Business Insider Edition

This concert-violinist bus driver fiddles while he waits – 4 productive things you can do to kill time

Bombi Mavundza , Business Insider SA
 Apr 17, 2018, 04:05 PM

  • Tom Trutter from Athlone in Cape Town plays the violin in the Jammie shuttle daily to pass the time before his shift starts.
  • Experts say that the brain hates being bored – and keeping busy will make time seem to be passing faster.
  • Doing maths, or playing an instrument, are great alternatives to staring at your phone.


Tom Trutter, a Jammie driver at the University of Cape Town (UCT), has been playing the violin on and off since he was 14 years old.

Passionate about it, he continued to practice on his own, with or without money for tutors. Three years ago he enrolled at CP Music where he is being tutored and currently holds a grade 7 in violin.

"It's been great because I have been making mistakes and over the years. I didn't have anyone to correct me up until now. I can see my improvement," he added.

Such is the improvement that he now plays in concerts hosted by the centre.

It was while practising for one such concert that he was spotted very early on Thursday morning by a UCT student, who took a video of him and posted it on Twitter.

Though he is expected to be at the university at 6:00, his shift at the Clarinus residence shuttle stop starts at 7:00.

He tells Business Insider that after checking on his bus, he starts practising his violin at 6:20.

"I take every opportunity I can get throughout the day, even if it's a two minute break. If I can get two hours it will be great, but I myself have to make the time," he adds.

"That is fantastic," says Kobus Maree, of the department of educational psychology at the University of Pretoria. According to Maree, what Trutter is doing is a hypnotic phenomenon called time distortion. This is when one is able to shift their mind to focus solely on an activity in order to make it seem that time is moving faster.

"The mind hates being bored," he says.

"So you have to trick your mind into focusing on what would be considered a boring activity."

This not only helps in passing the time, but is also productive. Maree says taking out your cellphone while in a queue and reading from it could help ease the boredom.

The crucial part is identifying one's interests and strengths, says Prof. Joseph Seabi, an educational psychologist from Wits University's psychology department. He adds that sometimes it doesn't have to be a strength, but something that can be developed.

"Once it has been identified, the next step is how to develop and nurture it by practising or spending a considerable amount of time engaged in the activity," says Seabi.

"The problem is people tend to spend invaulable time on their cellphone and often engage in non-productive activities," he adds.

Suggestions of things to do while you wait include:

Mathematics problems, sudoku, or crosswords.

"If you are a student, try do a difficult sum," says Maree.

Focusing your mind on something challenging like a mathematics sum not only pushes to want to understand it, but you end up understanding it.

Sudoku and crossword puzzles are also perfect for keeping your brain busy.


Play an instrument.

Like Trutter, you can play an instrument to pass the time. If it is compact enough to travel, that is.


A maker hobby like knitting, drawing, or painting.

Seabi suggests knitting, drawing or painting. Maree concurs.

"People alway put off activities for later when they have enough time, but the time never arrives," he says. While waiting to go somewhere or do something, take those few minutes to start the activity. The following days thereafter can be focused on improving the project.


If all else fails, work.

If you have access to your work while outside of the office, then Maree suggests you do it where you are.

"This enables you to halve your workload," says Maree.

Many people still prefer to read while they wait or are trying to kill time, others knit, but Maree says whenever you feel bored and want to kill time, always go for the things you always wished you had more time doing.

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