Time management for nurses is a must-have skill. Nursing is one of the most important jobs a person can do, but it’s also one of the most demanding.
If you don’t learn how to manage time in your nursing career, the dangers, both to your patients and to yourself, will soon become all too apparent.
With so much to do, so many requests to consider and so many demands to be met, you have to learn to manage yourself and your responses.
The importance of time management can’t be understated, but that doesn’t make it the most thrilling topic in the world!
With that in mind, try this '3P' formula to help you manage your time, whether you’re practicing or training...
‘Plan, Pick and Play’ Time Management for Nurses
Nursing isn’t so much about getting things done as getting the most important things done. You have to prioritize and learn how to be assertive in your dealings with managers, patients and colleagues.
Planning invariably saves you time.
Once you’ve planned what you want to do, you’re free to focus on actually doing those tasks. You spend far less time deciding what to do during your shift because planning means you have a clear idea before you start.
A few minutes spent planning your shift is worth the effort in minutes saved, and the same goes for your own time.
Obviously you’ll spend a significant chunk of your shift responding to requests and demands that you deem important enough to act on, but to a degree, that’s the nature of the job.
However, when you’re not on call, you have an opportunity to do what you planned. If you know how to prioritize work you’ll have a finite list of things to work on. When you’re with patients is the time you have to adopt a more picky mindset.
How do you pick your next tasks?
There are two ways of doing this:
Firstly, whenever you get given tasks that don’t need a genuinely quick response, plan to do them during your next shift. When you’re done, you’ll have a list of things to do during the next one. That is the extent of your task list.
Unless it’s deadline driven, what you do first is less important than the fact that you actually do something on each ongoing task or project. If you want to pick what to do, prioritize according to urgency -- at first.
Obviously time management for nurses revolves around the second and most important part of the job -- patient care.
This is where prioritizing becomes much more immediate. Patient care priorities can alter almost immediately, so decisions have to be made in a matter of seconds.
A good question to ask yourself if you have to pick what to do is…“What are the likely consequences of me not dealing with this?”
This could mean immediately, the next few minutes or during the shift, but, whatever the time frame, it’s an effective way to improve time management for nurses under pressure.
How do you recharge away from all your responsibilities at work and at home? Do you make the most of it or have you got into the habit of putting yourself last?
Planning, or knowing what to do at work, is the first of this 3Ps guide, but this applies equally to your personal life as well.
Invest some time to work out what you want to do using SMART goal setting. Having something to look forward to is essential for your well-being, and for those around you.
So, pick and plan your play!
It’s unrealistic to think that time management for nurses can be permanently perfect, but it can certainly get better for most healthcare professionals.
The most effective way to improve your time management is to be constantly aware of how you’re managing time.
Anyone can get better at learning time management. Those who do soon notice the difference it makes to their quality of life.