Ask yourself this before adding something new to your schedule

December 6, 2016
Brian Conrad, CVPM
Brian Conrad, CVPM

Brian Conrad, CVPM, has been the practice manager for Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in Kennewick, Wash., since 1999. During his tenure at Meadow Hills, the clinic has been named Veterinary Economics Hospital of the Year in 2001 and the 2004 Mid-Columbia Small Business of the Year. Conrad is a frequent lecturer for the Fetch dvm360 conferences and a contributor to Veterinary Economics and Firstline magazines. He was recently appointed to the board of directors for the Veterinary Hospital Management Association.

The golden rule of new commitments and other sage work/life balance wisdom from Brian Conrad, a flawed but frank veterinary professional.

Editor's note: Brian Conrad is a practice manager, a writer, a CVC educator, the president of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, a husband and the father of a toddler. And while he would be the first to admit that he isn't always a model of perfect work-life balance behavior (thanks in part to a proclivity for procrastination), we recently sat down with him to learn how he's managing the madness both at home and in the workplace.

Sorry, commitments

As a parent, people are always telling me, “It goes by so fast, Brian. Don't miss it.” I believe that family comes first, and I've had to really look myself in the mirror a few times to make sure my life reflects that belief.

I take Ashlyn to daycare most mornings, and sometimes when I go in to wake her up, she says, “Snuggle me, Daddy. Snuggle me.”

And I'm thinking, “Holy crap! I have an article that's overdue. The hospital's calling because the AC unit isn't working and it's 97 degrees out. I've got a phone conference. I've got all these commitments!”

Yet, I'll try to quiet all of these thoughts and ask, “What's really important? This 3-year-old girl wants to cuddle with her daddy. Sorry, commitments.”

Time is not on my side

Time management is not my strength. In high school, I was the guy who waited until 2am the night before the due date to start my project. I deal with stress and deadlines and putting out fires really well, but functioning in procrastination mode wasn't a good method in high school and it hasn't served me well since. I've lost opportunities to advance my career because I kept putting off things until “tomorrow.”

As a result, I've started using lists and timetables in an attempt to “roadmap” myself. This has helped me carve out time for my family too, though I'll admit that doing so sometimes requires all-nighters to catch up on work.

The golden rule of new commitments

I'm trying to learn that it's okay to say no in order to avoid overcommitting myself. Before saying yes to anything new, I ask myself, “Can I be passionate about this?” If I can, I move forward.