Time Management for Nurses

Time management for nurses helps nurses meet the demands of their job.

With so much to do and many important decisions to make, nursing time management helps you prioritize on the spot.

Nursing is different from many other jobs.

When there is an emergency or a patient needs your attention - you need to be able to adapt and prioritize on the fly!

You can be so busy taking care of others that you forget about taking care of yourself!

Time management for nurses gives you a greater sense of control.

Nursing time management will:

  • provide you with strategies to reduce stress and reduce job burnout
  • increase your efficiency and effectiveness in working with patients and other nursing staff
  • provide you with better work life balance and enable you to spend more quality time with your family and loved ones.

Here I provide five nursing time management strategies that are useful for nurses.

These include:

  1. Plan your workday
  2. Focus on your important and urgent activities
  3. Reduce and manage interruptions in the workplace
  4. Organize yourself and your workspace
  5. Delegate at home and at work

Plan your workday

A common thing I hear from clients or in presentations is "I don’t have time to do any planning,” or “Things change too much to plan!”

But research published in the The Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing shows that when nurses planned their time they felt they got more done with less stress.

Nurses felt a greater sense of control and achievement when they planned.

Abraham Lincoln reportedly once said, “If I had 60 minutes to cut down a tree, I would spend 40 minutes sharpening the ax and 20 minutes cutting it down.”

Time management for nurses can improve with planning your day and week.

Its never easy to plan your day when your work environment changes every minute - often you have to prioritize tasks on the fly.

It is likely that a big chunk of your shift is responding to requests and demands of patients - it goes with the job!

But when you are not on call you can plan and focus on those activities that are important.

It can be difficult to plan when you have so much going on, but a plan will help you to become more effective, organized, and reduce your stress.

What can you to today?

Write down all the activities that you should do today in one of the tried-and-tested Franklin Covey Planners or a personal organizer of your choice.

Getting your tasks down on paper and out of your mind reduces your stress and improves your focus.

Focus on important and urgent tasks

Nurses have alot to do!

This means that you probably won't get through everything so you want to make sure you get through things that are important to your job.

Time Management at Work Activity

Identify those activities that are both important and urgent to you.

Make your own time management matrix for this.

Now track your activities with a time keeping software program - there are plent of free ones to use. Or use a time management log.

If you can spend 5% more time on your high impact activities you notice an increase in productivity and reduced stress levels!

Prioritizing tasks improves time management for nurses.

Once you have a list of activities in your to do list, put your activities in order of priority.

Focus on those tasks that are top priority.

This means you are putting first things first, an important skill for good nursing time management and stress relief.

The 5 minutes of time that it will take you to prioritize your tasks saves you time and reduces your stress.

When you complete your tasks tick them off. This gives you a sense of achievement and closure on the task.

Make a new to do list at the end of the day for work and home.

These time management courses can improve time management in nursing.

Time management for nurses improves if you can reduce or manage interruptions better

It can be hard to focus on your top priorities with the many interruptions that nurses face.

Some of these are essential - emergency situations or the valid demands and requests of patients.

But other interruptions are of less importance!

Being aware of some of these interruptions - long chats with fellow nurses and other low priority tasks - means that reducing interruptions aids time management for nurses.

An important question ask yourself is: "Are these interruptions more important to me than the task that I am doing now?"

While interruptions are fact of working life here are some ways you can manage interruptions and improve nursing time management.

  1. Plan for interruptions.

    Create a time management schedule that has adequate breaks between important tasks.

    This buffer time allows you to manage some of your interruptions appropriately.

  2. Block your time for high impact activities.

    Nurses have emergencies and demands and requests of patients they need to attend to.

    However, your entire time at work is not just reactive.

    You need to seek opportunities to be proactive in ensuring that you make time for you high impact activities.

    Try to block out an hour per shift for and schedule your most important tasks with minimal interruptions.

    When working with clients I have found that these time management tips alone help them to focus on their top priority tasks.

    Some of the managers and teams that I have worked with have found quite inventive ways to reduce interruptions.

Even though nursing situations will arise that demand your immediate attention, having a plan of your work day is like a compass that helps you to refocus on your top priorities after the emergency.

Organize yourself and your nursing workspace

Being organized saves you time.

Did you know that the average worker spends six weeks searching for documents they already have.

These documents are in their filing system, email folders, on their desk, or in their computer system.

Having an organized workspace, whether it is a desk or a storage area will save you time in trying to find things.

Being organized also reduces stress!

If your desk resembles a disaster area and you have not seen it for a while because of the mountains of paperwork here are some tips on how to organize your desk and organize files.

Delegate work and tasks at home and at work

Delegate at work and home to improve time management for nurses

This is a scarey one. Nurses know the benefits of delegation, but it is one of the most underutilized time management techniques.

Delegation frees up your time for more important tasks and is an opportunity to train your subordinates.

Delegation is an important skill that boosts your nursing time management.

So if you are thinking that "nobody can re-bandage better than I", then it is time to think about delegation.

While there are many benefits to delegation, if done poorly, delegation increases stress, reduces nurse morale, and increases absenteeism and burnout.

There are many steps of delegation. Here I talk more about how to delegate effectively.

Time management tips for nurses

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