The Time

Time stretches endlessly when you’re in confinement, and unlike say prisoners, there is no fixed schedule for anything. Unless you count our pavlovian response when we hear the rustling on the corridor that signals the twice daily temperature checks or the thrice daily deposit of our plastic containers with the rations for the meals.

Work hasn’t (officially) started yet, but I do have a ton of things I need to do in preparation and a couple of meetings last week, so that leaves a lot of unstructured time. Our Shanghai quarantine WeChat was pretty busy last night with bored people and funny quips, so social media does that a chunk of that time. Just like last year when we were in lock-down and doing online learning that whole question of synchronous / structured vs. asynchronous / unstructured comes into play. Over the last 18 months I’ve decided I’m definitely in the asynchronous camp.

I dislike agendas with times and generally plan my time using the bullet journal style (if you’ve never heard of it, watching this 4 minute video is time well spent) using a filofax so that I can add and remove pages. I start each day writing out my actual commitments that are at definite times and then I just make a list of what I’d like to accomplish, and open all the necessary tabs on my computer and work through and close tabs as I’m done.

Having no commuting time, no set times for waking and sleeping mean that I’m pretty much free do do whatever whenever however and I save about 2 hours a day that’s wasted usually.

Yesterday I experimented with multi-tasking – I had a great book that I needed to finish before it expired (Wish Lanterns – it’s really a great look at modern China through the lives of six young people born in the 80’s) and I needed to get in my 5000 steps minimum, and my neighbour was having a shouting match on the phone with someone. So I paced up and down reading my book on my phone while listening to the gorgeous Symphony # 8 of Dvorak. With some push-ups and squats thrown in every 1000 steps. It takes a LONG time to get in so many steps when your room is 8 paces from door to window.

That symphony is a particular favourite of mine, having played it when I was still an active cello player in the Hong Kong Medical Association orchestra, heavily pregnant with my first child, who now has my cello and plays better than I could ever dream of having played. We’re now officially empty nesters, with the next one off to art college – the reason that we ventured out of China this summer.

For my temptation bundling I decided to bundle two temptations and continued my crochet blanket – nearly done the first 22 colours and getting ready to start the colours again, while watching Netflix – I’m a sucker for medical shows – last quarantine was Offspring (my all time favourite) and this summer / quarantine has been New Amsterdam and The Good Doctor. Interspersed with The Blacklist – BUT my downloads have run out and Netflix doesn’t play nice with streaming. Suggestions for shows welcome.

I had a couple of nice long chats with friends and family and did the work I needed getting done. I also spent a bit of time on the Sisyphusian task of learning Chinese. I’m quite enjoying the self-paced online course I’m doing with GoEast, Yesterday I was trying to sort out my password mess of becoming more secure even on the obscure sites I’m signed up to, many of which I can’t even remember what the heck they’re about. I came across WordSwing again and spent a pleasurable hour or so reading a “solve it yourself” mystery – Murder in the Tea Room (谁杀了李市长?). It was a nice break from the usual studying but knowing myself and the time pressures once normal life resumes I resisted subscribing to it.

I love getting comments from people – Thank you so much to Sabina who suggested some work-out videos – I had a look at them yesterday and even passed them on to a colleague who is currently recovering from foot surgery (yup it’s been quite a year for accidents – I’m not the only one!) I’m going to be trying them out today as I don’t have any books that need urgent reading!

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