Nurses very often feel pulled in a thousand different directions. Especially in busy healthcare facilities and nursing homes. Your patients all hit the call button at the same time, meds are waiting to be doled out, reports, and general instructions need to be given, and you still haven’t had a break. There has to be a better way to manage your time, rather than having the time manage you. That’s why time management skills for nurses are essential.
Time management skills don’t just come naturally. They’re usually developed through experience. New nurses are typically taken under the wing of a more seasoned coworker who can advise and offer those tips and practices gained via years of experience. These invaluable practices help many-a-nurse to enjoy a more efficient shift and a rewarding career.
5 Tried and True Time Management Techniques
You don’t have to wait for that sage and seasoned coworker to take you under their wing. We have 5 tried and true tips, from those who have been there, to help you incorporate better time management skills into your shifts, so that you don’t get rattled, exhausted, and feel like you’re time is spent playing catch up.
Learning how to set your priorities will definitely be the biggest challenge in your quest for more effective time management skills. All that you learned in nursing school, and all that was stressed to you about prioritizing in patient care settings, isn’t all that easy to apply once you’re “in the trenches”.
Prioritizing means you need to pause and ask yourself some basic questions:
- What is your first action item, and why? New nurses especially find themselves reacting to every task, question, or patient need. Stop for a beat and decide:
- Which action, task or need is most important right now? Obviously patient care is first and foremost, but your administrative duties are also crucial. Weigh the outcome and ask yourself:
- What will happen if I don’t act immediately? Can the administrative work wait until your patient is tended? Is there charting that must be done immediately, medication that needs to be given right away? View the urgency of these matters and decide:
- What is in the best interest of the patient?
Prioritizing this way may seem to eat up the precious time you’re trying to manage, but it soon will become routine. Learning to prioritize is one of the most effective time management skills for nurses.
Each patient is unique and comes to your healthcare facility with a unique set of circumstances. That being said, there are many times when you, as a nurse, know what your patient is going to ask, or need, in advance, because you’ve been there with other patients. You can assume after meal time your patient may request assistance using the rest room. Learn to anticipate what your patient may need in terms of comfortability, try to combine tasks.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Technology is extremely beneficial to nurses. Learn to utilize your technology in every way you are able. This will improve your administrative duties and lessen the time you spend away from your patient. If you’re already familiar with the technology used in your department start incorporating it as one of your time management skills. If you aren’t quite sure of all the ways certain software can help you in your daily tasks, ask about a class, or how to become more proficient in the technology employed by your facility.
The Shiftboard scheduling app is particularly helpful in organizing your workload and a great tool for improving your time management skills. Knowing in advance how many shifts you have coming up, being able to choose the best shifts for your schedule, and having ways to communicate with coworkers, in the event you need to swap shifts, cuts down on so much wasted time and energy. Shiftboard also allows you to manage your timesheet and stay in contact with your supervisor for approval.
When you arrive early to your shift you afford yourself a moment to reflect on the tasks ahead of you. That way you begin your day with a clear mind and better-prepared. Your coworkers will appreciate your prompt arrival on the floor as well.
You’re allowed breaks for a reason, and it’s one of the most efficient time management skills. Use that time to step away from the fray. Use the restroom, grab a protein bar, and a bottle of water, breathe, and maybe gaze out a window while you collect your thoughts. Shore yourself up to be the best you can be for the rest of your shift.
Time Management Skills Decrease Your Stress
Practice these tips to make your next shift much more efficient and far less stressful. As you continue to incorporate these effective time management tips into your day they will become second nature. Not only will you reap the rewards, but your coworkers will be impressed, and most of all, your patients will benefit.