Apr 6, 2014

Ultimate List of Things To Do While Waiting

The average person spends 45-62 minutes a day waiting.  For the person who lives to be 70, that's 3 to 5 years of life WAITING.  Waiting for trains, appointments, traffic. Waiting for gas tanks to fill, commercials to end and coffee to brew. Even Barney Stinson from "How I Met Your Mother" wants you to wait before you hear a word in it's entirety.

That's a lot of waiting.

In the age of instant gratification, people dislike waiting more than ever.  Disney knows the psychology of waiting so well, that it purposely posts overestimated wait time for rides. This is so that guests will be pleasantly surprised that the lines moved faster than they expected.  Why do Internet companies continually bombard you with their newly improved speed? Because customers hate to wait.  We hate waiting so much that we'd rather read the uninteresting information on a cereal box than enjoy a few quiet moments while eating breakfast.

I don't have 'wait rage' ( if there is such a thing.) But those few moments waiting for my turn in the grocery queue feel like an eternity. It's as though real life has somehow removed itself from me, while it's out there, pulsing with possibility. I however, remain cemented and stagnant in '15 Items or Less.' The check out aisle is the perfect metaphor for stasis . . . . weeks of my life I will never ever get back. 

What's a wait-hater to do? This is one of the few areas in life where multi-tasking is good. Having something productive to do is the best way to stave off that cloying feeling that Time is marching on, and pointing to itself . . . .  like it's a watch on a wrist.

So while at the laundromat waiting for a quilt to dry,  I have composed . . . wait for it . . . . The Ultimate List of Things to Do While Waiting.

General Waiting:
  • Memorize something you think you should know. Maybe: prime numbers past 47, the Gettysburg address, Q words for Scrabble, your spouses SS# . . things that wont really make a big difference in life, except to make you feel ever so slightly smug.
  • Eat an energizing snack, so that when you're done waiting, you can hit the ground running.
  • Increase your vocabulary  
  • Read a magazine or a book for fun.  Readers and smart phones make it super easy to carry around reading material.
  • Increase your business acumen: catch up on trade mags, blogs, books, etc.
  • Doodle. You can even doodle with friends for free http://omgpop.com/drawsomething  (look at the bottom of the web page)
  • Strengthen muscle groups with isometrics such as glute and stomach squeezes, Kegels and more.
  • Have a conversation.  (Oh no - did I just suggest engaging someone sans technology?)
    "This is a crazy long line" is a socially acceptable conversation opener.    
  • Give your neck and shoulders a mini massage.  
  • Meditate.  You don't have to reach Nirvana. Just pick a focal point and count backwards from 10.
  • People watch (without being creepy.)  Assign them secret identities!
  • Consult your To Do list to make sure you're on track for the day. 
  • Do one thing to solidify your plans for the week/weekend.
  • Review your work or study notes. Retention percentages increase within the first 24 hours of learning something the more times you review it. http://www.byui.edu/get-more/tip-3
  • Pray. 
  • Clean out your jacket pockets, wallet, purse, backpack or briefcase.  
  • Hydrate with a non-sugary, non-caffeinated beverage (translation: water.)  75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration.
  • Moisturize your lips, hands and even elbows and knees if appropriate.
  • Stretch.  Cats and dogs do it many times a day.  There must be something to that. 
  • Make or confirm an appointment. 
  • Relax and relish in the moment.  Nothing is required of you.  No one is calling your name.  Your thoughts are your own. You are in your own quiet world. 
  • Play a game, but turn off the volume.  Even people who are addicted to Candy Crush don't want to listen to you playing it.
  • Breathe.  That's right - fill those lungs! This is what oxygen feels like!
  • Daydream. You weren't allowed to daydream in school, and you could get fired for it at work.  But nobody owns your time or your gray matter while you're waiting at the doctor's office.  "Dream on, dream on, dream until your dreams come true."
  • If you're with someone, work on your listening skills .http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230722  (P.S. If you're scripting a response while they are still talking, perhaps there's more work to be done.)
  • Focus on one of the three most important priorities in your life (family, work, health, relationship, etc.) and think about one thing you can do to enhance that area.   
  • Play games with your kids. http://www.grandparents.com/grandkids/activities-games-and-crafts/12-games-to-play-while-you-wait

