I’ve been working part time (three days a week) for most of a year, so I figure that it’s about time for an update.

My top-level take: definitely the right choice. I’m glad I’m not working full time (whether at my current employer or a different employer); but also I’m glad that I’m working a noticeable amount. Part of that is, of course, for financial reasons (or financial reasons coupled with the fact that I don’t really want to think about moving to a cheaper part of the country right now); but that aside, I’m actively glad I’m working.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I would stay working at my current company if I didn’t feel appreciated there, and that appreciation definitely includes pay; but my job is interesting, I feel like I’m still useful there. And I like having human contact at work (and I hope that the amount of human contact will increase as lockdown continues to thaw); I’m an introvert, but even so, staying at home all day got to be a bit much after the first year or so. And I actually even like my commute, because it gets me walking and out in the world more than I otherwise would, and riding the train noticeably increases the number of books I’m finishing.


So, yay for working a few days a week. But also, yay for having a couple more days a week off.

The off days were, honestly, disappointing at the start. I’d thought about how I wanted to spend my time off, and I started executing on that plan; but I just did not have the energy to do that. Basically, I was tired all the time; if I was lucky, I’d be able to get in a two-hour Nei Gong session, plus a bit of Tai Chi, but even that felt like pushing things. So I’d have a day off but I’d only feel like maybe three hours of that day is quality time, whereas the rest of the time I’d be lying around the house feeling sleepy, and mostly just listening to podcasts and doing puzzle games. Nothing wrong with podcasts and puzzle games, but still, not how I wanted to spend my time.

The main problem was dust mites. I’ve got a pretty strong dust allergy, and being at home was making that worse: too many carpets, and also I would respond to being tired by lying down in bed which would in turn exacerbate the allergies. The allergies were less severe on days when I was going into the office (which I started doing as soon as I was vaccinated); so I actually felt better on my days when I was working. And, honestly, there’s a lot of stuff that I do at work that requires a little less active concentration than doing Nei Gong does; sometimes I have to be focused for long stretches at work, but a decent amount of my work involves having meetings and poking at stuff in ways that don’t require the same amount of concentration.

Also, it’s possible that some of what was going on was the beginnings of burnout symptoms? Partly because of that possibility, I tried not to beat myself up; if my body and mind need to recover, then they need to recover. But, whatever the cause, not great, not what I’d hoped for.


It started getting better, though. I honestly can’t remember if I did any further dust allergy remediations on the at-home days that summer, but I have had a list of remediations since then that I’ve been chipping away at. For whatever reason, at any rate, it got to a situation where I didn’t feel as tired in the mornings; I wasn’t necessarily actually getting off my ass and doing stuff for most of the morning, but I was in a shape where I was physically capable of doing more, I was just being lazy.

So, once I realized that, I cut down on the puzzle games and switched to puzzles that didn’t take multiple hours to finish, to increase the frequency with which I had a natural time to switch; and, doing that, I did manage to get a second Nei Gong session (usually more like one hour instead of two hours, but that’s fine) in the morning. (Or rather “morning”: before lunch, but sometimes that meant that lunch was at 2pm.)

Didn’t happen every Wednesday / Friday, but it meant that on good days off, I actually was sticking pretty close to my plan from before: about three hours of Nei Gong a day, about an hour of Tai Chi a day.


Speaking of which: the extra time really is making a difference in both my Nei Gong and my Tai Chi. On the Tai Chi side, it’s pretty straightforward: the number of forms I’m learning is piling up, and I’m continuing to learn new ones, and for that to go well, I need to be able to review them all once a week and, for the ones where I want to actively improve, I need to be able to do them multiple times. Which was not going to happen when I was only practicing outside of class on Sunday afternoons; but now I do have enough time for that.

And, in terms of the Nei Gong, doing two-hour sessions a couple of times a week does seem to make a difference. It’s hard to say confidently what the effects are: I know things are different, but I’m further along in the course, so I would expect things to be different even without the change in routine. But my abdomen does feel buzzy after the long sessions in a way that it doesn’t after shorter sessions; also, it’s good to have more scope to push my physical limits (e.g. doing a moderately physically strenous form of standing meditation for an hour), and it lets me work in more of my the exercises that I’d previously learned.


In addition to the above, I was trying to chip away at something else on most days off. Sometimes that was just getting an allergy shot (which happens every other week); but we also had, and actually continue to have, an abnormal amount of stuff going on in the house. For example, one of the planned dust mite mitigations was to get the carpet ripped out of our bedroom (and hallway and stairs while we were at it); so maybe I’d spend time researching contractors or flooring stores, or I’d drive out to a store, or something. Not a huge amount of work, but if you keep on pushing on stuff like that, it will actually eventually happen.

(It turned out that, unfortunately, replacing the carpets didn’t actually help out a ton with allergies, possibly not at all; we’d been being good about vacuuming, and I guess that had helped enough. But the new floors look really good (and that picture understates it, there’s a ton of light that comes in during the morning, making the floor and room glow), and that makes a big difference: it puts me in a mental space where I’m actively happy to spend time doing Nei Gong in our bedroom, it makes the room into a nourishing space where stuff happens. Also, the new floor makes a nice stable base to stand / sit on too, which helps.)

I also stuck with the plan of reading a bit of Japanese over lunch (or right after lunch) on my days off. That got stuck for a while, but then I realized that sitting down to read Japanese felt like a project, whereas if the goal I set was just to reading two pages a day, then that actually didn’t take very much time, maybe half an hour or even a little less. And if I do that four days a week (I do it on weekends too) then I end up making noticeable progress on the Japanese book I’m currently reading every week.

And there have been some other little routines that have developed. In particular, Widget now gets to go to the park on Wednesdays, instead of just Saturdays and Sundays; that makes him happy, and I like it too.


So I’m getting an amount of stuff done that I’m happy with. There’s still tuning to do: I’m spending maybe 5 hours a day doing stuff that feels productive, and that feels about right, but I’m not that thrilled with what I’m doing during the other hours during the day? Honestly, I wish I were spending more time playing video games: I didn’t want to spend all day playing video games, but I would kind of like to play them a little bit more than I currently do, and that feels like a better use of my time than puzzle games? (Elden Ring might force my hand there, it could literally take me half a year to finish if I play it at my regular rate.)

And we did just get the piano tuned, and presumably Rocksmith+ will get released at some point, so probably playing music will make it back into my life at some point.


Anyways: stuff to tweak, but I’m glad with how things have been going, and the slope is positive as well.

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