Appointments can reclaim your quality of life


Only about 80 percent of time slots will be accomplished despite the best plans, but it's better than 20 percent without a plan.

OK, we all agree that there is just not enough time these days.

The time crunch seeps into every part of our life. Skip breakfast, grab a quick lunch, there's no time to exercise, oops missed another soccer game. "I'll be home late; go ahead with dinner."

Do you remember the last time you went out on a date with your husband or wife? What's the status of that long-awaited vacation, or a trip to the dentist, and how is the car-maintenance schedule anyway? Are we too busy to put our tools away, creating even more frustration the next time we need those tools?

A daily schedule or worksheet, might look like this

Breaking free

The point? Life can become a paralyzing vortex unless we take charge. To accomplish this, we need to set concrete goals embedded into life like bedrock. These are rock-solid principles that keep us focused and moving forward.

The first of the year is the perfect time to start planning. Remember, we can all work smarter, not harder.

Your plan should be focused on time management to make more use of each day, each week, each month and each year.

Making and keeping appointments is an effective way to accomplish all that is really important to us.

Setting priorities

Life-time allotments can be divided into four life groups: personal, professional, financial and fun.

  • Personal life includes exercise, religion, relationships and personal development.

  • Professional life includes our career, which includes floor duties, management duties, enrichment and public service.

  • Financial life includes planning, budgeting, implementing and auditing.

  • Fun life might include recreation, reading, riding, hiking, boating and fishing.

  • Fun is the fuel for life.

Without recreation, we become abrasive, and the margin of error and toleration for the foibles and weaknesses of those around us is non-existent.

Fiscal freedom

So, what about our financial life?

Money, like it or not, is the lubrication of all groups because it is clear that we all have different financial needs and dreams.

It is also clear that we need to live within our limitations yet meet our life group needs.

We cannot depend upon the government to provide retirement or healthcare; thus, a long-term financial plan is needed.

When we let life happen without a plan and without appointments, life just happens. The result: Only a small fraction of our life-long goals are achieved.

The reason for this is the concept of "work expands to fill the time."

Certainly we have seen that we can send two folks to do the work of one. The same mechanics work against us each day when we do not have a master plan and dream.

So make appointments for reading, exercise, family dates, soccer games, and, yes, spontaneous activities.

Charting a course

Take a sheet of paper and create four columns, one for each: personal, professional, financial, fun.

In each column, enter those activities for which you desire a time slot in the upcoming year.

Now get out a daily, weekly, monthly and annual calendar.

Start with the annual calendar.

Drawing from the life columns, block out annual time allocations.

Next, get out the monthly calendar.

Drawing from the life columns, block out monthly time allocations.

Next, get out a weekly calendar.

A weekly template can be formulated and edited relative to the annual and monthly calendar.

From the life columns, place those time allocations needed to fulfill the annual dream into the weekly calendar.

Next get out a daily calendar.

We will make a daily template that is to be used and edited relative to the previously outlined annual, monthly and weekly appointments.

After completing, the next step is to finalize the overall life plan.

Is time listed for each item on the master life column page?

Here are some suggestions:

Include vacation and family trips.

Doctor appointments, school times are listed.

Time to see your siblings are posted.

Time allocations are present to read professional materials and personal development books. (Consider a daily study hall.)

Maintenance schedules are included for: automobiles, computers, furnaces, air conditioners, house, yard, etc.

Happy couples have time for each other and have a "date night." (We have two, Wednesday and Saturday.)

It's important to remember that only 80 percent of the time slots will be accomplished with an annual appointment plan. But that is vastly better than 80 percent of the issues that will not be addressed if an overall plan is not in place.

Dr. Riegger, dipl. ABVP, is the chief medical officer at Northwest Animal Clinic Hospital and Specialty Practice. Contact him at,, telephone and fax (505) 898-0407. Find him on AVMA's NOAH as the practice management moderator. Order his books "Management for Results" and "More Management for Results" by calling (505) 898-1491.

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