How to Use Your ‘Dead Time’

positivity, smile

The waiting room

I want to share with you my experience of one morning and how I dealt with it compared with how I treated the same situation a couple of years ago.

All of us have experienced a situation where all you can do is simply wait. Be it a bus journey, a wait at the airport or sitting in a waiting room.

That morning, I went to see a consultant and spent two hours in the waiting room despite arriving in good time for appointment. After arriving, I have checked in and joined the unavoidable queue of people who gathered there since the early hours of the day.

So as I have arrived to a full waiting room, I knew I was in for a long wait. I hoped that it will be not more than an hour but I had plenty of time before picking my son up from school anyway. One or two of the other patients were getting a little impatient, nervously looking at their watches, tutting and sighing with annoyance. The receptionist had to explain several times to some patients that some patients take much longer than expected and that was why everything was well behind schedule.  


Use your waiting time to do something for yourself

However, this post is not about how other people are behaving, no-one can know what’s going on with them and it’s not my place to judge them. The point of it is that I chose to make a positive experience of this ‘dead time’ that I had. I could have cursed the situation and get angry that I waste my time, but instead I have made the best out of it. Here’s what I achieved:

  • Exchanged smiles with other patients

It didn’t just make me happier, but also improved the mood of other people. With a more positive atmosphere, it is more pleasant to wait.

  • Read the newspaper

I found out about the latest political and financial news, checked the weather for upcoming days and read interesting articles on personal development

  • Caught up on a couple of emails

During a time where you can’t be at work, it is useful to check and send some emails. This activity takes time at work and when you get it done before (for example, during your commute to work), you can be more productive when you start your workday

  • Did some research on some of the best content on the web

  • Completed a level of Candy Crush (guilty pleasure)

Using this time to do things we enjoy is a great way to avoid being annoyed or pessimistic about the situation.

The effects

One hour turned to two, and finally my name was called to see the doctor.

She profusely apologised for the delay. I replied that I understood she was having a busy day and that I’d used the time well and there was no problem.  I had my check up and was on my way fifteen minutes later.

So what’s the lesson here?

It’s about using your time to the best of your ability. Nowadays, technology allows us to do just about anything that you could do at home or in the office. However, with this situations are unavoidable and instead of stressing or being angry, we can do something productive.

positive attitude, optimism

Maintain positive attitude

The main thing I took was my frame of mind, which made the experience a pleasant one rather than a bad one. In times gone by, I’d have been steaming inside about the time wasting, my internal dialogue telling me how useless the systems and processes are.

As I mentioned, I’ve had experienced this before, in that same waiting room, and I’ve been annoyed and frustrated. That morning, in turn, I chose to make the best of it, and truly believed it. Then none of the negative thoughts clouded my mind at the time. Another good things is that as well as my own good experience, I think that my doctor appreciated my frame of mind as well.  I suspect that probably she had a series of grumpy patients both before and after my visit, but at least I had not given her a hard time and hopefully made her day that bit more bearable.

The reality is that life’s full of tough situations, it always will be.  We can’t control that.  But we can control whether we turn it into a good experience for ourselves and those around us. That’s why it’s important to be optimistic at whatever comes to us and see these stressful or annoying situations as a ‘patience test’ and use them to your advantage.

Do you try to have positive attitude all the time? Let me know in the comments!

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Neil Gabbie (4 reviews ) Business Coach, Executive Coach, Career Coach, Love & Relationships Coach

I'm a qualified personal coach, working with people from many backgrounds, and I specialise in helping busy men and women regain control of their lives and find that elusive work-life balance by unlocking the positive en... Read more