10 Things You Can Do To Make Waiting Purposeful

I played so much Angry Birds while I was going through chemo, that now, when I see a picture of an Angry Bird, I start to feel a little green around the gills. Actually, as I write this, just thinking about Angry Birds makes me a little sick to my stomach.

Once I finished treatment and found I could no longer play my favorite time-killing app, I had to try and think of some other ways to pass the time while waiting around to be seen.  Here are some suggestions for making the most of your time.

1. Make Lists
I pull out my phone and make all sorts of lists: questions for my doctors, shopping lists, to-do lists, places I want to visit, recipes I want to try, possible birthday gifts for family members, books I want to read…I just made a list of lists I make—meta.


2. Self-Talk
Please don’t do this out loud or you may find yourself leaving with a few extra medications. No, self-talk is like having an intentional, internal monologue. This is time where I sit and think positive thoughts, meditate on reassuring quotes, or try and logically talk myself through issues weighing heavily on my mind.


3. Do Something Creative
People who can knit or sew are, in my mind, wizards. I don’t have the kind of magic in my hands to be able to do that, but I can doodle, cross stitch, or my personal favorite—plug headphones into my phone to make beats and write songs with Garage Band Studio.


4. Text
Having never been a phone person, this is the kind of thing I don’t normally think to do, but when I find myself with phone service and extra time in a waiting room, I try to check in with people.


5. Clean Out Your Inbox
Being the proud user of a Hotmail email address from 1996, I get a lot of ads in my inbox I don’t normally take the time to delete.


6. Clean Out Your Photos
So…much…storage… If you regularly take photos, but don’t regularly delete them off your phone, it’s a good way to spend a few minutes. And don’t forget to delete them from the “deleted” photos album!


7. Seated Kegels
Not just for women…


8. Click-to-Give
That’s right you can do charity work…without spending money… There are so many click-to-give charity sites nowadays, where you click a button and some people will donate money just because you showed your support for a cause by caring enough to click.


9. Conduct Research
Chances are there are other people in the room where you are waiting. You can ask them questions about things you want to know more about. Even if they don’t know the answer to your question, it could be a good way to strike up a productive conversation.


10. Take a walk
I don’t know why more waiting rooms don’t have treadmills, but if you arrive for your appointment, and there seems like there is going to be a long wait, you could ask the person at the reception desk how long they think it will be, cut that number in half and take a little walk.

Cropped view of a pair of woman's feet wearing sports trainers and walkingimages via here, here, here, here, here, and here

How do you like to spend your time waiting?  Check out our other keeping busy while waiting posts here and here!


With a cancer diagnosis, you get bombarded with a ton of information. Disease info, hospital info, oncologist info, treatment plan info, clinical study info, drug side effect info, etc. One of the things they don’t really spell out in all that info is how at least half of the treatment plan is waiting. Waiting for your appointment, waiting for the doc to come in, waiting for blood counts to see if chemo can start, waiting for the chemo to arrive, waiting for your blood to be typed, waiting for the blood transfusion to arrive, waiting for test results, waiting to see if the drugs are working… waiting for answers.

In the midst of all that waiting leaves a lot of time. Finding things to do with that time is very important for me, because if I’m not staying occupied, my mind can wander to some fearful places. I’ve learned over the past 2 years to never expect to just be “in and out” when it comes to a clinic visit or a chemo appointment. Something always seems to come up that has us waiting, so we show up prepared. Bastian brings his iPad, or his Kindle, or a movie to watch. I bring my laptop and catch up on work, or read on my Kindle. I keep a suitcase packed in my trunk with clothes for the both of us, just in case a short clinic trip ends up becoming an overnight stay in the hospital for one reason or another.

Because I know I’m going to be waiting a lot, there are things that I always make sure we have when heading to the hospital. Besides clothes, below is my personal checklist:

  • Phones, Kindles, Ipad, Laptop
  • Chargers for all of the above
  • Cash/change for the vending machines or cafeteria
  • Paper and pen/pencil
  • Dry erase markers – to decorate Bastian’s windows should the need arise
  • Chewing gum/candy
  • Bastian’s next 2 med doses (even if I’m sure we’ll be home in time)

With Bastian being a juvenile patient, most hospitals have some kind of Child Life program with volunteers who come by to see if he needs anything, or wants to participate in arts and crafts, music, or various other activities. However, a lot of the time, he feels crummy and just doesn’t want to be bothered with anyone else, especially when the docs and nurses are in and out all the time. So, we come prepared to entertain ourselves the best we can, while we wait.