Waiting. When is the last time you waited? When you stood still and let time pass.
A time you waited not because you had to wait, but because you chose to.
Being still; being patient for the sake of it.
Patience is great, but why do it?
Instead, you can check your email, browse Facebook, or check Reddit. Much more fun!
You can do that and have your fun, but you’ll be missing out on work.
Missing out on work
It’s surprising, but you don’t want to miss out on work. Hear me out.
You’re spending most of your time in the office. Working a job that I hope you love, but you likely hate.
Love your work?
Great, this will make it even better.
Hate your work?
This is the first step to falling in love with it! After all, why bother hating something that you’re doing for 1/3 of your life?
Whatever your work is, you’re bound to have some downtime. Some time in which you’re waiting for someone or something else to do their job for you to continue.
Maybe you’re waiting for a website to load or your next customer to call. Maybe you need a break from tough physical activity. Maybe you’re waiting for someone else to finish their task and call you for the next step. All the same for the purposes of this article.
What do you do while you’re waiting?
You take out your phone to fill in the time. You do.
Now, think of that. When was the last time you were amazing at work? Everything was going brilliantly well, you were the star, and you felt amazing.
And where was your phone during that time?
I’m willing to bet that you weren’t scrolling Reddit in the middle of your amazing work.
If you want to feel amazing, don’t choose cheap fun over waiting.
Wait to feel amazing
Why choose waiting in place, something tedious, instead of a quick, harmless distraction?
Waiting lets your mind relax without breaking your focus.
Filling the wait with a side activity breaks your focus.
When you do something new your mind needs to build focus from the ground up.
Realistically, it’s even harder than starting from 0 because some of your focus is left with old tasks. You don’t start at zero — you start at -50.
So, your mind needs some time to go back, collect all your focus, and then build your focus anew.
This is called attention residue. I’ve touched on it in the Disconnecting blog post.
Switching from work to Twitter means that you’ll be a bit less focused on your feed. Nothing to cry over.
But, switch from Twitter to work and you’ll be less focused on your work. This is important.
You’ll be doing much better if you were deeply focused on work instead.
The deeper your focus on work, the closer you draw to the flow state.
While in flow you’ll feel amazing. You will do better and make fewer mistakes.
Simply put, when you wait and stand still your mind relaxes and your focus improves.
After you start waiting more and jumping from task to task less, your improved focus will lead you to flow and you will feel amazing.
Next time, you have an urge to distract yourself, choose to wait!
That’s the waiting habit in a nutshell.
Be patient to have time.Tweet
You should not distract yourself while working, but what about breaks?
Let me make this clear — you need breaks.
I want you to change the breaks you impulsively take in the midst of working. The website loading for 30 seconds doesn’t mean you need a break immediately.
So, you need to learn to differentiate between a real break and a distracting “break”. How do you do that? How do you decide when to wait and when to relax?
Take breaks away from your workspace. Physically move to somewhere else.
If you feel too lazy to physically move for your break — you’re probably just distracting yourself to avoid something else. Be as mindful and you will learn to intuitively distinguish between the two in no time.
So, you decide it’s break time and you physically move away from your desk (or wherever you work). What next?
Once you do that, go crazy. Check Twitter, upload 13 images of your “Best Human/Genius” mug to Instagram, or grab a coffee. Don’t worry about work and relax for at least 5 minutes. Maybe even 15 if your work is physically or mentally demanding.
Those deliberate breaks will refresh you and help you avoid burnout.
I usually run a Pomodoro timer and do 50-minute sessions with 10-minute breaks. Try it out and don’t forget to experiment with the work & rest intervals.
What to do when you have to wait
Stillness and waiting — some of it is good and some of it is bad.
Standing still instead of making a critical urgent decision — not great.
Waiting for a few seconds instead of willingly distracting yourself — brilliant.
The waiting habit is all about the latter. The more you do it, the more it will be accompanied by good feelings and satisfaction.
This bit is about the bad kind. The waiting in a traffic jam or while waiting in line at the store.
I’m sure you hate waiting in line as much as I do. I hate feeling my precious unrecoverable time is being wasted.
But I’ve found something that makes it bearable, even pleasant: Not waiting.
I don’t wait in line. I learn instead. Cool right?
While you’re learning time flies by; life is easy and enjoyable. You’re a creature designed to learn.
But, how do you learn while stuck in a traffic jam, you ask? You don’t ask? Well, I’m telling you anyway!
In your car, you learn by listening. Listen to books, podcasts, or talks, learn а new language, or even practice your singing. Your car is your world — own it instead of resenting the slow driver in front of you.
On the bus, you can also use your hands to learn. Read on a Kindle, master the Rubik’s cube (don’t get the original one; it’s bad), learn card flourishes, or even write on your laptop.
Making the choice of filling that time with something useful makes all the difference. It’s your time now. And your time can and will be awesome.
The Waiting Habit
Now, you know what the waiting habit is.
I’m pretty sure, you won’t need reminders to take regular breaks at work but still, be mindful of how you spend your time — it makes all the difference!
Now it’s your turn! Try waiting, enjoy it, and feel awesome at work!
How poor are they that have not patience!William Shakespeare