Why ‘time management’ is actually impossible

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Why ‘time management’ is actually impossible

Veterinary professionals, you have a finite amount of time in this life—why are you spending it on other people’s priorities? Sit down, write out these two lists, and rejigger your commitments.
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Jun 05, 2018

Shutterstock.comIn the words of Kimberly Wilkins, otherwise known as Sweet Brown in a 2012 meme, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Time. It’s the one resource that we all use constantly and we all use differently—with varying degrees of success. And no matter who you are, you still have just 24 hours in a day. Therefore, the mere concept of time management is a fantasy.

What can you do? Spend your available hours wisely.

Don’t let urgency keep you from doing what’s really important

In my years, I too often allowed myself to fall into the rut of doing what seemed urgent but in fact was not important. There was never a shortage of squeaky wheels needing grease. We are all at risk of allowing urgent things to take away from the things that truly matter to us.

List 1: What are your priorities?

Rank the things you consider most important. If this were your last week on earth, what would you consider your priorities? Most of us would list family and friends, spiritual harmony. Again—this is your last week! How important would work be? Would golf rank above family? Would community or professional involvement rank above friends? Is that meeting you really don’t want to attend really more important than your spiritual harmony?

Agreements involving time and commitments are often made with little thought of importance—often proof of the old adage, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” They just become urgent because there are so many of them. Don’t allow the urgency of others to take you away from the things that are important.

List 2: What do you do?

Next, make a list of the things you’re doing with your time. Are you happy with it? There’s never a shortage of things to do, so could you focus on priorities and turn down things that take away from—rather than add to—what’s really important?

Now, rank these activities in terms of importance to you. If any items on your list aren’t worth your level of investment, do less. Maybe you can remove these items from your list entirely! If you don’t do that thing you don’t want to do, someone else will. Or maybe it doesn’t need doing.

Set priorities based on your own priorities, not anyone else’s. Learn to say “no” to things you don’t value so you can say “yes” to things you do. Remember … this is all the time you really have.

Dr. Mike Paul is the former executive director of the Companion Animal Parasite Council and a former president of the American Animal Hospital Association. He is currently the principal of MAGPIE Veterinary Consulting. He is retired from practice and lives in Anguilla, British West Indies.