We live in a world of “hurry up and wait.” It happens when we show up for the medical appointment on time, only to realize the doctor is running an hour behind. It happens when we arrive at the airport with plenty of time to navigate security, and find out the flight has been delayed. It happens when we are running behind but drop by a store to pick up a couple of quick items, only to find the checkout line a mile long.

“Wait time” is a real force in our lives. Add it all together, and it amounts to a huge time sink which can turn a good day sour. On the other hand, wait time provides pockets of unexpected discretionary time. How we use it is determined by how we prepare for it.

Many times, I have written articles while waiting for something: waiting for an event to start, waiting for the plane to board, or waiting for someone I am meeting to arrive. What could have been wasted time was instead turned into productive time. How can you capitalize on these potentially wasted windows of time?

Reading Material at Hand

I stockpile reading material. When magazines arrive at my house, they are almost never read the same day. They go in a wooden letter tray beside my desk. I maintain a list of books I want to borrow from the public library and usually have one or two checked out at all times.

Before I leave my house, if there is any chance I will have wait time, I grab a book or several magazines. The spare minutes are plugged with reading I wanted to do anyway. While I am sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, I am not searching for magazines laying on the nearest table. I am reading my own pre-chosen material. People ask me, “How do you stay on top of all of the reading material?” Now you have my answer.

The same strategy holds true for online reading. I subscribe to quite a few blogs whose subject matter spans many topics. With access to that material on my mobile devices, reading material is always at hand. Whether I am standing in the checkout line or waiting for a train to pass, time is never wasted.

Build the List 

While reading material is great for filling the gaps, it is by no means the only option. As subjects for future blog posts come to mind, they are trapped on a list. When I have wait time, I can choose a topic from the list and compose a new blog post or newspaper article. What you are reading now is a good example. My smartphone’s task list holds URLs for websites I want to examine in further detail. In fact, everything I have to do, no matter how large or small, regardless of how urgent or how far in the future, is trapped on that list.

For almost 15 years, I have used a digital to-do list. Every item on the list gets a due date, and I sort the list by due date. Whatever is overdue is at the top; whatever is scheduled for far in the future is at the bottom. Simply changing the due date on an item allows it to be moved up or down the list. I never have to rewrite a list. Searching for a word produces every item containing that word. If I search for the word “blog,”

When waiting time presents itself, I can quickly find those things I wanted to do anyway and could be doing right then. I turn potentially wasted time into productive time.

What’s the Secret of Patience?

When you are bored, the hands of the clock stand still. When you are engaged in something of interest, time flies. The secret of patience is having something else to do while you wait. We all complain about how many things we have to do and how short our time is. Just have a few well-chosen tasks with you. Fill the time with things you were going to do anyway, things that will move your goals forward, and things that bring enjoyment.

How do you handle wait time? Leave a comment and let me know. Below this post you will find social sharing icons. If you enjoyed the post, share it with someone else through social media.