A semi-retiree who works part-time from home found there’s such thing as too much alone time — even for an introvert

James R.

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James R.
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Photo courtesy of James R.
  • Self-described introvert James R., 64, says one of the biggest surprises since retiring is just how quiet it can be.
  • He retired about five years ago, and still works part-time online from home – but it’s much quieter than his university office.
  • He’s started to find ways to combat that silence by getting into woodworking as a hobby, starting a book club with friends, and getting out of the house more.
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After retiring from his full-time teaching position at a university, James R., who preferred to not use his full name to protect his privacy, found that life got much quieter in retirement.

He lives with his wife, who is still working, in Minnesota. These days, he has the house to himself, working part-time online as a teacher. His typical day includes working and answering emails in the morning, followed by a walk if it’s nice out, and perhaps some more work, or tinkering in his wood shop in the afternoons.

One thing he didn’t expect about retirement? Just how quiet it can be.

“I’m not an extrovert,” James told Business Insider. “I’m an introvert and I’m not particularly social. And so I figured working at home all the time was perfect for me. But even a person like me occasionally needs to be around people.”

“I noticed I would be talking to telemarketers,” he continued. “I never got to the point where I talked to one of those robots, but I realized that I need to have some human interaction.”

Working from home doesn’t have to mean always being alone

Once he realized it, he started trying to find ways to combat it. “There’s a book club that now meets in my basement. We do that every other week during the day in fall, winter, and spring,” he said, “And I’m always on the lookout for some type of club or group.”

He’s found that getting out of the house can help, too. “Even if I don’t talk to anyone, if I get out of the house and get in the car and go somewhere and talk to the salesperson, it’s better than staying home and talking to no one,” he said.

He’s also picked up some – admittedly solitary – hobbies to fill his time. As other retirees have told Business Insider, having a hobby can be incredibly helpful. Bill Brown, 65, said that having a hobby has been essential for keeping his self-described type-A personality in check, and also does woodworking in his free time.

For James, it’s woodworking and model-making. “Anything you can do with your hands is good for your mind,” he said. “I’m still not a skillful modeler or woodworker or anything. But to me, it’s been very rewarding to start to learn, and good to play and practice.”

Even for an introvert, there’s such thing as too much alone time.