During the long winter months, patience really is a virtue. The days are short and gray, and snow and ice are always in the forecast. It is the perfect time and place to develop patience. For the spring. For the summer months. For flowers and fireflies.

Patience is a skill like any other. It has to be developed and practiced. In the age of smartphones, we rarely have to wait for a response, for a package, for a movie. We simply use our smartphone and—ta da—we have what we want. We do not often have to be patient, consequently, we become impatient easily.

There are many ways to develop patience. Making a list of tasks, events and expectations helps develop a game plan for how to reach those results. If you want a great herb garden, now is the time to read gardening catalogues to determine what grows best in your area. Start looking at recipes to see what herbs you would realistically use and enjoy. Look at photos to determine what would work well with your house color or your landscape.

If you want to run a 5k in the summer, it is the perfect time to begin working out. There is plenty of time until the first race and most gyms offer great deals in January. Look at the race clubs in your area. Joining a club may be just the motivation you need to develop this longer term goal.

Perhaps, most impactful area where patience is lost is our communication with each other. We are less thoughtful about our questions when we want an immediate response. We often fail to consider what the message says to the recipient. If we text during dinnertime, are we interrupting a conversation on the other end? Think about the last time you received a letter. Did you open it the moment you opened the mailbox? Or did you wait until you were sitting in a good spot, giving it the attention it deserved? When you wrote your most recent letter on paper, did you consider the other person’s perspective? Writing letters takes practice and insight. It takes patience to develop thoughts and to wait for a response.

One of the easiest ways to be patient is to weave a list of tasks, deadlines and projects. If you are distracted by another meeting, letter or project, you will not focus on the lapse of time. The ability to work on many items allows time to pass seamlessly. This is not the same concept as multi-tasking, which involves working on many items simultaneously. For instance, if you are enjoying a great book but arrive earlier than a friend to a meeting point, you have time to read without becoming impatient. If you are anxious about a response to a proposal, take time while waiting to be constructive and to free your mind from worry. Focus on the matter in front of you rather than watching your herbs grow, or waiting for your text to be returned.

Patience is mindfulness, listening to silence, seeing the view, and hearing others. Being present in a conversation or focused on one task at a time creates pace in our lives. When you are patient, you will find that others appreciate your kindness and willingness to be present for them.