Healthcare is notoriously demanding in terms of time and energy. As a nurse, you are probably painfully aware of how few hours there are in a day to complete all the tasks you have been assigned or want to accomplish for yourself. If you’ve found yourself struggling to keep up with the frantic pace that is so common in the nursing field, you may need to work on your time management skills. While it can seem like a whole other chore to take on, practicing time management won’t take any more time out of your day, and if practiced often, it can actually help you get more done in less time. Ready to find out how to make your days more manageable? Keep reading for 5 simple tips you can start implementing today.
Plan in Advance
When I was a teenager, getting dressed in the morning was an awful chore. I never knew what I wanted to wear, and I was never happy with what I picked out. This led to me constantly being late to school because I had to try on a million different outfits before finding one that I was remotely happy with. After some time I started planning out my outfits the night before. I had more leisure time in the evenings than I did in the mornings, so it was easy for me to take the time to try on a few things and make a decision. Then I would lay everything out so it would be ready for me to just slip on in the morning. Making the decision at night made the start to my day much smoother.
The same principle applies to nursing (and to any job, honestly). The more you can plan and prepare in advance, the less you have to think and worry when it needs to get done. After all, much of the stress we experience at work is simply because we need to figure out what needs to happen next.
Instead, each evening, or at the end of your shift, make a list of everything that needs to get done the next day. A simple list on a post-it note that you will see first thing in the morning (or your next shift) will get you in work-mode and you won’t have to get your brain ready to think so early, because you did all your thinking yesterday! Now you can just get to work on the tasks you need.
Put the Most Important Tasks First
When you are making your list for the following day, you’ll need to prioritize your most important activities. As you make your list, you will likely find that it’s not possible to check everything off that day – and that’s perfectly ok! Some things can wait for tomorrow. However, a lot of things need to be done in a timely manner, so when you make your list, make sure you are focusing on the right tasks.
However, occasionally you might find that you have a block of 20 minutes free during the middle of the day. This might not be enough time to complete one of the larger tasks, but you could probably fill in the time with one of your less important but also less time-consuming tasks. Instead of leaving it for the next day, get it done when you have time.
Deal with Disruptions
In nursing, your day is filled with unpredictable events that could disrupt your workflow. Of course, these moments need your attention, even if it is just a patient calling for an extra pillow. Never forget that your nursing duties are number one over everything else. But be careful not to let these interruptions disturb the rest of your day. They may get you off track for a few moments but be ready to jump right into the task you were working on.
It’s ok to take a few minutes to relax or chat with a coworker but be careful not to let it get in the way of getting your work done. The more you leave unfinished today, the more work you have tomorrow.
One of the most common problems people face when they are trying to improve their time management skills is a lack of organization. If you spend half your workday looking for files or pens or lost emails, you won’t be able to accomplish all of the tasks you have set out for the day. Make sure that your workspace is clean and organized and that you know where to find all your important papers and writing utensils. It’s also a good idea to keep your days organized on a calendar, digital or paper, to keep important information organized as well.
There will be times when you simply can’t get everything done in a day, even the necessary tasks. If this is looking likely, reach out to coworkers and ask for assistance. Don’t be afraid to delegate work that affects all the nurses; not everything should fall on you to complete. Be careful to pay attention to your work pace because you’ll want to delegate work with enough time that your colleague can complete it. In other words, don’t wait until the end of the day to ask for help on a task that might take a couple of hours.