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3 Easy Ways to Shorten Any Wait Time (Really!) + Get Anything Done Faster

Insiders reveal the genius hacks that really work!

Americans spend 37 billion hours a year waiting in lines — and that number is only increasing thanks to everything from worker shortages to population increases. That’s why we asked the pros for easy ways to beat the wait so you can save time and stress. Keep reading for their genius advice on how to avoid wait times.

1. Schedule doctors visits during these ‘golden hours’

Think the early bird gets the worm when it comes to shorter wait times at the doctor? Not so, according to the online booking site Turns out most office workers tend to schedule their appointments as early as possible, before their shift starts, which can make it the busiest time for many medical offices.

“I’ve found it’s often better to book the first appointment after the office’s lunch break,” says Jennifer Kropf, editorial director at, a site whose mission is to support women and their families with resources that enrich daily life. “Just ask the receptionist what time they typically lunch.”

The day you schedule also matters, per Zocdoc experts: To get in and get out quickly, opt for Monday, which was shown to have the shortest wait times of the week. And if you can, try to avoid Tuesdays and Thursdays, both of which had the most appointments booked with the longest delays.

Also smart: Ask the receptionist whether the office books multiple appointments at the same time, a practice known as “wave scheduling.” This means the doctor sees patients in order of arrival, so you’ll get in and out quicker if you sign in 10-15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.

Related: Benefits of Telehealth: MDs Reveal When It Gets You Better Care Than In-Person Visits

2. How to avoid wait times: Shift to the left at grocery stores

How to avoid wait times: Mature woman keeping juice bottle in bag while standing at checkout counter

The easiest way to avoid interminable grocery queues is to think like a left-hander, like, say, Oprah or Paul McCartney: “A fascinating tidbit I learned from my numerous visits to Disneyland is that left lines often move faster due to people’s natural tendency to veer right,” reveals Michael L. Moore, who as founder of Disney trip-planning company Countdown to Magic has become a self-made expert in the art of beating lines. “There’s a theory that this stems from the fact that most people are right-handed, so we just have a tendency to favor that side.”

Timing also matters when it comes to food shopping: skip Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, when 59% of shoppers buy their weekly groceries, according to marketing research company Drive Research. It found that Wednesday is the best for beating crowds. Even better? “Hump day” also happens to be the best time for scoring low prices, since deals from the previous week and the current week are most likely to overlap on this day.

Also smart: Don’t be fooled by the “express” lane. It turns out the process of saying “hello,” paying, collecting bags and saying “goodbye” takes more time for each customer than packing up their groceries. So, if there are 4-5 folks queued up in the express lane with only a few items each, this line will still likely take longer than the regular lane with one or two people with full carts.

Related: 8 Genius Ways to Save at Restaurants So You Can Eat Out for Less + Even Score Freebies

3. Download these apps before going to the airport

Airlines still haven’t recovered fully from the pandemic, but interest in traveling has — which means many airports are understaffed and experiencing longer than normal lines and delays.

“What I’ve learned from years of traveling is to keep an eye out for new security lines opening up,” says travel advisor Christen Thomas, founder of “That may be tough to see from the back of a long line, but if you download the app for that airport, most of them have a live system that shows you which lanes are opening and how long the wait is for each, making choosing the shortest queue very easy.”

And once again, timing matters: Travelers are often advised to book the earliest flight of the day to avoid delays, but these times can also be the busiest at major airports, particularly on Monday mornings due to business travelers. Instead, consider a late-night or red-eye flight sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday—not only will the airport be fairly empty, but the flights also tend to be the cheapest.

Also smart: One of the fastest ways to beat airport lines is to pay for TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry or Clear, which allows you to skip the lengthy security checkpoint. Unfortunately, that can cost $85 or more — but some credit card companies offer this service as a free perk. Simply call the customer service line on the back of your card to ask.

Related: 4 Insider Tricks That Make It Easy to Save Big on Spring Travel

Bonus: How to get anything done faster!

Clear your inbox with ‘auto sorting’

Does tackling new email messages seem to take you all day? You can easily cut that time in half, with this system by productivity coach Kirstin O’Donovan, author of Tapping Into Neuro-Productivity. “Today’s email programs let you auto-sort common messages — like e-newsletters and social media alerts — into special folders, so they won’t go directly into your inbox.” This way you can deal with them when you have the time. To do, just go into email settings, create folders for the messages you receive regularly and set them to auto-sort.

Related: Too Much To Do? Try These 4 Smart Time Management Tips for Getting It All Done

Shrink your to-do list with Pomodoro

Time management expert Jamie Novak, author of 1000 Best Quick and Easy Organizing Secrets swears by the “Pomodoro Technique.” Just block off 25 minutes and turn off distractions, then work on only one thing. After your first “pomodoro,” take a five-minute break, then repeat two more times. After that, work for another 25 minutes and take a 15-minute break. “This reduces your to-dos to a series of easy-to-manage, 25-minute chunks.”

Get chores done quicker by ‘batching’ them

Blocking off time to do chores all at once is much more efficient than trying to do each one as it pops up. “For example, if you pay bills by check, store the bills together, then set a phone reminder to handle the whole pile once or twice a month,” says Frank Buck, author of Get Organized! Similarly, on laundry day, save the folding until all the washer/dryer cycles are done that day. “Batching” chores like this is not only less draining, it’s also shown to improve efficiency.

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