How Much Time Are We Really Wasting in Queue?


There are many places we visit every day where there is a line that we need to queue in, so it is hard to track all the time that we spend in queues.  However, there are estimates of how long the average person spends in a queuing system in a lifetime, and it is shocking. Even with improvements to a queue management system, the amount of time we spend queuing is still very high.

The average amount of time that we spend in queues every year is 18 hours, which breaks down to almost 7 minutes every week. This does not seem too bad until you apply that number to the average lifespan. On average, people spend 52 days of their lives waiting in queues. That is 7 and half weeks of our lives. However, it does not feel that way.

The reason that we do not think about all the time that we spend in line is that the time in a queuing system is broken up. We do not go from queuing system to system since we have the time to travel from store to store, and the time to spend shopping. Good management systems also make the waiting not seem as bad.

Where Are We Queuing the Longest?

There are many places that we spend a long time in queue, like an iPhone launch queue, but these are not where we spend most of our time in queues. The most amount of time that we spend queuing is at stores, with supermarkets being the number one place we queue. Other retail outfits are second on the list. However, there are many other areas in our daily life that we spend in a queue. Restaurants and bars are other areas that we spend a huge amount of our time queuing at.

How Long Should You Wait in a Line?

The amount of time that we are willing to queue depends on the location. So, think about all the times that you have found a long line and avoided it. This happens more than most people are comfortable admitting. Unless you really need something and cannot get it anywhere else, you could be avoiding waiting in line, especially if there are more than 10 people. Our brains are programmed to avoid long wait times, so we try the line switch method to try to save time. This is when you will switch lines because the next line looks like it is moving faster. This can cause you to wait longer, but you will still think that you waited a shorter amount of time.

A good queue management system can help cut the amount of time that we spend queuing. The iPhone launch queue was a few city blocks long in New York City, but the queue were just as long at Apple Authorised resellers in Singapore. Singapore has just had the first Apple store open, so it is hard to know how they are going to handle the long lines that new releases have.

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