What’s this? A second post for the month?!
I’m on a roll.
I’m attempting to gather my thoughts because things are still disorganized and cluttered in my mind and life.
But. June is a good time for me to re-group and to take stock of things. I’ve mentioned in my previous post that I have about six months left in the year to do stuff, and that’s what I plan to do. I just need to get myself organized and set up so that I can go ahead and bust through my to-do list.
I’m not making excuses for my lack of planning, but I think my schedule makes it difficult to get an actual workflow and even life flow (is that even a word?). The thing is, I work on a Japanese school-year schedule, which is different from how the world works. In Japan, the school and business year starts in April and runs through until the following March.
For me, this means I am often stopping and starting at different points of the year. What makes it worse is that the busiest time of the year usually happens the first six months of the calendar year. From January to March, I’m usually caught up in end-of-the-year events: reports for my students, parent-observations, graduation, things to help the children get ready for the next level, contract renewals, and of course, endless meetings to “help” us prepare for these things.
Once the year ends and I say goodbye to my current students, I have a three-week break to get ready for the new year. So basically, we start fresh again, and this means new methods and new processes to think about for the year. In addition to that, there are new students coming in that I have to help adjust to the school system. For our very young students, this is sometimes the first time they are separated from their parents—which means anxious students who cry for hours on end. Of course, I am in the classroom with them wanting to do the same, but I hold it in because I’m a professional: I can cry internally while chaos reigns all around me.
All kidding aside, that’s what happens the first three weeks in April. Everyone’s pretty much new, and we’re all adjusting to each other and to new systems and schedules.
Then! In the middle of all this mess, we have Golden Week (April 29 to May 5). This usually means a week of vacation for most people. At my school, we get the full week. Some people only get a few days off, but our school is closed and nobody comes in to teach.
Usually, the students have forgotten all they’ve learned the first three weeks’ worth of knowledge they’ve gained. This is where I really need to buckle down and get the kids really adjusted. From the second week of May until the first week of August, I have the students for months without a break. This is when we all work together to get the flow going. What do the kids have to do for homework? What do I expect them to do in the classroom? What are the rules, the things they’re allowed to do in class and what’s not allowed? This is the most important part of the year, and the bulk of routines get established here.
And of course, that’s just for my school and the things I have to do for work. I also have to worry about financial stuff, mainly my taxes: I have Japanese and US taxes to file. I have to adjust to salary fluctuation because sometimes schedules change. From January to April, I have a steady paycheck. From April to June, I have adjust to a new financial reality (the last couple of years, I’ve had to deal with getting a smaller paycheck.)
Oh, and until March, I will have paid the necessary social insurance premiums and taxes I have to pay the Japanese government. From April to June, I do not have anything to pay…until after my birthday, and I am hit with a ¥500,000 bill. Haha. I wish I can say it’s a joke, but it’s not. That is a combination of my health insurance and my residential taxes. My health insurance gets paid in ten installments from June of the current year until March of the following year. My residential taxes get paid in four installments until the end of the current year, usually by the last day of December. In the past, that usually translates to one payment of more than ¥50,000.
So. Again, I’m not making excuses about my inability to organize my life and my mind. I’m not unique. I’m sure other people have the same things they’re dealing with. I only wish that I could get better. In the past, I’ve done really well in estimating costs and planning out a monthly budget. I was very good on keeping track of the cash that comes in and the money that goes out for bills and expenses.
However, the last three years have been really really chaotic and I’ve let the process slide. The only thing I cared about was having the emergency savings to tide us over if disaster strikes. As long as there was still money saved up in the accounts, I am good.
I think what compounds the problem is that I like the idea of having clear stopping and starting points. I need deadlines and startlines. I usually have no motivation to do things if I know in the back of my mind I still have time to do things. But things like taxes have clear deadlines and I usually get those done.
I need this specific thing to happen first before I do this. A has to be done first before I do B. Example: I want to get my vaccination before school starts. I’ll get a haircut when the year ends so that I have a new hairstyle for the new year. I need to do my Japanese taxes before I can do my US taxes. I need this amount of money saved before I can do this.
But then I dawdle and time goes by and I never do it and I am left to scramble in panic before I can even motivate myself to get up and do it.
Maybe that’s not the best way to go about it? I need to rethink my strategy. It’s worked in the past and so I’m comfortable with it. But since things are changing and are still constantly changing, I need to keep learning how to adapt to new things.