I did my MA after almost 10 years in the workplace. I went back to being a full-time student off the back of a particularly demanding role as an assistant director of studies at a language school. During the first term of my Masters, I thought it was a breeze. I'd go to my lectures, doing all the suggested reading and assignments, and still be finished by four o'clock each day. I couldn't understand why my fellow students were complaining about the heavy workload and struggling to keep up. I wondered whether there was something I was missing. By the end of a year of relaxing into the student lifestyle though, I too was moaning about being super busy. It's amazing how quickly your perception of time can change.
When I started on my reduced working hours a few weeks back, the days seemed to stretch endlessly. I was restless and frustrated, consciously aware of how to fill my day around the couple of hours work I was managing. I'd fill the hours with useful chores at the start of the week and soon run out of stuff to do - at least stuff that wasn't going to aggravate my pains, which rules out quite a lot of things. Somehow though, I'm now relaxing into it and days seem to be passing more easily. It's not so much about finding more stuff to fill the time as just slowing down and expecting less. I'm spending more time over things and not beating myself up about being lazy, useless or unproductive.
Working less is definitely a state of mind. Students manage it effortlessly and I guess it's something people are forced to adapt to in retirement, but it just feels a bit odd in the middle of your working life, especially when it's enforced rather chosen.