Learning to Hurry Up and Wait

Hurry up and wait. The last two years have hammered that idea into my head and my heart to the point that I’m too exhausted to hurry up or to wait.

I’m done.

Only I know I can’t be done because there’s still so much more to do.

Bad waiting doesn’t help the situation. When you are too tired to hurry up and wait but you still have to do what you need to do, how do you get it done?

fashion hand hurry outfit
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The Rule of Hurry Up and Wait

Several years ago, I worked on a Naval Air Station planning social activities for the enlisted men. I heard the sailors say, on more than one occasion, that they were always having to hurry up and wait. In other words, they had to get to where they needed to be early so they could wait until the next event.

They couldn’t be late because there were serious consequences to being late – not just for the individual, but for all those connected to the individual.

They couldn’t be just on time because you didn’t know what might come up. Planning to be on time would often mean you planned on being late. 

So, at the risk of having to wait, they would hurry up.

hurry up and wait

Where Does Hurry Up and Wait Come From

Although there’s no definitive proof, the consensus seems to be that the phrase “hurry up and wait” originated in the 1940s in the military. Today, it is used to refer to a situation where you are forced to hurry into a situation or towards the rushed end of a project only to be required to stop and wait for someone else, a situation you can’t control, or the paint to dry.

No matter where it comes from, it means the same thing to everyone. You aren’t able to keep going towards your defined destination.

Getting Through the Hurry Up and Wait Moments

The more that’s going in life, the tougher it becomes to hurry up and wait. You have other things to do and each waiting moment steals some of the time you need for those other things.

How to you get through those hurry up and wait moments? You find some ways to practice better waiting.

1. Make the most of your wait.

Instead of sitting around and waiting, do something while you wait. In five minutes, I can water the plants. In 10 minutes, I can take inventory of the refrigerator and freezer or I can begin to map out a meal plan. In 30 minutes, I can cook a meal. 

I might have to wait for what I hurried up to get to, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do something more or something different while I wait.

2. Phone a friend.

We do better when we are doing it together, even when we are only waiting. Having a friend to share the waiting with can keep your mind off the waiting and make the time pass a little faster. 

Bonus: a friend can help you see past the waiting to what comes next. 

3. Take a break.

Stop focusing on the situation you can’t control. When you turn your attention to something you can do then the waiting will be less stressful. You give your mind a break from being reminded that you are stuck until something happens outside of your control.

When you can’t do what you want or need to do then take a mental break from focusing on that point.

4. Remember there IS a reason for the wait.

Or at least accept that there has to be a reason for the wait even if you can’t see it in the moment. The more you remember it is there and the more you look for the reason, the easier it becomes to settle into the waiting.

Keep Going Even When You Have to Wait

There will be moments when you are forced to slow down, take a detour, or just sit and wait before you can take the next step. You know that when you stop, for whatever reason, you lose your momentum. So, the wait portion of the hurry up and wait moments is made even more frustrating.

You keep the momentum going by stopping in that project but continuing to do what needs to be done in another area. You keep going even if you can’t keep going where you want to go in the moment. 

By finding ways to stay active and intentional with your waiting, you’ll find the waiting takes less out of you.

When you get to the point where you are done because you’ve hurried up and waited until you’re exhausted, then stop focusing on that point and look elsewhere. Phone a friend. Take a mental break from focusing on the situation. Do what you can do instead of focusing on what you can’t.

We all have those hurry up and wait moments in life. It’s what you do next that will make the difference in your journey. 

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