Nurses have to do and be a lot of things and have a lot of skills and knowledge. Although all added together, everything is just as important as everything else – all of it combined is what makes for a great nurse – we’re going to discuss how crucial time management is for nurses and how they can get better at it.
The better a nurse is at managing their time, the less stressed they will be, the more organized they will be, and the better care they can take of their patients. Nursing is certainly a demanding career path, but with good time management skills, it doesn’t have to be an impossibly difficult one.
When a nurse can learn how to manage their time effectively, they will get a lot more out of their career and will be able to overcome challenges much more easily. Just some of the benefits of better time management include more productivity, better efficiency, achieving more career goals, more opportunities to advance, and, as we’ve said, less stress. With all this in mind, read on to discover some of the best time management tips for nurses so you can make the most of your nursing career. </span
Set Achievable Goals
If you want to be as productive and as successful as possible in your nursing career, you need to have both short and long-term goals in place. When you can do this, you’ll have a much clearer path to where you want to go, what you want to do, and how you’re going to do it.
The issue that nurses who are not good at managing their time have is that they focus so much on their here and now and ensuring they get everything done that they forget to think about their long-term goals. They might even have problems reaching their shorter-term goals. The issue is that the long-term goals are where their career will go, and therefore they are crucial to working towards. If you are constantly fighting fires and going from one task to another with no planning, meaning you can’t look much further ahead than the end of the day, those goals might not get any closer, and you might find you are on the wrong path altogether when you do finally get a minute to look at what you are doing and how far you’ve come.
If you can ensure your goals are achievable, this is a good start to ensuring better time management. If the goals are something you know you can do or you know how to get the skills to achieve them, you’ll be more motivated to find the time to work towards them.
It’s also a worthwhile endeavor to plan out each day in advance. It’s true you won’t know precisely what you’ll be doing, but trying to block out time for each element of the day, including anything you need to do to move forward or reach another goal, can help you stay on track. You’ll need to be flexible – a nurse’s day is never set in stone – but having this to-do list is far better than just trying to get things done without any plan at all.
Routinization is a specific way of working that many people find enhances their time management skills and ensures not only do they get everything done that they need to do, but that they even free up some time as well.
To implement routinization, you have to repeat the processes you know work for you and do so efficiently,which makes the most of the time you have. When you do this, you can ignore anything that takes up too much of your time, knowing that the way you work is what gets the most done. The repeating aspect of this way of working makes the most difference, and it’s this that, once you have it in place, is easiest to follow. It will become a habit over time, and once that happens, you’ll be able to be even more efficient and productive, especially when you factor in eliminating any tasks and even planning that are just not necessary.
You’ll already be engaging in routinization in your life without knowing it. Your wake-up and bedtime routines will be part of this – you’ll do the same things in the same order every morning and night. If you can get to the stage where most of your work – the non-urgent parts, of course – can be made into a routine, you can stick to it. You’ll find that everything becomes easier, and there is room to grow, giving you the flexibility to help with emergencies and other non-routine tasks as they appear.
Try Cognitive Stacking
As we’ve said, your routinization has to be flexible enough to allow for the non-routine requirements of a nurse’s day-to-day working life. How can this be done when the idea behind routinization is that it makes the most predictable elements of your job easier to cope with? The answer is cognitive stacking. Cognitive stacking sounds complex, but it’s a simple process that allows nurses to manage their time better and set priorities.
When you implement cognitive stacking, you will look at each task – routine or otherwise – and determine how much of a priority it is. You’ll think about what level of care is needed for each job, how to give that care most efficiently, and how you can use the time you have to do the work required.
By taking into account the resources you have (which might include time and personnel), the level of seriousness of the patient’s needs, and the other jobs you have to do, you can easily determine exactly where your energies need to be spent, ensuring you allocate the time you have in the best way possible. In some cases, this will mean doing the work yourself. In others, it will mean delegating. Each situation will depend on all the factors mentioned above and your routinization schedule. This is why routinization and cognitive stacking should ideally work together for the best results.
