8 ways to lasso your workday

Show those other cowpokes that you're the rip-roarin'est, cat-spayin'est, delegatin'est on-time doctor in these parts.
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Jul 01, 2007


Craig Woloshyn, dvm
Howdy, guys and gals! You say your little dogs are plum wore out when there's still a lot of day left? You never see your little ones 'fore they're tucked in at night 'cause you're still at work finishing all that dang chartin'? Your dinner's as cold as a bald pig in a winter ice storm by the time you git 'round to eatin' it?

Don't fret! You too can wrangle time. Throw a rope around the old hourglass and wrassle it down. Tie those minutes up with a pig string in a half hitch, and git on home 'fore the sun sets in them western hills. Let's ride!

1. Make a promise

Before you get all fired up to change your work habits and make those hours dance to your fiddle, you need to make a commitment. Seems obvious, but ask yourself if this is a horse you really want to ride. Some of us like being behind the clock, turnin' that eight-second ride into an hour-and-a-half journey. These folks wear tardiness like a sheriff's badge and believe that working long hours for little return is a mark of their mettle. If this is you, mosey on over to another article. For the rest of you, let's get this gravy train a-movin'.

2. Put pen to paper

The next step in tamin' your workday is writing down your goal. It only takes a minute, and the act of writing makes your commitment more concrete. Any scrap of paper will do, and you don't need to show it to anyone except maybe your favorite trail pony. Make your goals simple and brief:"Go home before dark," "Visit children daily," or "Kiss my pony goodnight twice a week."

3. Check the time

Get yourself some digital timekeepers, pocket watches, or big ol' grandfather clocks. A wise cowpoke once said, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." That's never been truer than in time wrangling, so round up some time measurement devices and stick 'em in every room. You should be seeing the time from anywhere in the clinic, including the exam rooms.

Some folks say there shouldn't be clocks in exam rooms so that clients won't know how hopelessly late you are. But don't they already have wristwatches and cell phones? Yessiree, they certainly do. But soon that pesky clock will be on your side, and your clients will be scooting out of your hospital on time and thanking you for it.

4 . Pick 'n' choose

This one's about ranking tasks. When you're presented with a job to do, you should always ask yourself these three questions:

  • Should it be done? Just because a client wants you to make an after-hours house call to brand and deworm her herd of 17 monitor lizards in the middle of a spring blizzard doesn't mean you should. Learn to say no. Ask yourself what the negative consequences will be if you don't do it. More often than not, "nothing" will be the answer.
  • How important is it? Do you really need to return that salesperson's phone call? Leave it long enough and it might fall off the bottom of your to-do list. Good riddance.
  • How urgent is it? Many trivial tasks are more urgent than important ones. Repairing a fractured femur is more important than authorizing a refill, but that refill may be more urgent. If a trivial but urgent task will take a minute or two, git-'er-done! If it'll take longer, push it down the list or let someone else ride these trivial ponies for you.