Q:

How do I fill wait time?

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Quick Answer

Filling the waiting time can be done by looking through magazines, reading a newspaper or a book, or using a laptop, tablet or phone to read, play games or work. One can even call someone to fill in the time, as long as the conversation can be cut short when the waiting time is up.

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Full Answer

Glancing at magazines and papers offers exposure to new information. Reading a book allows the reader to enter a focused state, which makes time seem to go faster. This is also true of playing a game or working. As soon as the focus is on the task, be it reading, playing, talking or working, time seems to pass more quickly. According to Richard Larson, an MIT operations researcher, time that is being occupied by a task seems shorter than unoccupied time. The need to have an activity accounts for over $5 billion in annual sales for supermarkets that put products in the vicinity of lines, causing customers to impulse-buy items just to have something to do while they are waiting.

According to Ziv Carmon, a marketing professor at the business school Insead, the last moments of a waiting time can strongly influence the way one looks back on it. Having a positive experience at the very end of a wait makes the memory of the entire ordeal a good one, even if the majority of it was negative. Each year, Americans spend approximately 37 billion hours waiting in line.

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