5 Time Management Tips for Busy Nurses

By Catherine Bynes on Wed, May 21, 2014

time management for nursesNursing 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 these time management tips for nurses is one way to make your life a little easier, as well as getting more done!

  1. Plan your day out in advance.

    Many nurses say that while planning is a good idea, their days are too unpredictable to plan. 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, nurses who do plan their day and the tasks they have to accomplish will find that they get more done with less stress.

    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. 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!

  2. 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. Due to the unpredictable nature of your nursing 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 levels drop.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

Do you have other time management tips for nurses? Share them here in the comments!


Kevin Peter 3 weeks ago
Kudos to all the super energetic nurses saving zillions of people everyday. No matter how advance you plan your day, there will definitely be unpredictable change. And the best part is we never have seen any nurse turn down a patients request!

On the employment front, I see the necessity of all hospital and medical entities moving towards employee time tracking majorily to track down and update the system with the latest government changes and implementation on the compliance.

Axce Dant 5 months ago
Venture back and consider the vitality of occasions around you. Ask yourself what will sensibly happen on the off chance that you put off collapsing the clothing for a day or if the dishes are not done today evening time. At that point much the same as you do at work, get to be open to appointing — ask your life partner or kids to help with errands or appoint a rundown of tasks so everybody is offering the workload

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Teresa Caldwell 9 months ago
I disagree with the "it's ok to say no" part. We are in the customer service business. Would I like to say no? Of course, but there is no one you can say "no" to as a staff nurse and not get into trouble for. Anyway, prioritizing is key to staying on track and appropriate delegating whenever possible. Most importantly, don't forget to have a sense of humor! Laughter is so important is this line of work!

donnabednarski 1 month ago
I couldn't agree with you more, Nursing is more than pill passing, patients also need emotional care and comfort Write a comment

garsideamy12-at-gmail.com 9 months ago
Through lots of experiences, I have learned to manage time effectively. You just need to pay attention to details and get focused. Keep it in mind that you are a nurse and you need to provide care to people.

Jennifer Fox 10 months ago
So this list...shouldn't it be made prior to going into work as hitting the ground running is not conducive to list writing? Our time at the bedside does not belong to us. It belongs to those on whom we depend to do our jobs, ie pharmacy, administration, providers. We may plan to give meds,even stat or one time orders on time but if the pharmacy decides not to send the med til a certain time, takes the med off the profile while the nurse was performing another impromptu directed task, the 'plan' is completely shot. Administrators collaborate monthly on new and more time consuming pointless tasks for nurses to perform to free the time of more important team members without deleting previous mindless mandated tasks.What long extended non-work related chats? Most nurses don't even know their nurse colleagues. Their only interaction is requesting a co-sign if another warm licensed body can be found, and 'no' is not an optional response. We're all we've got. Delegating? To whom. Most facilities are extremely proud of how much patient care is provided and bogus tasks completed when severely short staffed. There's a major chasm between time managed by others and having control over when or if anything is accomplished.

lydia aram 1 year ago
It can be difficult to plan when we have so much of work going on, but a plan will help us to become more effective, organized, and reduce our stress too.

Better time management skills would come in handy when working on a ward. I would suggest to use Replicon's ( http://www.replicon.com/time-tracking-softwares.aspx ) software to manage your time more effectively at most urgent situation.