I’d never thought of waiting in line to get my vehicle’s license plates renewed could prove to offer business lessons, but to my surprise I learned a few things.

Lesson number one: – Don’t wait until the last minute.

I’m always telling my clients to get their information to me early. Not only does it help me to keep my workflow smooth and even but having clients information early (or at least on time) also allows time for questions to be answered and a buffer to resolve other issues that may come up during the process. Yet here I am sitting at the Department of Motor Vehicles on the afternoon of the very last day before my license plates expire. I got here at 2:30pm, and now it’s 3 o’clock and there are still about 40 numbers to be called ahead of mine. Waiting in line is never fun but it is doubly anxious when you have no choice because of a deadline.

Lesson number two: Have all your information with you.

I think the most aggravating thing for me as a CPA is receiving only partial information from my clients. Just as the D.M.V. can’t process my registration without all the necessary information I can’t do my job properly unless I have access to all of my client’s documentation and information for their taxes. So you’d think I would have brought everything I needed with me. Nope!

I had forgot to bring in the insurance papers. Luckily for me, I had plenty of time before my number was called to go back to the car and get it. I did worry I might not have the newest insurance card in the van – and I was right. I was lucky though, that the old one had not yet expired – I didn’t want to have to run back home and possibly miss my number being called.

Lesson number three: Be prepared to wait.

Normally, I carry a knitting project with me everywhere I go, just in case I have to wait. This time however I forgot to bring it. But I did have paper and a pencil so I could write. As I looked around, it was amazing how many people were sitting there getting more and more aggravated as they waited. In this day-and-age with smart phones, computers and even paper, only a few of the D.M.V. “customers” had anything to do. Time is too precious to just wait let alone just wait in line at the D.M.V. So always have something productive available to work on even if it is just a knitting project or a pad of paper to jot notes down on.

Now it’s 3:30 and they have finally called my number. Woo-hoo! Now to go back to lesson number two. I didn’t have proof of an emissions test for my van (in my defense, I didn’t realize I needed one). That means that I’ll have to go do that first thing in the morning, driving to the Emissions Station with expired plates. But my time spent at the D.M.V. was not all a waste. I had learned some things about myself, got a few things done during my wait and hopefully given you food for thought next time you have to go somewhere you know you’ll be spending time waiting. Don’t waste your time, be productive! Bring all the necessary information with you, and like the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared!”