use that configuration, replace [at] with the @ sign and [dot] with a period.)

Inflicting my tech problems on blog readers is not my idea of a good use of this space but until this is sorted out, some unknown number of people are not receiving answers from me. Plus, I'll never know how I might really use this new time I've carved out for myself until email is working again.

Remember, I need to hear from you only if you have emailed recently without receiving an answer.

Thank you in advance for your help. I appreciate it.

Meanwhile, you might also have something to say about going from full-time work to all that open time after retirement.


As much as I value your work for us, I'm glad you're getting some time off for yourself. Retirement is great.

First, my sympathies for your tech problems. As for "all that open time after retirement," I said when I retired that I was going to indulge my short attention span, and that's pretty much what I've done. Enjoy your time.

I can sure sympathize with your email nightmare. I used to use and love Outlook but for some unknown reason it quit working. After many hours of me working on it, two tech people working on it and too much money spent trying to get the settings to hold more than a few days, I've given up on it. I hate the program I'm using now but I don't want to go through all the email woes again to try other programs. Nothing will beat Outlook (for me) when it works right.

Just to be clear for anyone who cares. the Outlook email I am using for this is the (relatively) new web-based version, not the program that's been around forever - one I disliked every day of my working life when the companies where I was employed required that we use it.

So sorry Ronni.

Glad you are slowing down your writing schedule and taking time for yourself.

When I went from full-time work to retirement, I was "drunk" on unlimited time. I didn't know how to structure it because I wanted to do--EVERYTHING. Everything, all the time. How to prioritize a million interests and beloved people to see? So, for the first six months I think I just goofed off and drifted, reveling in the novelty. Then, my innate love of order and discipline took over and all has been quite smooth ever since. You will do it. Good luck with that email.

Can anything be more frustrating than computer woes? At my advanced age I no longer have the energy or patience to tackle them.

Maybe it's time to hire a geek like Abby or McGee from NCIS to help you sort it out.

I am being facetious, of course. Geeks that can hack into the FBI or find a missing password in seconds do not exist in real life, sad to say.

Best of luck in resolving your issues.

Ronni: I admire your perseverance as you've trekked into the unknown land of 'cyber'. We, your (blogettes?), are with you in spirit. Pottering: I've found that now I can do a job correctly, as opposed to "close", or "good enough" during my working years. My payoff is simply a little glow.

After being laid off from work and not being able to find anything meaningful, I decided to retire at age 62, not what I had planned. I consoled myself knowing that now, I would have lots of time to do what I loved most, photography. Unfortunately, six months into my retirement, I took ill. This killed any free time I would have had. The next few years, my time was taken up with hospitals, doctors, rehab and social workers. Now that I am well, I never complain about me having nothing to do. I enjoy every minute of "nothing".
BTW: Having been a user of "Hotmail" or Outlook since Windows 95, I have never had a problem with it until I switched my broser to Chrome.


Perhaps this isn't the place for this comment, but you mentioned your other blog. I didn't know you had another one. Could you please let me know what it is, or perhaps someone else reading this comment could tell me. Thanks.

As to the unstructured time in retirement: I retired in 2008, and I am still not sure I have dealt appropriately with all my free time. I have regular appointments for exercise and biweekly haircuts and I have a volunteer "job" on Thursdays. Other than doctor appointments as they crop up, I don't have any structure in my "unstructured" time. I do chores, work on various things on my IPad, read several blogs daily, read books constantly, answer email, do several crossword puzzles daily, and that's it. I waste too much time watching TV in the evenings with my husband, and then it's bedtime, and I feel like I didn't get anything of purpose done!

Beth Backus...
The other blog is The Elder Storytelling Place. I don't write for it but many other people do.

Until I changed the publishing schedule here on TGB, there was always a link to the day's story from here to The Elder Storytelling Place.

I announced that those links would no longer be here now. You can subscribe at that blog. It is always linked in left sidebar of this blog.

Like life, 'retirement' seems to have happened to me while I was still making other plans. It's a long story, as it appears it may be for some others here, as well.

