Important time management tips for nurses

Becoming a registered nurse is an immensely rewarding experience, but it does come with a particularly hectic schedule. Experienced nurses have mastered time management for ensuring their day is as productive as possible. For anyone getting started or transitioning to a new hospital or practice, however, these tips may be very important for establishing a good daily rhythm.

Set up your schedule in advance
Every day is different as a nurse, and so planning a schedule in advance may be easier said than done. Things can change very rapidly, but according to Nurse Together, visualizing your day in advance and setting up a loose schedule can go a long way.

It may be helpful to estimate how long your daily tasks will take and build a schedule around that. You will likely spend your day responding to patients, so knowing how much time you need for your own administrative or personal chores can be helpful for shuffling your day on the fly. Nurse Together reported that this can also be helpful for making sure you don't forget anything.

Don't let your daily tasks overwhelm you.Don't let your daily tasks overwhelm you.

Not only is it a good idea to try and build a loose schedule ahead of a busy day, but American Nurse Today stated that prioritizing is a critical skill for all young nurses. Older, more experienced nurses may be able to help establish what tasks take priority over others.

If you can identify the most important activities a day in advance, it becomes easier to make sure they get done early in the day. Select where and when certain things will need to get done so when you do find free time you can make an informed decision for accomplishing any goals.

Minimize distractions
Adjusting to any workplace can take a bit of practice, and often that includes finding ways to avoid distractions. And odds are the most distracting thing at work is your cell phone.

It would be very unprofessional to play around on your phone during normal hours, but finding time to check your text messages or email during a break or lunch is a way to find screen time without letting it interfere with your work. Keeping a steady pace throughout the day is critical for making the hours go by smoothly and not getting overwhelmed or too tired, and small breaks can be helpful when appropriate.

Don't let interruptions slow you down
Nurse Together stated that interruptions may be difficult to avoid, but making sense of them is important for having a productive day. Socializing with other staff members, that pesky cell phone and other interruptions can derail even the most precise schedule.

"Interruptions can derail even the most precise schedule."

Find ways to politely shoot down a chatty co-worker and also integrate breaks and moments to relax in your day to lower stress. So long as your work is your top priority, it can be OK to be social or find time to de-stress. 

As a nurse, you need to prepare for the unexpected and that may include unforeseen issues with coworkers and peers, not just distractions related to patients.

Keep things organized
Staying on top of your paperwork and personal belongings is a great way to save time and avoid stress. Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day to organize yourself. Keeping things clean and ready to use will help you maintain your schedule and improve your outcomes overall.

Whenever possible, ask your coworkers for help or support. Similarly, it is OK to say no to a request if you are feeling overwhelmed. Proper time management means knowing your strengths and limitations, and often that may mean bringing in extra help.

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