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We live in a high-speed era and as we get used to ever-shortening response times having to wait for something even for a few seconds can seem like an age.

We see it in all sorts of situations, from our own dissatisfaction with last year’s computer, to call centre response times, and, so they say, in the way our children’s minds are developing.

I don’t know if it’s good or bad that things are speeding up, but it doesn’t follow that we have to speed up too, and we should be able to give ourselves choices about how much we are shaped by the process. One of the downsides of things going faster is that our perceptions are distorted, and this affects how we live our lives. You can’t put your heart into something if you feel that you never have time.

As an antidote, why not set yourself tasks to promote patience in yourself. For example, if it takes two minutes for your computer to come to life each day, design yourself a programme of things you can do in two minutes. You could, for example, do a brief mindfulness exercise, or jot down the opening lines of the novel you plan to write some day.

The idea here is to create a slot that you actually look forward to. You’ll know it’s working when you start to get irritated that the two minute ‘delay’ is over.

Another way to foster patience is to deliberately take the longer or slower route (using the stairs instead of the lift, walking  instead of driving, cooking proper food… you get the idea?).

The trick is learning to like things that hold us up because we value them, not seeing them as inconvenient time-wasters.

See also

Barry Winbolt: LifeHack – 6 Things to do in a Queue

Carl Honoré: In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed.


Two minutes a day adds up to more than 12 hours a year.

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