Best Practices in Nursing Time Management

Author: Lee Nelson

Registered nurse Sandi Thorson works 12-hour shifts. This South Dakota nurse is also a wife, mother, grandmother, and master's degree student in nursing administration.   She taught us some of her best tricks for keeping track of time as a nurse. Find out how she deals with everything by reading on.

Seven Ways Nurses Can Better Manage Their Time

In order to balance their work and personal lives, nurses can benefit from the following knowledge, traits, and advice.

The Proper Method of Delegation

There's a good reason why healthcare is a group effort. Nurses can't possibly be involved in every facet of their patients' care. And that's fine There are other members of the healthcare team, such as other nurses, who can help out as well.

There is a fine art to making the most of a competent nursing assistant, who can greatly improve conditions on the floor. North Carolina nurse with 15 years of experience Christy Golden warns against passing off all the grunt work to an underling.  

Relationships are at the heart of nursing, and that includes your interactions with your CNAs. You should only delegate to a nurse if the task at hand requires their specialized skills.

You're showing your nursing assistant that you're not going to let them do all the dirty work, which will save both of you time in the long run. In the long run, this fosters cooperation that will benefit everyone. ”

2. Get there early so you have time to do the little things.

Ten minutes spent getting to work early can pay dividends all day long.

Before starting her shift, Golden says she gathers any basic supplies she might need, such as scissors, tape, saline flushes, alcohol swabs, pens, and medicine cups.

Anything to prevent you from having to go up the hall to get it later, she said.

Nurses have less say over their work environment than other professionals. Nothing is guaranteed in a 12-hour shift. As a result, taking a few minutes now to maintain order can pay dividends in the long run.  

Third, the nurse's best friend is prioritization.

According to Nurse Thorson, the key to effective time management is learning to think critically and establish priorities.

She recommends that nurses practice prioritization by asking themselves four questions that will help them put things in their proper order:

  1. Why and what will I do first
  2. Which action is more crucial, and why does it deserve priority?
  3. Ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen if I don't do it right now?"
  4. What is crucial from the perspective of the patient

Time management is taught in this way at many nursing schools, but nurses should keep in mind that they cannot accomplish everything on their to-do list for the day (with the exception of administering medication to a patient).  

Certain responsibilities must be met. However, some tasks, such as less urgent administrative work, may be deferred until the next day or shift. ”

Skilled nurses understand that caring for patients is a continuous shift. You should put in as much effort as you can, learn to multitask, and practice better time management in preparation for the next shift that will relieve you later today or in the morning.

Many chores can probably wait unless they are directly related to the administration of medication or the safety of the patient.  

Tip #4: Stop and Refresh When You Can (Even if You're Not Tired)

When beginning their careers, many nurses are taken aback by the reality that no two days in the nursing profession are ever alike. A simple phone call can transform an otherwise mundane day into a whirlwind of exhausting activity.   

So, if you find yourself with some downtime while updating patient charts, why not grab a bite to eat? A real break might not come until much later, if at all. The lunch you brought and left in the break room at the start of your shift may never see the light of day.

5. Anticipate Requirements

Whenever there is a lull in the action, Golden says she enjoys asking patients if they would like a drink of water or juice.

She emphasized that patients "do not like to feel like they are trouble." It's often more effective to ask for specifics than to ask, "Is there anything else you need?" Unless you specifically ask, patients may not be aware of their own needs. ”

Doing these minor things while things are slow can prevent you from being needed in an emergency in another room

Similar tactics are employed by Thorson.

Because of this, you can say something like, "I'll try to anticipate the patient's needs and bring everything I think they may ask for in the room with me." "

So that she doesn't have to make multiple trips in a short period of time, Thorson will try to schedule assessments for a newborn and her mother at the same time.   

When a nurse gives Thorson a report, he or she also writes down the nurse's contact information in case Thorson has any follow-up questions.  

Finding a happy medium between work and personal life is crucial.

A twelve-hour shift is a very long day. Workdays can easily reach 14 hours or more when you factor in getting ready, commuting, and staying late to present that complex report.

Having a family and children can make that difficult, as Thorson points out. It's all up to how well you can plan things out." Shift work can be stressful, so it's important to find ways to relieve that stress outside of work, whether through physical activity, enjoyable pursuits, or social interactions. ”

She expresses hope that your loved ones will be understanding of your erratic work schedule and work around it by doing things like scheduling family events for times when you're free.

Thorson explains that she values quality time with her husband and her children and grandchildren above all else on the weekends.

I do my best to get daily walks in, but I don't always succeed. "

Thorson also tries to take short breaks from her studies by going for short drives or trips to the grocery store.

7. Enjoy It

Working as a nurse can be stressful, so it's important to take breaks and do something fun to de-stress and avoid burnout.

To paraphrase what Thorson says, "I've been known to do a cartwheel or two in the hallway when nobody from management is around." "I just try to keep a good attitude and do the best I can," she said. ”

Not all nurses perform cartwheels as part of their job duties. There's a lot of stress involved in nursing, and every nurse needs to find a way to relax and unwind.

Time Management and Stress Reduction after It's Too Late

Time management is essentially stress management. It's usually too late to start looking for ways to save time when you realize you're already swamped.

Everyone has a breaking point and a unique set of coping mechanisms for when they reach it.

  • When Thorson begins to feel overwhelmed by stress, she tries to decompress by having a short conversation with a coworker. "When I feel overwhelmed, I try to examine the source of my anxiety and come up with potential solutions. If things get really bad, I'll just go to the restroom or take a short walk around the building.  
  • I've been to the chapel a few times myself. I accept the fact that there will be times when I am not able to complete everything because I know that I have given it my all.
  • "Even if you only have a minute, it can make a huge difference." You have the option of using the restroom, moving to a different floor, or taking a short stair climb. Instead of drinking your 18th cup of coffee, she recommends taking a short break.
  • She says, "My husband and daughter have stepped up to the plate at home to handle household issues so I can focus on my schoolwork."

A career in nursing can be fulfilling, but it also comes with a never-ending stream of obligations, pressures, and requirements.

Nurses can have more satisfying careers and personal lives if they take the time to develop and consistently apply time management skills during their workdays.

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