Few working professionals are busier than nurses! Faced with a multitude of tasks at any given time — on top of the all-important goal of patient care — it can be difficult for even the best-organized nurses to stay organized. If you’re looking for help coming up with a system to better manage your day, these four helpful time management nursing skills can get you started on the right path.
5 Tips to Improve Your Time Management Nursing Skills
Of course, time management is taught in nursing schools for good reason — and it’s certainly worthwhile to take continuing education courses on the topic, too. After all, it’s a skill that needs to be constantly polished, especially at a time when new technologies are entering the workplace. But in the meantime, these 5 tips can help you give you the confidence to better manage your time, right now.
#1: Do what you can to focus
We live in a world of distractions. And all the wonderful solutions offered by technology sometimes leads to even more work. just managing and or even understanding it all. To help focus on what’s important, busy nurses often find it helpful to approach their tasks with a one-thing-at-a-time attitude — that means no multitasking, but focusing on the job you’re doing right now.
It also means doing what you can do cut down on the clutter around you, whether it’s physical clutter or technological clutter (like phones, blaring TVs, or other distractions). And for some nurses, a mantra can help push away temptations to daydream or procrastinate. (For some help, check out these 20 Inspirational Mantras for Nurses from Nurse Buff.)
#2: Don’t forget, you’re part of a team
Nurses often have a take-it-all-on attitude, and can be reluctant to call on others for help. But remember, patient care is a team effort. And sometimes, that means relying on your co-workers to take care of tasks you may not have time to perform — and it means you shouldn’t be afraid to delegate tasks to nursing assistants, if that’s an option. Remember, CNAs are there for a reason!
Of course, it’s also important to respect CNAs and not overburden them with duties. The best approach is to connect with them and find out what their strengths and specialties are, so you can delegate accordingly. Having those conversations helps you not only figure out how CNAs can help, but will also strengthen your own time management nursing skills.
As a side note, registered nurses, LPNs and LVNS often tell us how valuable they find nursing assistants in the workplace. When asked what advice she would give to other nurses, Rosie, an LPN and an October 2020 CareerStaff Clinician of the Month, told us to pay attention to the insights of nursing assistants.
“I have learned so much over the years from the CNAs,” she said. “They are the eyes and ears on the floor with your residents.”
#3: Prioritize prioritization!
We get it — if you were naturally good at prioritization, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article. But that’s also just the point: If you’re really looking to improve your time management nursing skills, then taking the time to educate yourself on this skill is certainly worth your time.
That being said, how can you prioritize the many urgent tasks on your plate any given time on a day-to-day basis? As registered nurse (and active student and working mother) Sandi Thorson told Nurse.org, an effective way to take a quick stock of your priorities is to ask yourself these 4 questions — and then take the appropriate action:
- “What am I going to do first and why?”
- “Which is more important to do, and why is it the most important?”
- “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t do it now?”
- “What is most important to the patient?”
#4: Take breaks when you can … even if you don’t need to
You don’t need us to tell you how busy and hectic the average day can be for a nurse. To manage your time to the best of your abilities and get the most out of the day, it’s important to take breaks when you can. Even if you don’t feel like you need to, it can provide a valuable opportunity not only to rest and regroup, but also to take stock of your priorities day based on what’s happened so far that day.
“Even just a few minutes can really help you out,” as Nurse Thorson told Nurse.org. “You can go to the bathroom, go to another floor, or walk up and down some stairs. Taking that short breather instead of sipping your 18th cup of coffee can refresh you instantly.”
#5: Don’t lose sight of the big picture!
Remember, there’s only so much that one nurse can do during the course of the day, no matter how much of a rock star you are! Of course, it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to meet the needs of your patients. But it’s just as important to avoid wearing yourself out — physically or mentally — trying to do more things than one person can do in one shift.
There’s always another shift coming, after all. Keeping sight of that, and prioritizing the absolutely essential tasks that need to be done until that happens, can be a big advantage as you make your way through your busy day. It can help make it clear which tasks really are the most important, and help put you in a positive mental space, too.
Stress management exercises can help, too. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has an entire program dedicated to stress management for nurses. Called Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ (HNHN), the ANA describes the program as a “a social movement” to address the health of nurses, and, by extension, “the outcomes of patients and patient care.” You can read more about HNHN here.
Time Management Nursing Skills Are Just the Beginning!
As the nation’s leading provider of nurse jobs — from local and full-time to temp, travel, per diem and many more — we at CareerStaff are proud to offer a rich library of resources, tips, opportunities and much more for the millions of nurses working so hard to provide patient care throughout North America.
Remember, you can always find more info about building a better nursing career at the CareerStaff blog, or in the nursing section of our website. And if you’re in the market for a new employment opportunity, check out our nationwide nurse job search to see what’s available!