The battle for a more productive use of my free time

Posted on 09.08.2014


I think the topic has come up in numerous earlier posts, but at the moment, I’m having a bit of an internal battle/argument with myself over how to most effectively use my free time.

By ‘free time’, I mean the few hours I happen to end up with in the mornings when I wake up before my boyfriend, AND the time I spend commuting to work. After that, I’ve got some free time AT work that I need to manage, as well.

More than anything, I’m majorly annoyed at myself for:
a – not having learned Japanese yet
b – not doing fitness-related things

One of these, the fitness issue, has been more due to the MS and lack of ability to balance myself than anything resembling laziness. That being said, I can now walk down stairs in a mostly confident manner (although I still need the banister), so it’s time to get back to doing SOMETHING.

The Japanese-language issue has been due to a lack of time and also motivation, as I’m feeling slightly intimidated by the language, even though I know that learning the language will absolutely make my life SO much easier.

In the morning, I have a few hours of awake time before I have to go to work. I usually wake up about an hour or 30 minutes before my boyfriend does. At the moment, I spend that time laying in bed, reading the news, waiting for him to get up. Once he’s up, I prefer to give him my attention, since we work apart and won’t see each other again until the evening.

I have a collection of yoga videos saved on youtube, and I really should be using the 30-45  minutes before he wakes up to try to do something. What’s been holding me back lately has been the heat: in the US, houses have central air, and so every room is comfortable, all the time. In Japan, each room has its own ac unit that you turn on and off as needed. So when I wake up, I turn the air on. The house is generally ALREADY 88 degrees when we wake up, and it’s pretty stifling. So to do yoga in the spare bedroom, I’d need to turn the air on first. Not a huge issue, just a small hurdle.

It’s a constant struggle in the mornings to get out of bed. My earlier schedule used to require me to get up at 5am, to leave the house by 6. I really love the time my boyfriend and I get to spend together in the morning, since we can be lazy, wake up without an alarm, and take our time getting ready for work. I really enjoy BEING there when he wakes up, and I think that’s the thing that’s keeping me from getting up and doing yoga in the mornings. I really enjoy lying around with nothing to do. I’m going to have to try to be proactive, though, and get out of bed maybe every other day. It’ll all be an experiment, to see if I can even do it.

I really want to do SOMETHING, as there’s no way I can feasibly train budo at the moment. I can’t even travel to the dojo without dying on my feet due to the heat, so it’s out of the question until it cools down. But since I could barely even train when I was at the seminar in April, starting slowly with yoga in the mornings might be the best (and most logical) course of action. Now that my walking is getting back to normal, I can try to take the figurative next step.


logo-spotifyMy commute time to the office is 45 minutes, door to door. I walk to the station, get on the train, change trains, take a second train to my office, and then walk to my office. In this amount of time, I could:
~ read the news (when I stop walking)
~ listen to new music, or music in general. I LOVE SPOTIFY and will pay for it to have it available!
~ listen to an audiobook
~ listen to podcasts

Usually, as I said earlier, I try to read the news IN BED, or save it for downtime at the office, so I can then listen to either music or audiobooks. This works well, except for when there are things I want to listen to in each category. They literally have to fight it out in my mind to be chosen, complete with lists of pros and cons (pros for music: I might find something I like, pros for audiobooks: I will finish the book faster).

My schedule at the office has opened up a bit, and now I have some downtime between lessons as well. While I’d prefer to spend this time talking and bonding with my coworkers, we don’t always have the same times off, or time to actually talk to each other. I want to better utilize this time, even though sometimes, I don’t have much. It comes in 45-minute bursts, which, if it’s just ONE block, is enough time to plan lessons, read the news or get some food. But if I have 2 or more of these blocks (which tends to happen in the time between lunch and ‘after work hours’),  I could (should) try to use that time to my advantage. At the moment, I’m writing a blog 🙂 But normally, what can I do?

UnknownMy options are:
~ write blogs
~ listen to audio books (or actually read books, since I have some of them, too)
~ learn Japanese, using a book or website

I try to save blogging for when I’m on my own, and I generally set them up with photos at home (I can’t load photos on the work computer) and then write at work. But I don’t have THAT much to say, to make this my #1 choice.

Listening to audiobooks is great, but at the rate of open block lessons I have, it might get expensive. I’ve got enough books, kindle books and audiobooks to hold me over for a good while, and although I WANT to beat the number of books I read last year, it doesn’t feel AS productive as learning Japanese.

I need books to learn Japanese, and I’ve come to the conclusion while writing this blog that I need to just carry the ones I plan to use to my office, and leave them there. They’ll look good on my shelf for when students walk in, right? So if I bring the books in and leave them in my cube, they’ll get a lot more action than they’re currently getting, living on my book shelf. Also, I’ll feel like I’m being productive.

So according to everything I’ve just written, I need to:

~ get my ass out of bed every other morning to try yoga
~ listen to music or audiobooks on my commute
~ bring my Japanese books TO my office, and study them there in the down time.

Getting the books into the office will definitely make me want to come in, even if I have no bookings for a few hours, to study Japanese. The way it works in my school is that if you have unbooked lessons, you can close them and maybe come in later. While I like that idea, I also like the idea of sitting in the free AC at my office, as opposed to paying an electric bill to use the AC at my house for an extra hour. It also puts me in the office and gives me more opportunity to talk to my coworkers, and leave myself open for red and black bookings, in which the student can’t choose a teacher, and just gets whoever is around. I can clean up on these and study Japanese if I don’t.

Thanks for reading my ‘thinking out loud’ rant. It  helped me make some decisions about what needs to be done.


Posted in: fitness, Japan, language, life