The nursing profession is a constant whirlwind of activity, and proper time management can be your saving grace when there seem to not be enough hours in the day. These tips can help streamline your processes and lead to a productive workflow.
Time management is one of a nurses’ most important skills to learn. For new nurses, this often proves very difficult. It isn’t taught in nursing school, or anywhere really, yet it can make or break your day. Without proper time management skills, the job of a nurse is far more difficult than it has to be.
Time management is difficult for people in numerous careers to master. In nursing, it is even more pronounced due to the fast paced nature of the job. Developing strong time management skills is something that takes time and experience. While on the job, you will observe the time management skills those who are more senior to you as well as learning from your own experiences.
Some people would say all you need is a plan, but it really isn’t that simple. In nursing, plans go up in smoke every day. You may clock in with an idea of how you will go through your day and the next thing you know everything changes and your plan is useless. In nursing, you have to be fluid. The only thing you can predict is that your day will be unpredictable. So then, what do you do?
The two best things you can do are to be flexible and realistic. Focus on what you can control and manage how you use your time regarding specific actions rather than in terms of an entire day.
Always be aware of what is most important. What has to be done before anything else? Start with your critical patients and work towards those who are least in need of attention. As you visit each patient, determine what their most pressing need is and work your way through your client roster.
Staring the day off organized is one thing; staying organized until the end of your shift is quite another. Focus on small things – keep things you constantly need in places where you can find them. The goal is to cut down on time wasted expending energy unnecessarily.
Lists are a simple way to help you better manage your time. It’s easy to get sidetracked over the course of the day and forget something you intended to do. Lists serve as reminder of what you need to do. As your day and priorities change, you can simply change your list and still stay on task.
Regardless of who you are dealing with, being able to communicate clearly saves you the time of having to repeat yourself as well fixing any errors caused by failing to clearly convey directives.
Don’t be afraid to delegate
There is only one you and you can only do so much. Sometimes, it is necessary to pass off some of your duties to someone else so that everything is done in a timely manner. It isn’t being lazy or bossy, it is ensuring that the job gets done. Asking for help is exercising responsibility.
Take advantage of technology
Use technology to your advantage. Use EMR’s to your best advantage. Find apps that will help best assist you in doing your job more efficiently Use your mobile device to store your lists so they are available to you at all times. Technology is not the enemy, it is the here and now and if you aren’t capitalizing on it, you aren’t giving using all the tools available to help you be your best.
Write and type efficiently
As a nurse, you are constantly charting. You spend a significant portion of your day writing and typing. Make the task as easy as possible for yourself by knowing when you are overdoing it. Being thorough is a necessity, however you have to know what information is not relevant and can be omitted. Know your terminology, use abbreviations when possible. Being efficient in no way means you are skimping on your duties.
Know when to multi-task, and when not to
Know when it is appropriate to multitask, and then do it! It isn’t always wise to multitask, as some jobs require your complete attention and failure to provide that could lead to mistakes. However, there are plenty of times when you can knock out two tasks at once, and when possible, you most definitely should.
Think ahead! Use your experience to anticipate what is going to be needed of you in any given situation and then have a contingency plan in place should it arise. For example, if you know a patient requires a specific procedure, you can plan ahead by gathering all necessary supplies beforehand.
Take your breaks
Being tired leads to making mistakes. You have breaks scheduled because you need them to function at your best. There may be times when you have to delay a break or take a bit of a shorter one than usual, but nevertheless, you need them.
Most important of all, find a system that works for you. We’re all individuals and we all have different needs and different things that personally work for us. Just because something works for a colleague or a book suggests something will work doesn’t mean it will. Through trial and error, develop your own system, and then improve on it whenever possible.