The focus of this advice isn’t restaurants—but it certainly might come in handy at such a place.

For most people, waiting is excruciating, a saboteur of to-do lists, and an enemy of productivity. Waiting spikes blood pressures, shortens tempers, and causes no small degree of infuriation and irritation.

It doesn’t have to be that way, if you live with intention and accept the reality that waiting is sometimes unavoidable. Here are three ways you can become an expert waiter.

Plan for Predictable Waits

Certain activities and occasions are going to involve almost-guaranteed delays. Your commute to work; a visit to your doctor’s office; a trip to that potpourri of humanity, or the department of motor vehicles. Yet in any of these situations—despite the utter predictability of the wait—you can look around and see people in near apoplexy, steam pouring from their ears. This is self-induced, unnecessary and unhealthy stress you shouldn’t be adding to your life… and easily avoidable. Keep educational or inspirational DVDs or podcasts on hand for those traffic jams. Take a book with you anytime you visit a place that requires you to sign in or take a number—and strategically choose something to read that will leave you smarter and better informed.

Expect the Unexpected

A recent survey found that 53 percent of Americans do not have a three-day supply of nonperishable food and water in their home. Most of them said they believed local authorities would come to their aid in the event of a disaster. This illustrates the troubling mindset of Americans in general and many Christians in particular: those who do nothing to prepare for emergencies and then wait helplessly for rescue. Don’t be that person! Today is the day to stock up for the storm, strengthen your relationships, build your emergency fund, and improve your health. And when the crisis comes, as surely it will, you will be poised to overcome the overwhelming, and be among the helpers, not the helpless.

Cultivate an Eternal Perspective

The Apostle Paul exhorted us to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16 ESV) You are surrounded by others whose harried lives and mountainous frustrations are symptoms of a great inner emptiness. What an opportunity to model the Godly virtue of patience! Not because you claim to have it all together—none of us really do—but because you’ve made a conscious and irrevocable decision to be ruled by the Prince of Peace.

Time waiting should never be time wasted. Now, are you going to squander your “dead” time on reaching the next level of Candy Crush, or are you going to become an expert waiter?

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