After 2 surgeries, a broken foot, 30 radiation treatments, and follow-up appointments for each of them, I have been doing a lot of waiting lately. Multiple studies cite that the average person waits a total of 7-10 years in their life time, and that’s assuming we only live until seventy!
At first I got frustrated when the doctors were running late (a 15 minute radiation appointment could take 2 hours). I am a naturally impatient person, and it felt like I was spending more time in waiting rooms than anywhere else.
While waiting one day, I stopped and paid attention. I watched other radiation and chemo patients in the waiting room, most in worse shape than I was. Some literally only had weeks or months to live, yet most were kind, gracious, and patient.
If we spend a decade of our life doing nothing but waiting, there have got to be ways to use that time more productively.
Here are a few of things I did that made the time go by faster (and helped me be more productive in the process.)
1. Breathe. Correctly. Every time I would feel myself getting impatient, I would pay attention to my breathing, and I was usually taking very shallow breaths. Take a deep breath in for about three seconds, hold it for three seconds, and exhale for three seconds. Your belly should move more than your chest if you are breathing correctly.
2. Think about the things you are grateful for, and there are SO many things for which to be grateful. Even while half of my face was paralyzed, I was recovering from eye surgery, with a broken foot, and awful radiation side effects, there were dozens and dozens of things to be grateful for. I made a list every time I was waiting.
3. Plan your week. I planned appointments, my schedule, meals, kid’s stuff, etc., and I found that it helped me be way more productive when I actually had time to focus on those things.
4. Think. I had lots and lots of time to think. I thought about my new book, my business, my family, friends, the new dog I wanted to adopt, and anything else that wandered into my mind. It was nice to not “do” anything and just take time to think.
5. Mindless video games and magazines. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t play my share of Candy Crush or read gossip magazines. Rather than feel guilty about “wasting time”, I let myself enjoy those things.
There are literally dozens of other things to keep you occupied while waiting, whether in traffic, at an appointment, at the grocery store, and everywhere else in between. We’re often in so much of a hurry to get to our destination that we often fail to enjoy the journey. It’s time to slow down and find the joy in the little things…even waiting.