Time flies, but those earthbound spend about five years of their lives standing in lines and six months sitting at stoplights, according to a time management expert who says every minute counts.

"Most people don't realize how much time they're wasting," said Michael Fortino, president of the consulting firm Priority Management Pittsburgh Inc. "The whole point is to spend time doing the things that you want to do rather than the things you dislike."To determine how time is spent, Priority Management researchers, often with stopwatch in hand, studied hundreds of people around the nation for more than a year, Fortino said Monday.

The study estimated the average person spends six months at stoplights, eight months opening junk mail, one year searching for misplaced objects, two years trying to return telephone calls to people who never seem to be in, four years doing housework, five years in line and six years eating.

To determine which fast-food giants are the fastest, University of Pittsburgh business students commissioned by Priority Management timed clerks at Wendy's, McDonald's and Burger King restaurants in Pittsburgh at least 100 times each.

Wendy's won, taking an average 46 seconds to serve a hamburger, french fries and soft drink. It took 1 1/2 minutes at McDonald's and three minutes at Burger King.

Many people spend relatively little time on things they say they value, Fortino said.

Priority Management conducted a telephone survey of more than 1,000 married people and marriage guidance counselors across the nation. The study estimates the average married couple spends four minutes a day in meaningful conversation and the working couple spends 30 seconds a day talking with their children.