At the pump: 
  • Clean your windshield
  • Check the tire pressure
  • Empty the garbage container 
  • Organize the trunk, back seat or glove compartment
  • Search for petrified french fries and lost chocolate candies with a crunchy shell
  • Keep a small stiff brush in your console and whisk out the crumbs your vacuum can never get to. Who DOES that? well, um . . . *sheepish grin*
  • Wipe off your dashboard with the wipes you keep in the car for this purpose, but never use. (If they are dehydrated, add a little water.)
  • Clip your nails, put on lotion, apply Chapstick
  • Purchase a beverage or newspaper, get cash from the ATM, say hi to the clerk(s). It's a lonely job they have.
  • Watch the pump numbers escalate towards infinity. Vow to ride a bike or use public transportation more often.
  • Clear your head.  Take these few moments for yourself to think, or not think.  This might be the only time you are free to do so.
At the Laundro-Mat, Doctor's Office, mechanic, etc.
  • Study
  • Read a book from home, or an outdated, germ-filled magazine supplied in the waiting room.
  • Catch up on emails, social networking
  • Close your eyes.  A catnap might do you some good.
  • If you're in a place where quiet is the norm or people are working, take your calls outside. You can cross off some calls while being respectful at the same time.
Long commutes or travel:
  • Learn a language. Parlez-vous Francais? Sprechen sie Deutsch? nǐ huìbúhuì jiǎng guóyŭ/huáyŭ/pŭtōnghuà?
  • Rock out with some tunes. Bring your favorite CDs or get a music player converter to hook up an MP3 player or iPod. 
  • Spend some time listening to news radio and learn about what's going on in the world.
  • Take a quick nap. Just kidding! If you're not driving though, this is a seriously good idea.
  • No place like the road the improve your road savvy and driver's etiquette.  Most people are NOT excellent drivers. In your state do you have to pause for a stopped school bus in oncoming traffic on a four lane divided highway?  Wouldn't it be marvelous if everyone knew? http://www.dmv.org/manuals.php 
  • Call your mother.  Call your father.  Return just about any phone call you can think of, as long as you can do it safely, and according to your state's laws. http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/cellular-phone-use-and-texting-while-driving-laws.aspx
  • Books on CD are great way to sneak some reading in. Libraries lend them out for free and there online sources that let you download them.
  • Borrow CDs of past seminars from a professional organization you belong to.  It's a great way to sneak in some industry know how to advance your career!
At the grocery or a convenience store: 
  • Organize your purchases into loose categories: freezer, produce, pantry, upstairs, downstairs, etc. so that they get bagged the way you want them. When you get home you (and the kids) can quickly put everything away. 
  • Get coupons in order
At the computer (especially at home): 
  • Update your play list. Find a new artist/song. A great song can motivate you all day.
  • Organize your music by category. Or if you have a lot of crossover music, start an alphabetical system by artist or band name. Some organize their music by mood (Energizing, Relaxing, etc.) or by activity (Work out, Study, Dinner, Party, etc.)
  • Play a quick game or fill in a few more clues to the NYTimes Crossword.
  • Take a survey.  Some companies even pay you for taking them (Swagbucks.com)
  • Enter a sweepstakes.  Dream a few moments about what it would be like to win that 100k vacation to Morocco.
  • File a few papers.  Clean out old papers in your folders as you go. 
  • Wipe down your desktop/monitor/keypad. 
  • Love on your pets. Love on your kids.
  • Pay a bill online, or set it up online if you haven't already.
  • Organize one desk drawer
  • Clean up desktop icons
  • Straighten your posture.  Obviously it's better for your spine, but it staves off heartburn too!
  • Delete a program or cookie that has been bothering you
  • Take a moment to look at your browsing history.  How did you spend/waste your time?  Then clear your history.  
  • Organize a few of your kazillion pictures.  Some do it chronologically.  Some do it by event: Sports, Graduation,  Anniversaries, Holidays, Vacations, etc.
  • Empty your office trash
  • Step away from the computer - you could use a mental break!
  • Fill out paperwork you've been putting off
  • Return an email, text message, or a phone call
  • Get sucked into social media
  • Do one thing to improve your grooming: trim eyebrows, nails, toenails, nose, ears, brush your teeth, floss, etc.   Oh yeah - you're dapper now!
  • Research.  What was that Jeopardy question you got totally wrong, and still cant remember the answer? 
  • Order a product you've been meaning to buy.  Amazon really is "the everything store."
  • Delete old emails if you don't do it everyday.  
In the kitchen while coffee brews, the sink fills up, kids finish breakfast, etc.:
  • If you are cooking, clean as you go.  There will be less to do later when you are less motivated.
  • Empty the trash
  • Wipe off one shelf in the refrigerator
  • Get the mail/newspaper
  • Stare at a wall.  There are no lucid thoughts until coffee anyway.
  • Update the family calendar/command center
  • Go through mail over the trash can
  • Empty/load the dishwasher
  • Load up the car for the day
  • Feed the pets. Pet the pets.
  • Have a mantra, affirmation, or thought for the day? Some say it projects how the day will turn out.
  • Wash a load of laundry in a.m. At the end of the day you can dry, fold and put away.
 The Zen of Waiting is illusive -  an Agony in Process. But let's give it chance! It just might be the most productive time of our lives.