One of the hardest things when becoming a nurse is how to manage your time effectively, but also one of the most important habits to develop. Nursing school will be able to prepare you for many aspects of your career, but it is important to effectively prioritize your time and responsibilities to make the most of your day.
Nurses who succeed at managing their time see worthwhile benefits as they move through their career. From prioritizing patient care, completing internal administration tasks, educational responsibilities, and making time for a personal life, with such a stressful and demanding job it’s vital to keep good time management habits.
Here are some strategies we have gathered to help you master your time management skills.
Create Achievable Goals
Research has shown that making achievable short-term and long-term goals for yourself can help increase productivity. Short-term goals may easily dominate over long-term, with urgent and more immediate pressure to accomplish them. Nurses are encouraged to set achievable goals for themselves over the next one to three years as they work towards their long term goals that they would like to complete in five to ten years.
Setting daily goals and organizing tasks based on their priority can help you accomplish your day with less stress. In healthcare, it is understood that your schedule is unpredictable and may need to change on short notice, but planning for standard tasks ahead of time can help make the more stressful situations more manageable. Taking notes on the common tasks you do daily, and how long it takes to complete them, can help you prioritize the order of how you complete them while the rest of your work day may have more urgent matters.
With social media and smartphones at our fingertips every day, it can be easy to be tempted with these kinds of distractions. When it comes to time management, you’ll need to remove these distractions as they can pose a higher threat of accidents and other consequences if you are not fully focused on your tasks in front of you.
One of the best ways you can avoid wasting time is to keep a tidy workspace and organized filing system. Without having to shuffle through patient records, charts or prescriptions, you can quickly locate and hand over the information to the person in need of it. Having your entire staff know where files and other specific information will benefit the whole office and keep things running smoothly.
It is common for people to not want to ask for help and worry about being a bother to others, but needing help is normal. Even with optimal time management, nurses will always rely on their team of health care workers.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) has written a guide for registered nurses to show strategies and how to practice delegating. In this guide it is instructed how to make responsible decisions about delegating nursing responsibilities that are based on the following:
- Care complexity of a patient
- How available the worker is that has accepted the tasks
- The type of supervision needed
- The intensity of supervision needed
Delegation will work best when the team of healthcare workers all have a positive work relationship and support system, with the ability to communicate and work together efficiently. This time management in nursing can be used successfully for administrative tasks or routine procedures, rather than with nursing decisions that should be made by a licensed RN.
By connecting with peers, instructors, and other fellow nurse staff, you can create a solid support system. This allows you to share different time management strategies and systems that may be helpful to you or someone else. Joining a community of nurses and instructors will enable success and help waste less time.
Mentoring in nursing is extremely important as it means experienced nurses are able to make new nurses oriented and acclimated with their roles. Both mentor and mentee can benefit from mentorship:
- Better nursing staff retention
- More opportunity for growth and promotion
- Less transition time in learning
- Inclusivity among nursing team
- Improved teaching effectiveness
Take Time To Rest
When you first start your nursing career, you may want to skip breaks to help out. There will be times that you need to skip a break for an urgent matter, but on a normal day you should make sure to take your breaks. Being able to recharge, nourish your body, and take a second to breathe can help you adequately do your job for the rest of the day.
When it comes to time management as a nurse, you have to find what works best for you. Maybe something works for a colleague, but it doesn’t always mean it will work as effectively for you. With the combination of these strategies, or maybe only putting one or two into effect, you can hopefully manage your time successfully and allow you to enjoy your job with less stress and less risk of burnout in the future.