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How to make waiting go faster

We spend our lives waiting for something: the weekend, a kettle to boil, an awkward silence to diffuse. Usually it’s just a few moments, but then there’s the bus that never arrives, the lift that gets stuck and the queue for the bathroom. We’re still to perfect the time machine, but there are some ways you can make waiting hurry up.

Make a queue go faster

There are a few things you can try. 1. Spray yourself with lavender as you join the queue: the smell is supposed to make the whole experience feel less annoying. 2. Get people to shift around so the line resembles a snake: serpentine queues are said to feel fairer. And 3. Make sure lots of people join the queue behind you: that way you’ll be less likely to abandon it. A more practical tip? Bring a good book.

Speed up the internet

Presented with the loading animation on the left, Facebook users blamed the wait on Facebook. But when shown the standard clock on the right they blamed their phone for the delay. The wait was just as long but people felt happier thinking the service wasn’t at fault. Maybe that spinning disc could be adopted offline by train companies.

A wait off your mind

You needn’t wait for a bus anymore. Countdown apps and displays, like this one adopted in Seattle WA, mean passengers can find out exactly when their bus is coming. Waits have been shown to feel longer when we can’t see the end in sight, so accurate countdowns stop the wait from feeling any longer than is actually is. But if your bus then gets stuck in traffic, you’re on your own.

What do you do when you’re stuck in a queue? Tell us in the comments.

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