What to Do When Your Schedule Falls Apart

by Feb 10, 2022Success

You had a super important project to finish, but a hit-by-car patient needed attention first. 

You and your team were ready to tackle a busy morning of appointments, but Susie needed to pick up her daughter who vomited at school all morning, and Nicole had to stay in bed because of a migraine, and John’s car refused to start – again. 

You had a highly anticipated family reunion, but your freezer died. 

Welcome to real life! 

Sometimes, we simply need to accept that we can’t control everything and everybody. 

What can you do when your schedule falls apart, besides having a temper tantrum, giving up, or curling up into the fetal position? 

1. Realize that some items on your oh-so important list are not life and death situations. Take a step back, take the emotion out of it, and put things into perspective. How important will this task seem a year or ten years from now?

2. Even if you can’t do the 10 things on your list, can you do one? Can you eliminate one? Can you delegate one?

3. Take one step, however small, to get closer to one goal. Write one sentence – or one paragraph. Make one quick phone call. Send one short email.

4. Procrastinate – on purpose (as best-selling author Rory Vaden would say). Tomorrow is another day. Unless you need to land a plane, deliver a baby or close an abdomen, simply add the task to tomorrow’s to-do list (or this weekend’s) (or next week’s).

5. Can you pivot and do something beneficial, yet smaller in scope? If you missed your daily morning 5K, can you squeeze in a walk with your dog tonight? A quick bike ride? 10 sit ups? 10 squats? 

6. Take it as an opportunity to reassess your to-do list, your project list and your goals. What could you eliminate once and for all?

7. Time to be mindful. Do a bit of deep breathing, meditation or yoga to help you relax.

8. Ask for help. Can a friend, a colleague or a family member jump in and help out?

9. Can you rearrange things? Can you move an appointment? Can you switch things around?

10. If you suddenly find yourself with free time, turn a negative into a positive. What can you do during that time? Can you shift and take something off your to-do list? Can you write up a chart, send an email or make a quick purchase online?

11. Do other people’s priorities suddenly become yours? Do others dictate your schedule? Is it time to reassess your boundaries? Could this be a blessing in disguise?

12. At the end of a messed-up day, take a moment to reflect. Ask yourself: Could this “unexpected” change have been predicted? Does it happen more often than I thought? What can I do to prevent it in the future?

Your schedule is not set in stone. It’s not a work of art. It is not the boss of you. 

Accepting change is a strength. Embracing it is a skill. Being flexible is an art. 

Change, disruptions and surprises are part of life. This too shall pass. 

A schedule is merely plan A. If something comes up, then accept it since you likely cannot change it. 

So next time your schedule falls apart, rather than fuming, mumbling or complaining, take a deep breath (literally) and move on to plan B.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Meredith Jones, DVM
Co-Founders of Veterinary Financial Summit