Through the start of the year, I was pleasantly busy: working, hanging out with family, playing games, reading blogs, blogging, reading books, learning Japanese, doing some non-work programming. Lots of stuff, but none of it was overwhelming, and I enjoyed the mix.
This has, unfortunately, changed over the last few months: I’ve changed from feeling pleasantly busy to pretty overwhelmed. Looking back, I think the main event that happened was that Miranda started taking both German and violin lessons. These are both great ideas; but she needs me to help her practice German, and her violin teacher does the Suzuki method, which means that I’m not only expected to attend lessons (no big deal) but also help Miranda with her daily violin practice. Which I completely approve of: it’s amazing to see Miranda make noticeable progress in her violin playing literally every single week!
But this has completely sunk my weekday evening schedule. Before, I’d get home at 6:15. Between 6:15 and 8:15, I’d go jogging (on Tuesdays and Thursdays), have a bit of time to do something else (on other days), usually be able to squeeze in my Japanese vocabulary review, and still have time to cook and eat dinner. And then, at 8:15, Miranda would start getting ready for bed; every other day, I’d be the one to tuck her in and read her a story, and sometimes I needed to do some vocab review, but in general I’d have the time from 8:15 to 10:15 to read blogs, maybe blog myself, maybe play a video game, maybe watch a movie, maybe read a book.
Now, though, things are completely different. Between 6:15 and 8:15, I have to add in violin practice: this means that I don’t have any time to do something just for fun in that period, and I probably don’t have time to review Japanese. And between 8:15 and 10:15, I have to add in German practice (for Miranda), and Japanese review (for me). The result is that I don’t start having free time until around 9:15 or so: one hour (or less) of free time an evening, instead of two hours (or more) of free time an evening. Which is about enough to keep up with my blog reading, but nothing else; for example, my midweek blog posting rate has dropped to approximately zero. And, as much as I enjoy the Vintage Game Club, it doesn’t help: when that’s going, I want to play along with the games, which I sometimes have to do midweek, which means that I don’t have any free time at all!
Not a sustainable pace; but I’m not sure what to do about it. I really am glad that Miranda is doing violin and German (and, incidentally, they’re seriously eating into her free time, too); I hope that, at some point over the next two years, she’ll transition to needing me less on those, but for now she does need my help. I’m not going to stop learning Japanese: I’ve invested enough into that that I really do feel that it’s going to pay off, but it’s not doing that significantly yet, so now is no time to stop.
I though about using blogging as a bit of a touchstone here: my blog, like my life, is a bit of a mishmash, so can I come up with a theme for my blog and use that to shine clarity on what I want to do? For example, the VGC activity has turned this into more of a video game blog than it was in the past: do I want to run with that? After thinking about it for a while, though, I’ve decided that the answer is no: I like writing about video games, but if I were to turn this into a video game blog (or fork off a separate video game blog, or even have three blogs, one for games, one for personal stuff, and one for lean / agile / theory of constraints / gtd / managing), then I’d have to focus more on video game playing/thinking and exclude other things that are important to me, and that’s not the right thing for me right now.
So I’m pretty confused as to what to do. I think I’m going to start trying to move Japanese vocab review to lunch times at work, as much as possible: that’s possible now that the system is computerized, and even if that only frees up 20 minutes or so an evening, that 20 minutes will make a big difference to me right now. I should probably remove a few blogs from my feed reeder for the time being, too. (Which is another VGC annoyance: I’ve discovered several interesting new video game blogs through it…) I doubt I’ll be taking on any new programming projects until something else calms down, either; fortunately, the memory project is now at a stage where it’s useful, so while it could use more work, it’s okay if I only do that on weekends, and not every weekend.
Maybe that will make a difference? I’ll give it a few months and see. And it’s good that this hasn’t happened because of inertia, that I can point to specific events that have caused this overcommitment: it may take a couple of years, but those events will go away eventually, and it gives me an idea for what warning signs to look out for in the future.
This post has not been revised since publication.