Working in any area of the medical sector can prove to be incredibly fast-paced. With the demand for patient care growing yet waiting times becoming longer, it is not unfamiliar for those working within healthcare to feel as if there are simply not enough hours in the day.
Those who work in the nursing profession often feel the most significant strain. Not only are nurses responsible for providing optimum care to their patients, but they must also ensure that they stay on top of all important documentation while providing support to fellow team members.
With this in mind, it is imperative for each working day to be thoroughly planned out to ensure that all tasks are carried out to the highest standard. Our handy tips for improving time management in nursing will help you improve productivity while keeping stress to a minimum.
How To Improve Time Management In Nursing
Whether you are entering the world of nursing for the first time after finishing your degree or have been in the industry for many years, there is always room for improvement. Even the slightest of lifestyle changes are capable of making a massive difference in what feels like an increasing weight of continuous tasks and responsibilities on your shoulders.
Having spent years as one of the leading healthcare recruitment agencies, we recognise the high demand for those who provide care to the public. We aim to bring enjoyment back to working in the medical industry by providing a variety of different tips to ease stress and allow you to focus on what you do best: providing care to those in need.
- What Is Time Management In Nursing?
- Why Is Time Management Important In Nursing?
- Time Management Skills In Nursing
By definition, time management is the process of organising how your time will be divided between each activity. The goal is always to put together a plan that will boost efficiency and improve productivity, ultimately helping you work smarter.
When working as a locum nurse, time management can be one of the most challenging skills to crack, as no two days are the same, and you can never quite predict what your shift will involve. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that it is impossible. There are many ways that you can stay on top of your responsibilities, even in high-pressure scenarios where time is tight.
Nursing jobs are an incredibly demanding role, which means that remaining proactive will be crucial in ensuring that you can stay cool, calm and collected. Through effective time management, you can begin learning how to balance your patient care and responsibilities with administrative tasks. It will also prove beneficial in terms of personal obligations as if you can leave your shift feeling accomplished and pleased with your progress, you will find it far easier to unwind without having the looming stress of tasks that you did not get to complete. You can find more tips on how to achieve a work-life balance as a nurse in our previous article.
When registering with MLG Healthcare, you will always be paired with a dedicated consultant who will offer ongoing support before, during and after your placement. If you find that time management is becoming a challenge and you are overwhelmed with your role, you are always free to get in touch with your consultant. Alternatively, you can speak with the Clinical Team at MLG Healthcare to discuss options and find a solution to ensure that you continue to enjoy your role.
Building on your time management skills in nursing can take time; however, do not feel underwhelmed if you do not get your day organisation spot on straight away. Much like any other personal skill, this will become easier the more you practice, but in the meantime, we suggest starting your journey with the following tips:
- Punctuality: Arrive At Your Shift Early
- Proactiveness: Take Plenty Of Notes
- Prioritisation: Prioritise Your Jobs
- Delegation: Don’t Be Afraid To Delegate Tasks
- Self-Care: Always Take Your Break
- Communication: Regularly Talk With Patients
- Patience: Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
- Organisation: Avoid Trying To Multitask
You would be surprised how much of a positive impact even an extra ten minutes to prepare can have on your day. Aim to get into the routine of arriving at work a little earlier than the time you are scheduled to begin your shift; most opt for around 10-20 minutes early. While that additional few minutes in bed to snooze may sound rather tempting, choosing a slightly earlier start is guaranteed to help your day run considerably smoother.
By arriving at work slightly early, you allow yourself the opportunity to grab a cup of tea, sit down and thoroughly read through all reports and handover sheets before the hustle and bustle of nursing life begins. Starting off the day feeling flustered and in a rush is only going to cause a snowball effect, throwing you off course for the remainder of the day.
As waking up a little earlier as opposed to getting extra sleep isn’t the most appealing of tasks, we suggest considering purchasing a gentle wake-up call alarm. Designed specifically for those who would like to gradually wake up with ease rather than a sudden burst of sound, opting for a quiet alarm clock is ideal for easing you into earlier mornings. Glam have put together a helpful guide to gentle wake-up calls, so it is most definitely worth a read!
Although some people have exceptional memory skills and are capable of keeping mental reminders throughout the day, it is always highly beneficial to take physical notes for peace of mind. Working in the medical industry means that no two days will be the same, and while you may think that your day is entirely planned out, it is more than likely a host of extra tasks will creep up.
Keeping a small notepad and pen set in your uniform’s pocket at all times is ideal for jotting down any reminders or creating a to-do list to work your way through during your shift. Any tasks left over can be placed in a handover for the next set of staff to accomplish when they arrive.
