ImproMed, LLC. Logo
Issue: 61 - Jan 15, 2014
How to be Much More Effective in 2014
By: Dr. Phil Zeltzman
Dr. Phil Zeltzman1

Sam showed up at work with the best intentions. He woke up and made a conscious decision to be super-effective. He made an elaborate, color-coded to-do list that included important and urgent tasks. He promised himself that today would be the day he would finally tackle his big project.

However as soon as he sat down at his desk, doo-doo hit Sam's fan. Nicole, his head tech of 10 years, came to his office threatening to quit with no notice because of some ridiculous misunderstanding. Lisa, one of his receptionists, had to pick up her vomiting son at school. And Joanne, the drug rep, just showed up, unannounced, to talk to him about the next best pain medication.

Sam's super-effective day just turned into an endless series of interruptions and fires he had to put out. Bye bye efficiency. Sayonara to-do list. Ciao big-bold-promise-to-himself.

Come on, we know better. Every day brings a litany of drama, interruptions and bumps in the road. Big or small, they are part of veterinary life.

The moment we accept this immutable fact of life, is the day we can move on to bigger and better accomplishments.

But if those challenges are unpredictable and inevitable, does it mean we can never be efficient?

Of course not. The trick is to plan around other people's agenda. Block off time that cannot be interrupted no matter what, by anyone or anything. One exception might be if the clinic burns down - hopefully a highly unlikely and not repeatable event.

So what can you do? What's the secret? Make the executive decision, starting tomorrow, that you will block off 1 hour of "me" time and spend it on THE most important task you need to tackle to move closer to your big goals.

The location is just as important. It could be your office, as long as the door is locked, and possibly as long as knows you're in there. Impossible? OK, how about hiding in the conference room, or at the library, or in your home office, or at the local coffee shop, or at the park, or in your car?

The next trick is to ruthlessly avoid ANY distraction. No phone, no email, no Internet - unless you must use one of them to accomplish your task. I know, life is tough!

As we discussed in a previous ImproMed newsletter, “there is no such thing as time management. There is only self-management.”

If you have within you the willpower to work on a single task for 1 hour with no interruption, you will be light-years ahead of 99% of your peers or colleagues. You will move on to the rest of your day feeling like Super(wo)man.

Repeat this 200, 300 or 365 times every year, and the sky is the limit.

Sam gave this little productivity secret an honest shot. He wasn't convinced that such a simple trick would work, but what did he have to lose?

Well, within a year, Sam had designed the clinic of his dreams, negotiated an unbeatable loan, and assembled a great team to build it. Happiness in his professional life spilled over into his personal life. His personality changed - for the better - as he became more fulfilled.

So will you take the challenge? Will you block 1 hour of uninterrupted hyper-effective time every day? Are you ready to shorten your endless list of dreams and goals?

Please try. What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain?

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (