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  • Henry Gao

The Facade of Spare Time

Updated: Jan 27

Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, life has been different. All of our lives have.


During this tumultuous time, some college students spent their days as if they were on an extended vacation, while others were left bored out of their minds, not knowing what or how they should do to pass the time. Other than the fears of the looming pandemic, life was bliss for the first few days of quarantine—even for myself. For once in my life, my academic and professional responsibilities seemed to be put on hold at a time when they weren’t supposed to, with those responsibilities being resumed at a “later”, arbitrary time in the future.


This mentality, however, led to many of my peers to lose their motivation and drive, mostly in an academic and professional sense.


There seems to be this dangerous mentality (of which we are all guilty) in our lives that there is always a “later” time to do things. Even our most pressing responsibilities, both professional and personal, will sometimes be pushed back to a later date. Two main problems arise when this occurs: for one, responsibilities will eventually pile up if there is no set date by which those responsibilities need to be accomplished, and two, quite rarely do those responsibilities get accomplished at all.


“If only I had more time” is a saying that, while it may be reasonable to use during school, is so readily available as an excuse to be used, even on the most basic tasks and responsibilities in your daily life.


Think of all the times you told yourself you’d read a book. Did you end that week having read more pages than you did at the start of the week?


Think of all the times you said you’d do the dishes or laundry. How long did it take you to take action? Hours? Days?


Think of all the times you told yourself you needed more time, and when time was granted to you, that time was spent doing some external matter unrelated to your responsibilities. This is the facade of spare time — procrastinating to the point where your priorities are mixed up, and worse, when none of them get accomplished at all.


Think about how this may apply to you and your life, as well as the responsibilities and promises you still have yet to fulfill. In reality, there is no “perfect time” to start your book, do the dishes, or found a company. The longer you wait, the more unfulfilled tasks you have to juggle in your life, cluttering your mind with unnecessary and distracting information. Career related responsibilities such as networking with professionals, applying to jobs, or joining a student organization are all things that one can choose to push back to the next week, as if your future self is guaranteed to be more responsible than your current self. To get started, schedule that first coffee chat, submit that job application, and get involved to whatever extent you can in the current moment. Once that first step is accomplished, all subsequent steps will find its place in your life as long as you make time for them.


Don’t fall victim to the facade of spare time.


List out your tasks, write out a plan to execute those tasks, and take action.


Don’t wait for later, because later is forever, and forever is never.

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