How to make the minutes count


SO YOU'VE MADE up your mind to get some of those annoying errands out of the way. Before work tomorrow.

Before you get going, let us give you a few tips on how to make every minute (before 9 a.m.) count.

First off, if you know the chances are good that a business isn't in business before 9 or 10 a.m., don't waste time looking. If you bTC can call ahead and make an appointment, do so. Take the earliest one available. You'll be sure there won't be a backlog.

As a rule, office visits to doctors can't be made.

"Physicians make their [hospital] rounds first thing in the morning, or they schedule surgery, so they're usually not available until 9 a.m. or so," says Chuck McFadden, director of communications for the California Medical Association.

But ask, he says. Sometimes doctors can arrange a day when they can take early morning appointments.

Banks, too, generally don't open until 9 a.m. Most figure they're covered by the availability of automatic teller machines and Saturday hours.

"Banks are making an effort to increase options for their customers, but so far market research hasn't revealed a need to open earlier," says Virginia Stafford of the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C.

Other businesses set their own hours. That includes appliance repair shops, veterinarians, dentists and beauty salons.

"Those early morning appointments are snapped up fairly quickly," says Deadra Campi, office manager for San Jose dentist Tom H. Clark -- who sees patients at 8 a.m., four days a week. "That first one gets booked up at least two weeks in advance by the early birds."

Other places that open early include: dry cleaners, shoe repair shops, grocery stores, places for auto maintenance, gas stations, some city hall and government offices (such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and the post office), coin-operated laundries, veterinarians, mobile appliance repair, car washes and photocopy shops.

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