Apart from reading or gardening, I do not seem cut out for unstructured time. There are a lot of things in my home (a large number of them books and articles) that I should have been culling through the last couple of years, when I found myself no longer in the workforce. Instead, I have been distracted with some volunteer activities that I had been wanting to do for a long time, but never had the time. I think that may work through my system within another year or so though, which would be a good thing, as I cannot put off the culling much longer.

My husband, on the other hand, is just as happy as a clam to mostly read, and watch television and videos. That's okay with me; thirty years of being an insulin dependent diabetic has taken its toll and he has little stamina for anything else. Until two years ago, he worked nights for 18 years, in a stressful job which kept him mostly on his feet, and which he is lucky didn't kill him. I think he's pretty happy to spend his time as he does these days, and I'm thankful that he's still around to enjoy some time to himself.

Tech problems are SO frustrating! I gave up on the personal version of Outlook some time ago because it's difficult to use and never seemed to work (for me). The business version is much better. However, for the reason noted below, I no longer have access to it.

I became "involuntarily retired" at the end of last year, and suddenly had a spare 20-30 hours/week. I had a great work arrangement. I worked up to 30 hours/week, mostly from home. I built my schedule around my work hours. I was very fortunate to have been employed until a few days before turning 78.

I've managed to fill my time with volunteer work, to a large extent, and am finding that I spend more time reading a variety of blogs and commenting. I also walk for exercise, do the usual household chores and light gardening, care for our two cats--and potter around. However, I'm still working on finding the right balance. Like Cathy, my husband is content (at 85) to do mostly nothing of consequence to the world. He's not at all bothered by being "non-productive" but I'm not there yet.

To me, there is a huge difference between working part-time and being completely retired. In the first case, you still have somewhat of a structure which shapes what you do. You have to fit other things in around it.

When you are completely retired, it is like you are floating in space. If you are like many people, you will eventually have to impose some type of order if you don't want to find yourself still in your pajamas at 3:00 pm.

I have used Thunderbird as my email program for years. I use it for all my email addresses, both those associated with my various domains and also the free ones I use like gmail. Before that I used Eudora but had no problem shifting or importing old messages. It is the companion program to Firefox.

Doesn't it feel delicious to have unstructured time after working like a sled dog in our former careers!

Enjoy those hours, Ronni. You hit the ground running with this blog, and on the side, you researched your new area, found cool ways to get involved and now you have many options.

I keep hoping that one of these days you will tell your loyal readers, that you are moving back to NYC.


Because for you, there is no such thing as the word "done."

Your Montreal Fan.

Sounds as though you have followed your intuition- cut back on the blog which is opening up a whole treasure chest of things you now have time for. It took me trying lots of different things for a few years after retirement until I got a clear sense of the type of structure that serves me best. And the cool thing is that we can keep changing new ways on for size. Thanks for all of the work you do.

I was wrongfully terminated at age 70 and replaced with a younger, cheaper version. I decided to finally let it go, and have begun volunteering at Hospice and found a very small part time job using my skills near my home. It brings in a few bucks and keeps my mind sharp. I still have problems exercising like I should but Im working on it.

By the way, saw a WONDERFUL movie on Netflix called "Still Mine" with James Cameron and a beautifully aged Genevieve Bujold (remember "Anne of the Thousand Days?) A wonderful little piece about aging, love and questioning authority.

Charlotte, you were right. This is a daily habit/activity that's hard to break. So here I am, listening to echoes. (plan to read archives next?)

Penny--And what's wrong with, "...find[ing] yourself still in your pajamas at 3:00 pm." I find that on rare occasions, being in my pajamas is a good thing at bedtime - even if they are still on from the previous evening. (If fire fighters must carry me from our home at Midnight, they won't be able to smell me over the smoke!

So comforting to read that I am not alone in struggling with 'unstructured time' - ten years retired and still self flagellating on not using my time productively/satisfyingly- I am very 'busy' but would rather be satisfied and productive!

Is there a way to follow this blog on Google+ or something else? Just curious Thanks so much.

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