Without question, one of the biggest challenges nurses face (particularly new ones) is managing their time. As a health care professional, it’s critical that you remain at the top of your game at all times while on duty. After all, your patients’ lives could literally depend on it. Unlike other jobs, nurses can’t always plan out their daily schedule. In such a fast-paced, ever-changing environment, nursing professionals must find a way to optimize their time to accomplish what’s on their to-do list efficiently while also managing the unexpected as it occurs.
Easier said than done? Not necessarily. Here are a few tried and true tricks from nurses who have mastered the art of managing their time effectively.
Make a List
It may seem simple, but with the amount of tasks floating around in your mind at any given moment, getting everything down on paper can make it much easier to ensure that everything gets done. Start by listing every task item you can think of and then rearrange in order of priority. Keep your list handy so you can add things and check them off as you go. Be sure to leave a cushion in your schedule for those last-minute, unpredictable things.
In the nursing industry, timing is everything. Those minutes you spend several times a day looking for things you need can and do add up to hours of wasted time. Make it a point to get organized once and for all so that you’ll always know where everything is the moment you need it. Whether it’s your calendar, your chart, your stethoscope or your daily to-do list – determine where you’ll keep what and stick to it.
The beauty of being a nurse in today’s digital age is that we now have access to a wide variety of tools and advanced technologies that can help us do our jobs even better. If you’re not yet doing so, take advantage of the various apps, like Wunderlist, that are designed specifically to help busy professionals like yourself manage their time more efficiently.
Tackling more than one thing at a time on your to-do list is sometimes a great idea. Other times, it only ends up slowing you down more than if you’d just handled them one at a time. It’s especially important that you’re careful about not doing too much at once in certain settings, such as while delivering patient care – when one small mistake could have serious repercussions.
Obviously it’s not always possible to know everything that could happen on any given day. Such is the nursing profession. But there are some instances for which you can comfortably predict what is likely to occur, such as the need for a patient to receive a particular treatment. In those cases, having an idea of what to expect in advance will allow you to save time by preparing ahead.
You may have every intention of tackling everything on your task list or handling everything that comes up throughout the course of the day, but that’s not a practical way to approach nursing. In reality, at least in most situations, nursing is about working effectively as a team, and that often means knowing what tasks and when to delegate to others. If someone offers to help, let them.
It may seem counterintuitive, but stepping away from the action for a few minutes several times a day can do wonders for your productivity. Instead of eating at your desk, go out and grab a bite or a cup of coffee. Take a walk around outside your medical facility and enjoy a little bit of fresh air. By giving your mind a break, you’ll allow yourself to recharge so you can return even more tuned in and ready to take on whatever comes your way.
These are just a few of the many creative ways nurses can optimize the use of their valuable time. Another time-savvy idea is choosing online medical certification over traditional classroom options. To learn more about this convenient, cost-effective and timely option, click here.