Take Time To Rest
Nurses are at high risk for burnout, essentially becoming so stressed and exhausted by the challenging work that they cannot work at all and have to take a lot of time off to recover. In many cases, the problem is so severe that the nurse chooses to look for another career path. This is a shame for them as they must have wanted to become a nurse in the first place, and their dreams now need to end in that regard because there is a nursing shortage, and the more nurses who leave the profession, the worse this problem becomes.
However, it is also a problem if a nurse tries to keep working when they are suffering from burnout. Patient care can suffer, quality can quickly reduce, and the nurse’s mental health can suffer, leading to depression and anxiety. Thereforeburnout must be reduced and ideally eliminated as far as possible; good time management can assist with this.
If you want to have better time management, which will lead to less stress and less chance of burnout, the best thing to do is take breaks and factor those breaks into your daily routine. Just a few minutes away from the busyness of the hospital department, ideally outside to get some fresh air and exercise, can be enough to reset your mind and re-focus your attention. Not only will this make you less susceptible to burnout, but it will also make you more efficient and productive. Even if you feel that taking a break would slow you down and make everything take longer, the truth is that working without a break will slow you down much more. Having a rest and coming back to things refreshed is much more effective.
As much as you might want to, every nurse must understand they simply cannot – and should not – do everything themselves. The role of a nurse is a busy one, and on some days, it might feel non-stop (which is when taking the vital breaks we mentioned above is so critical to your health and well-being as well as your time management and productivity). However, non-stop work is bad for your physical and mental health and should not be welcomed.
Of course, people will always get sick and will always need a nurse’s help, so what can be done? If taking breaks is so important and prioritizing is essential, what about the additional work that has to be done but that, if you are being sensible and practicing good time management, you cannot do? This is where delegation becomes not just a good idea but a necessary one.
Delegation – in other words, passing some of your work to others – is a skill that will help you immensely as a nurse. It might be hard to let go of some control and ask others to help you, but this is expected in nursing. Nurses work in a very tight-knit working environment, and teamwork is a crucial element of that. Therefore, being able to ask your colleagues to help you with a patient or do a job on your behalf because you are doing something else – and both are equally important – is a great idea. You’ll find people are more than happy to do what you ask if they can, just as if they were to ask you and you can do it. You would help them.
This gives and take within the nursing profession is what makes it run smoothly. It’s a balancing act between not delegating enough work and delegating too much so that you essentially don’t have anything to do. Neither is ideal, as one will lead to burnout and the other to boredom (as well as your colleagues noticing, which will cause tension within the working environment).
In order to delegate properly, you’ll need to make your goals, plans, and routines, as we’ve mentioned above. At this point, you’ll know what you can and can’t achieve, and you’ll be able to ensure you can delegate in the right way at the right time to ensure your own mental health as well as offer a better level of care for your patients.
Enroll In Online Studies
When you have so much to do as a nurse and your time management is already difficult, the idea of adding more to your schedule might seem impossible. However, if you want to progress in your career, you’ll need to do more studying, and of course, you’ll have to obtain additional qualifications. How can you fit this in? It seems like a difficult catch-22 situation where you need to go back to school to move ahead but you don’t have the time to do it because you’re already working hard. You might feel stuck and perhaps even demoralized as a result.
This would certainly have been an issue in the past, but today there is a solution that will solve the problem once and for all. You can take an online course if you want additional qualifications to move forward with your nursing career. Enrobing in something like family nurse practitioner online programs means you can study and work at the same time. This is because you don’t have to attend a physical school with set times for lectures and a requirement for a certain number of hours of study each week. Instead, you can work at your own pace in your spare time, ensuring that neither your work nor your studies will suffer.
Have A Support System
As a nurse, you should be able to rely on the support of your colleagues and managers; as we’ve said, this is a big part of nursing, and the system would not work without this kind of working environment; teamwork is essential.
Having this support system around you is wonderful, but so is having your own support system outside of work. Family and friends can help you make the most of your time and ensure you have a good work-life balance. Listen to their advice and try to see things from their perspective, as they will always have your best interests in mind, and their ideas might be useful from a time management point of view.