Knowing How to Wait

Knowing how to wait is a virtue. Or so we repeatedly hear: "You need to be patient", "Don't be so impulsive!", "Don't be in such a hurry", "Good things come to those who wait". Why is knowing how to wait so important? And why is it so difficult? What are the costs and drawbacks of waiting? Sometimes waiting becomes a vice, as when we loaf about and waste time. Sloth, however, can be overcome. For example, the strategic use of deadlines, even insidious ones, can help us keep our commitments. The two-faced nature of waiting is a veritable keystone for time management and goal achievement.

Fabio Paglieri is a researcher at the Cognition Sciences and Technologies Institute of the National Research Council in Rome.