We ‘squander’ two years of our lives just waiting

March 23, 2018

Life is what happens while you are waiting: If you count all the seconds and minutes you spend waiting for elevators, trains, water to boil, a conference call to begin, a maitre d’ to acknowledge your presence, a doctor to see you, or a security guard to check your luggage, you would notice that your life is passing by in small increments.

In fact, according to a recent poll of 2,000 British adults conducted by Malta-based online casino operator Casumo and released on March 22, the average person spends the equivalent of 42 minutes a day—or two years in total—just “killing time.”

Specifically, Casumo found, standing in line at the supermarket and sitting in traffic leave us doing nothing for almost five hours a week—the equivalent of nearly 11 days annually.

In a typical week, we will waste 12 minutes waiting for a kettle to boil, and eight minutes standing by the microwave as our food cooks. We also will spend eight minutes watching the buffering symbol on a streaming service for shows to load up.

Respondents said they thought they could use their time more effectively— if they could be bothered.

Greg Tatton-Brown, a manager at Casumo.com, commented, “We all like to think we are living the most productive and proactive lives we can, but downtime is often an inevitability even in the busiest of schedules.

“When you have time to yourself, it’s worth trying to change how you feel about this perceived downtime and turn those fleeting moments into an opportunity, whether you use it for self-reflection, catching up on social media, or just to seek entertainment and play your favorite mobile game.”

The study also found that, when Brits have a chunk of time to kill, 45% daydream, while 33% tap out a tweet or a social media update.

Forty eight per cent blame their short attention spans for their abundance of downtime, which stops them from getting on with something more constructive.

What would they do if they could get all of the time they spend waiting back? Fully 25% of Brits would like to use the time to learn a new language. Another 27% would channel their efforts into picking up a new instrument, and 13% would make a start on the novel that they have always wanted to write.

What’s more, 15% say they could have chiselled away at their dream body at the gym in all of the time they have wasted, and 6% think they could have mastered a martial art.

But time spent watching minutes pass on the clock is rarely wasted:

  • 42% of respondents believe that having downtime has allowed them to” think deeply” on an issue that is affecting their lives in order find a solution.
  • 22% percent have thought of “the perfect words to express how they feel” while clock-watching, and
  • 17% have stumbled across a life-changing idea after letting their mind drift unguided for a few minutes.

Despite the perception that time killed is time wasted, 45% of Brits said they enjoy the knowing that they always will have a few moments of time to burn coming up in their hectic lives.

Finally, despite regularly finding themselves killing time waiting for other people to arrive, 68% of respondents describe themselves as “most likely to be early for appointments and social events so as not to keep others waiting around.”And only 6% confess to being the kind of person who is regularly late.

Research contact: @GregTattonBrown

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