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Are you good at waiting?

I had already been waiting a while. The sales assistant, who was clearly under the pump, had an ever-lengthening queue of people gathering, and an unrelenting phone that was ringing incessantly in the background.

Just as I thought my turn had come, another assistant popped over, whispered something in her ear and they both shot off together, with her parting shot of
“I’ll just be a minute!”

How often have you heard that phrase and inwardly groaned?
Because you know it won’t be “just” one minute, it could be five, ten, fifteen or even longer.

Our response of frustration, irritation and grumpiness from being kept waiting is something we’ve all become only too familiar with. We don’t want to wait because it gives us the sense of falling behind, of not completing our important work and it’s exhausting.

It seems crazy that the loss of one minute can make us feel this way. But how often have you found yourself feeling temporarily crazed by the inconvenience of wasted time that isn’t your fault?

Being super-busy, we become blinkered by the perception of our self-importance. Being made to wait means we can’t get our work done, so we feel obstructed in the pursuit of our own agenda.

In the brain, being over busy leads to higher stress levels, which can be pushed to the limit by something as innocuous as being asked to “wait a tick”. Our brain remains hyper-alert for time terrorists and the amygdala becomes super sensitive to even small insurgencies into our working territory. This can then result in our “reaction” which can be over the top, unnecessary and ends up upsetting everyone.

But our brain actually works better if given a regular breathing space.

It provides us the necessary thinking room to pause, reflect and consider. It’s the time we need to really embed that new piece of information we just learned or to come up with an insight on how to solve that tricky problem you’ve been struggling with recently.

Spacing out our focused thinking time has been shown by the science to enhance our productivity and increase the quality of the work we produce in a shorter period of time.

That one-minute pause of thought might save you a heap of time later.

Next time you get asked to “hang on” or “wait a minute” why not celebrate the time it provides for you to still your mind and recalibrate your focus?

How do you fill in that time when asked to wait?
Does it annoy you? Frustrate you? Or could you choose to use that time as a cognitive refresher?

I’d love to hear your thoughts



Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, keynote speaker and best-selling author. You can now pre-order her new book ‘The Natural Advantage’ due for publication in October 2024.

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