5 Time Management Tips for Busy Nurses
Nursing is a demanding job and it can often feel as though there are not enough hours in the day to complete all of your tasks. Unlike other jobs, priorities can change rapidly - when a patient is in urgent need of your attention, your to-do list can change rapidly. The hectic pace of the job is one of the reasons that many nurses get burned out and stressed out. Using time management techniques designed with nurses in mind is one way to make your life a little easier, as well as getting more done! Time management strategies can be broken down into five strategies:
- Plan your day out in advance. Many nurses say that while planning is a good idea, their days are too unpredictable to plan. However, nurses who do plan their day will find that they get more done with less stress. It is difficult to plan your day because your environment can change rapidly, and much of your day is spent responding to the needs of patients. However, if you plan out the tasks you have to get done in a day they can become more manageable. Make a list of everything you must get done today. Then, make a note of how long it will take and rank the jobs in order of importance. Start looking at tasks and seeing when you will have time in your day to get one or two items done, and when you have a few minutes, complete a task that you can get done in that time. You will also feel better knowing that you are not forgetting anything!
- Focus on the most important activities first. When you make the list above, also focus on the items with the highest priority. Remember, you may not be able to get everything done but by completing the most important tasks, you will be less stressed. Also, keep in mind that if nothing is going on right now, you should be working on one of your tasks because due to the unpredictable nature of your job, you can’t be sure that you will have time later. As you complete tasks, check them off on your list. It will give you a sense of accomplishment and make your stress level drop.
- Don’t let interruptions disrupt your day. Nurses have to deal with many interruptions, many of which can’t be helped. However, there are many interruptions that are not so important. Interruptions like long non-work related chats with other staff members, checking non-work email, or other non-essential tasks can get you off track quickly. Make time to relax, visit and do things to lower your stress, but don’t let those things become more important than your work.
- Keep yourself and your workspace organized. Being organized saves time. If you have a desk, spend a few minutes at the end of the day to put papers where they belong so that you can find them when you need them. At the beginning of the day, make sure all equipment is clean and ready for use. This will lower your stress level and make your day easier.
- Learn to delegate tasks. Remember that you can’t do it all, nor should you have to. When you need help, ask. If someone asks you to do something that you don’t have time, it’s OK to say no. Remember, time management is about making your day easier and more productive!
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