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The 4P's: Tools for Living a Less Distracted Life

Tracy Dowdy, CVPM, MRG Consulting

April 2016|Peer Reviewed

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The 4P's: Tools for Living a Less Distracted Life


When every veterinary team member uses the 4 P’s as a TOOLKIT for personal growth, their professional growth and the practice can be positively affected.

Are you constantly bombarded with phone calls, emails, text messages, and meetings, all while managing the demands of your family and personal life? Do you feel that you never get caught up? I once allowed distractions to devour my time. Taking care of myself was no longer a priority; however, I realized neglecting myself was counterproductive and I adopted these 4 P’s as my toolkit for personal growth. Many veterinary professionals are similarly bombarded and distracted and could be helped by these tools.


Why do we do what we do? People are conditioned to have certain negative and positive beliefs and behaviors. It is important to move these beliefs and behaviors from the unconscious to the conscious mind and intentionally take on beliefs and behaviors that enable a life of purpose and meaning. For example, consider these thoughts about other people’s success: They are lucky, They have it easy, or I could never do that. Are these true statements, or are they excuses for our current place in life? So often, daily routines dictate our actions and distract from our dreams.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I living my truth?
  • What 3 words define who I am?
  • What 3 words should define how I interact with others?

Someone’s truth is his or her passion (eg, career, relationship, legacy). Too many forget to follow their passion (eg, a veterinary nurse who wants to be a veterinarian but thinks he or she is trapped and does nothing to achieve the goal).

Consider creating a clarity chart with words describing who you are and how you want others to see you, and meditate on them daily.

Clarity Chart

The author’s clarity chart is a daily reminder on her iPhone that describes who she is:

  • compassionate
  • confident
  • smart

and how she interacts with others:

  • as a leader
  • in the present
  • with compassion.


Many veterinary professionals do not take care of their mind, body, and soul. It is difficult to disconnect from work when we are constantly connected to a smartphone, yet we wonder why people are exhausted, stressed, irritable, and sick. If we spent a fraction of the time and energy on our personal physiology that we spend obeying work and smartphones, our lives would change for the better.

Ask these questions every day to stay accountable:

  • Am I rested and fully hydrated?
  • Am I sleeping, eating, exercising, and hydrating enough to have the energy I deserve?

Research shows getting more than 8 hours of sleep a night improves memory, performance, creativity, and attention, and reduces stress, depression, and weight gain.1 Also, breaks are scientifically proven to boost focus and productivity,2 so make exercising, getting fresh air, eating a healthy meal, and hydrating part of the daily routine.


Most of our attention focuses on distractions. In fact, 30% of daily productivity is lost by checking email within the first 30 minutes of waking up.3 An article in the Harvard Business Review states that trying to focus on more than 1 thing at a time lowers IQ by 10 points and decreases productivity by as much as 40%.4 That is nearly half of an entire day lost, resulting in that feeling of getting so little done. Create some rules to help avoid the distractions.  

Thirty percent of daily productivity is lost by checking email within the first 30 minutes of waking up.

  • Ask these questions: What is my mission today? What must I accomplish today to progress in life?
  • Plan the work day; make a list of priorities to accomplish each day.
  • Turn off computer and phone notifications.
  • Schedule a specific time each day to check email, preferably after the list of priorities is completed.


When I allowed my businesses to control my life, I was often totally disengaged in my relationships. I recall being asked countless times, Are you listening to me? What are you thinking about? You didn’t hear a word I said. I fell into the habit of not being present and engaged with the person in front of me.

To be persuasive and influential, you must connect with others by being open and vulnerable and using nonverbal cues (eg, eye contact, positive facial expressions, positive body language). Consider asking these questions when communicating with others:

  • Am I demonstrating bold enthusiasm when seeking influence? For example, leadership is influence. To motivate and persuade a team to follow a leader and his or her vision, the leader must be boldly enthusiastic about the goal.
  • Am I fully present and engaged?

When time is devoted to the 4 P’s, the result is high performance in every aspect of life.

References and Author Information

For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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