As I mentioned a few weeks back, I’m now working part time. Which, of course, raises the question: what should I do on my off days?

The list of options that I’ve come up with:

  1. Goof off.
  2. Get more serious about Tai Chi and/or Nei Gong
  3. Spend more time improving my music skills.
  4. Spend more time learning Japanese.
  5. Start a programming project.
  6. Do useful stuff for the household.


Mostly goofing off would, I think, be the correct choice if I were doing this because I’m burnt out. Which I don’t think I mostly am, but I also think I probably am a little bit? And, also, I’ve been having somewhat serious energy level issues over the last year; I think it’s mostly because of allergy-induced sleep issues, but it means that I can’t count on having high-quality focus time on demand.

So I think that I definitely don’t want to stuff my off days full with plans (I already feel like my weekends are a little too planned out), and also I never want to feel guilty if, halfway through the day, I just don’t feel like I have the energy to do what I was hoping to do. Having said that, I also feel like, if I spend too much time goofing off, I’ll feel worse about things rather than better?


My Tai Chi is at a kind of interesting place: I’m getting better, but as my standards rise, I’m also seeing lots of areas where I’m not meeting those standards. And there are tons of forms that I could learn, too. I don’t think that I’m devoted enough to Tai Chi to really want to go all in with it, but I feel like spending more time there would help me from falling into a bit of a rut. (Ideally I’d find somebody to work on push hands with, instead of just doing solo forms, but I don’t have great ideas for how to do that during weekdays…)

And in terms of Nei Gong, my favorite bit of serendipity from the COVID times is that Damo Mitchell had an Internal Arts Academy for home self-study ready to launch right as COVID hit. I’ve been spending time on that pretty regularly (over lunch, and also the start/end of the workday), and I’ve been glad I have; as with Tai Chi, though, I’m also seeing that spending more time on that would be useful.(Assuming my energy levels are up for it; my sleep levels have interfered with this quite noticeably.) Also, I’m planning to start returning to the office soon, which will seriously cut down on my practice time, so I’ll have to spend more time in this area on my evenings or off days if I just want to keep my total weekly time allotment level.


Spending time on music (guitar, bass, and/or piano?) certainly feels like a good idea, all things being equal. Not a place that I’ve spent much time on recently; maybe when/if the next iteration of Rocksmith launches, that might give me a nudge in this direction.

My Japanese study had been seriously dwindling, but I made it over a hump in reading through Twelve Kingdoms, so recently I’d been pretty regularly making progress on that on weekends, reading it over / after lunch. So maybe I could extend that to other days off? I could even pick up a grammar book and try to sharpen my skills that way, too.

And I do have one idea for a programming project that sounds kind of interesting, and also some ideas about things about how to program that I’d like to work on. So maybe I could combine those.

Finally, there’s doing stuff for the household. Not a lot of things there, but to the extent that things come up, I should do more of them, given that I’ve got more time off than Liesl does. E.g. once things are a little less full at home, we’ll want to replace the bedroom carpets with hardwood floors; I should take the lead on talking to companies about that.


Given the lengths of the discussions above, it’s pretty clear where I’m leaning. I need to leave more time to recover and to work with low-energy days; so I definitely do not want to get the idea that I’m stuffing my days with projects. The programming project that I have in mind is big enough that it wouldn’t fit super comfortably with me taking only two days off a week; given that and the fact that I’m programming at work, that one is out. Spending time on music feels like a fine idea, but right now I don’t think I want to carve out time for that; I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes in a year or so, though. And I’m already enjoying reading Japanese over lunch on weekends, I might as well do that on other days off?

In terms of the Nei Gong stuff: Damo says that, if you want to get more serious about it, he finds that two-hour working sessions are a good length for his students, and ideally two of them in a day. I most reliably have energy at the start of the day, so I can try to put in a two-hour session then? And if I can do a second one in the afternoon, so much the better, but that feels optimistic; I do want to spend some time reviewing the first year Internal Arts Academy material, though, so hopefully at least I can find the time / energy to do that in the afternoon.

And I’m pretty sure I want to spend more time on Nei Gong than on Tai Chi, but also a non-zero amount of time on Tai Chi. So maybe 3–4 hours on Nei Gong and 1–2 hours on Tai Chi?


Though the downside there is that, if you take the high numbers there, it gets to 6 hours, which is uncomfortably close to an 8 hour working day. And I just don’t think that’ll be enough recovery time for me right now. Adding the lower end numbers feels more plausible, though? Especially since commute times and lunch times are time off, so 4 hours isn’t half the day, it’s only 40% of the time between 8am and 6pm.

There is also the question of what activities that fall in the broad category of “goofing off” leave me with more energy and/or feeling better about myself, and which ones leave me with less energy and/or feeling worse about myself. One goal is for me to never feel guilty during the days off about saying “I don’t have a lot of energy today so I just want to lie in bed listening to podcasts or sit at the TV playing a games”, but that also doesn’t mean that I’ll actually feel better about times when I do that, especially on days when I actually do have energy.

One variant of this that I’m considering is figuring out what leisure activities out of the house I would enjoy doing more than I currently do, in ways that would make me feel like my life is richer. Go out to eat more, spend more time hanging out in nature or local museums, stuff like that? That feels worth poking at. (One thing that’s been clear from COVID times: if I’m not taking the train to/from work, then going for at least one but hopefully two walks a days is important for my physical health.)


Anyways, that’s the plan: goof off a decent amount, do noticeable amount of Nei Gong and Tai Chi, maybe read a bit more Japanese than I had been. We’ll see how it goes…

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