On the average day, I spend about an hour and a half to two hours simply on the go, – moving from place to place on campus. Since I use a motorized wheelchair to get around, I give myself about 12-15 minutes to get from one destination to another. I mean, campus is huge. According to my best friend (who’s a tour guide here), 96 Disneylands can fit on Stanford’s property. Despite the enormity of our campus, I assume 15 minutes is slightly more time than a biker may take to move from one place to another, or perhaps slightly less time than a walker takes. With this 15 minutes as a gauge, however, it is true that around two hours of my day are snagged – just moving from one place to another.
One day of the week, I go from my dorm on east campus to a class in Main Quad, and back to my dorm for an hour break before a meeting back on Main Quad. Then, I move to a class in Encina Hall, followed by another class back on Main Quad. After classes, I head back to my dorm to do some homework, meet a friend for a meal at a dining hall, then visit Old Union for a club meeting before settling down once and for all in my dorm room – until the next day when I go through a similar schedule all over again. I just described my Wednesdays, and in that case, that means I spent two hours and 15 minutes on the go.
Now, there’s a lot you can do in two hours and 15 minutes. You could knock out a huge chunk of a problem set, you could catch up with several friends, you could watch a long movie, you could read a short book (or maybe a long one, if you read fast) or you could take four power naps. The possibilities are endless. At first, when I realized this, I was shocked and outraged. What a waste of time! If I’d gone to a school that had a smaller campus, would I have gained two hours every day?
However, upon re-examining the situation, I thought: Yes, there’s a lot you can do in two hours, but there’s a lot you can do in the two hours that you’re on the go, too. Here at Stanford, the culture is to go, go, go – as I exemplified in my daily schedule above. Stanford tells you: Be productive so that you can get ahead, or even just keep up, so that you can succeed in the future. Two hours, or eight 15-minute intervals throughout the day, when you’re transporting yourself from one place to another is a great time to relax, debrief with yourself and enjoy the scenery of the beautiful campus around you.
Perhaps you could use the time on the go to examine the nature around you, or perhaps you could use the time to pray or meditate. Perhaps you could use the time moving from one place to the other to reflect on what happened at your previous location, or how you want to spend your time at the next location. Perhaps you could spend the time thinking about things you’re thankful for, or smiling and waving hi to friendly faces, or even strangers on campus. Or perhaps, you could use that time to think about absolutely nothing (besides, “Oh, I better not crash with that bike”). We’re always thinking – and sometimes, you need that time to think about absolutely nothing.
In this manner, I’ve discovered that there are numerous ways you can spend your time being productive in different ways, even while on the go. And I can’t wait to test it out on my way to my next meeting after submitting this article.
Contact Angie Lee at angielee ‘at’ stanford.edu.