Pen Heaven have a fantastic range of leather journal and pen sets guaranteed to keep you super organised!
Many different duties are included in a nurse’s daily routine, from taking patient samples and administrating medication to writing records and providing pre or post-operation support. One of the most effective ways to manage time is to build a list of tasks and organise them in order of priority.
Regardless of whether you are a new or experienced nurse, you will be familiarised with the types of patients requiring urgent care and the tasks that will have potentially fatal consequences if not carried out immediately; these should always take the top position on your priorities list. Aim to keep in mind an estimated amount of time that you think each task will take to ensure that all high priorities are completed before the end of your shift. Taking a strategic approach to prioritising tasks is a proven way of reducing stress while increasing productivity. Nothing gives more of a sense of relief than the ability to cross another job off the list!
It can often prove somewhat tricky to achieve a balance between not always saying yes and taking on everyone else’s extra tasks yet still remaining a team player. An essential aspect of working within a team is the ability to delegate tasks to those most fitting to the role, so don’t be afraid to take responsibility and begin allocating to other members of the team. If you have critical tasks that must be completed immediately, do not feel as if you sound selfish by asking someone else if they mind taking on the less important tasks in the meantime.
On a super busy day where there is a continuous flow of tasks, it can feel like the best solution to ensure that all work is completed is to skip your lunch and carry on working. However, this is never the case and will cause more harm than good. Although your break does give you some extra working time, it is almost guaranteed to cause you to burn out and become even more unproductive by the end of the day, especially if you haven’t eaten anything.
Your body and mind need time to unwind and re-energise; otherwise, they will no longer be capable of working to their full ability. The more stressed you are, the less in control you will be, so this is the perfect time to take a breather and a quick break away from the workplace. Taking your break allows you to clear your mind, collect your thoughts and have a bite to eat, allowing you to return to work ready to take on any challenge.
During your break, we recommend snacking on a healthy snack packed with nutrients. Self.com have put together an excellent guide to dietitian-approved lunches guaranteed to keep you energised.
When working in nursing positions like a fast-paced hospital or doctor’s surgery, it can be easy to get caught up in paperwork, administering medicine and transferring information between professionals. This can mean that you can begin to lose touch with the real reason as to why you chose this particular career path – your passion for providing care, support and assistance to those in need. On even the busiest of days, don’t forget to talk and listen to your patients, get to know them and show the compassion that you are lucky enough to hold as a key personality trait.
Conversing with your patients will not only bring joy and the rewarding feeling back to your role but can also work towards your advantage when managing your time. Talking personally to patients will allow you to grasp an idea of how they are feeling, any changes in their condition and their priorities, all of which will help you to organise your day.
Just like any other aspect of your job role, time management takes practice to perfect. Being thrown straight into the deep end and beginning your career in a sector such as A&E comes alongside a whirlwind of emotions, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Take every obstacle as a learning curve and use weaknesses to your advantage to set goals for the future.
Many of the tasks that you will be faced with will be completely new to you, so it will be hard to manage your time efficiently in the initial stages because you will only have a vague idea of how long tasks will take. Don’t complete tasks half-heartedly in the hope that you will be able to tick more points off of the ‘to-do’ list. Take your time, learn thoroughly, and you will instantly notice your progression.
Understanding when and where it is an appropriate decision to multitask can be difficult, which means it is recommended not to attempt to carry out too many tasks at once until you feel confident. Multitasking can prove to be incredibly beneficial when done well yet potentially disastrous when attempted during a task that requires your sole attention.
It has been scientifically proven that when the brain is trying to alternate between tasks, it tends to push aside information from one and replace sections with points from the other, causing details to become muddled. For example, when preparing medication for an individual patient, do not try to skim over other patients’ notes during the process to save time; a crossover can quickly occur, causing a patient to receive the incorrect type or dosage of medicine, risking their health.
While combining more than one task can appear to save time, do not put too much pressure on yourself to try to master the art of multitasking; the medical industry has too many associated risks if the information is crossed over. As mentioned previously, prioritise each task and carry them out one by one at your highest ability.
Time Management For Nurses Made Easy!
Whether you’re working on a temporary basis as a locum nurse or have a full-time role in a healthcare facility, learning how to manage your time effectively is vital. With the constant hustle and bustle of working in healthcare jobs, it can often be tricky to stay on track and avoid becoming overwhelmed by the fast-paced requirements. Using a combination of our eight top tips and ensuring that you spend time in advance planning your day is guaranteed not only to reduce stress but also to improve productivity.
We hope that our time management tips have come in handy; please feel free to share them with your colleagues on social media!