5 Time Management Tips for Busy Nurses
Nursing is a demanding job and it can often feel as though there are not enough hours in the day to complete all of your tasks. Unlike other jobs, priorities can change rapidly - when a patient is in urgent need of your attention, your to-do list can change rapidly. The hectic pace of the job is one of the reasons that many nurses get burned out and stressed out. Using time management techniques designed with nurses in mind is one way to make your life a little easier, as well as getting more done! Time management strategies can be broken down into five strategies:
1.Plan your day out in advance. Many nurses say that while planning is a good idea, their days are too unpredictable to plan. However, nurses who do plan their day will find that they get more done with less stress. It is difficult to plan your day because your environment can change rapidly, and much of your day is spent responding to the needs of patients. However, if you plan out the tasks you have to get done in a day they can become more manageable. Make a list of everything you must get done today. Then, make a note of how long it will take and rank the jobs in order of importance. Start looking at tasks and seeing when you will have time in your day to get one or two items done, and when you have a few minutes, complete a task that you can get done in that time. You will also feel better knowing that you are not forgetting anything!
2.Focus on the most important activities first. When you make the list above, also focus on the items with the highest priority. Remember, you may not be able to get everything done but by completing the most important tasks, you will be less stressed. Also, keep in mind that if nothing is going on right now, you should be working on one of your tasks because due to the unpredictable nature of your job, you can’t be sure that you will have time later. As you complete tasks, check them off on your list. It will give you a sense of accomplishment and make your stress level drop.
3.Don’t let interruptions disrupt your day. Nurses have to deal with many interruptions, many of which can’t be helped. However, there are many interruptions that are not so important. Interruptions like long non-work related chats with other staff members, checking non-work email, or other non-essential tasks can get you off track quickly. Make time to relax, visit and do things to lower your stress, but don’t let those things become more important than your work.
4.Keep yourself and your workspace organized. Being organized saves time. If you have a desk, spend a few minutes at the end of the day to put papers where they belong so that you can find them when you need them. At the beginning of the day, make sure all equipment is clean and ready for use. This will lower your stress level and make your day easier.
5.Learn to delegate tasks. Remember that you can’t do it all, nor should you have to. When you need help, ask. If someone asks you to do something that you don’t have time, it’s OK to say no. Remember, time management is about making your day easier and more productive!
Nurses and Parenting: The Morning Rush Schedule
Nurses' morning schedule is not like that of a 9-5’er. Dragging the kids out of bed before the sun has even risen can be a daunting challenge, and one that comes with the vocation of being a nurse. I know only too well how hard it is to get two kids up and ready to face the world! Here is my approach to making life easier:
■Prepare everything the night before. I make lunches, lay out clothing, and even get the breakfast items ready, so that getting up is like piecing together a jigsaw: everything falls into place very easily.
■Kids work well with routine, so allow them to play a pivotal part in the morning’s events. If they are old enough, encourage them to get dressed independently and be responsible for getting school supplies ready. Praise them regularly, and they will love being your 'little helper’.
■Set your alarm early. Allowing plenty of time to get organized in the morning is crucial. There is nothing worse than running short of time! I find that if I am running late, I inevitably forget something important. I set my alarm 15 minutes before I actually need to get up, that way I can shout to the kids and get them motivated, allowing plenty of time to get ready in a calm and organized fashion.
■Share the tasks with your partner. In this modern age, the household responsibilities are not just the responsibility of a mom. Get into a routine with your partner and share the chores. Let them know if you are feeling stressed and do not be afraid to ask for help. If you do not ask, then you will not get it!
■Don’t rush. The morning rush is only a rush if you allow it to be. Why is it that things seem so frantic in the mornings? If you get into a good routine that everyone is familiar with, then things should flow like clockwork. I never allow others to dictate what will cause me stress. Be in charge of the portions of your day that you control, starting from the minute you wake up! From the moment you get to work, what little control you may have had will probably go out the window! Expect that!
Remember, nurses are naturally organized beings. If it means running a military-style regime, then so be it. But on your days off, relax and throw that routine out the window!