Any profession in the healthcare sector is bound to be fast-paced and demanding, and this is especially true following the current pandemic situation. The increased demand for healthcare workers to improve patient care following COVID-19 has made the job more challenging.
Most healthcare workers, nurses, in particular, find themselves overwhelmed by this and often feel that they don’t have enough time to juggle all the duties while also tending to their personal needs. Fortunately, knowing the right time management practices can relieve much of this burden.
With proper time management techniques, nurses can better prioritize and organize their routine tasks, perform them more efficiently, and get time for personal obligations. In fact, a research study by Marymount has proven that nurses who practice effective time management show greater productivity, minimal stress, better efficiency, and greater chances of career advancement.
So how can this be achieved? We have for you some handy tips to improve your time management skills:
1. Choose the right type of education program
It is common for new nurses to enroll in a side educational program, usually an MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) or DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice). Many educational institutes recognize that their students often work side-by-side in a nursing profession and adjust accordingly.
When you look for an education program, make sure to opt for one that offers such a facility. Some courses have flexible schedules, while others are online. An online MSN NP (Nurse Practitioner) program, for instance, saves you a great deal of time when compared to an on-site educational course.
2. Prioritise at the start of the day
All nurses are expected to juggle numerous tasks in one day, and the best able to perform them are those who can prioritize correctly. From taking patient details, giving medication, making health records, attending to critical patients, and providing postoperative care, there is a lot to do, and each task has a specific time frame.
You can handle these correctly if you prioritize them according to importance and urgency. Otherwise, you may waste away all your time on the menial and unimportant duties and have to rush the critical ones.
Initial training includes teaching nurses which types of patients require the most urgent care and which duties can wait. Keeping in mind these tips, begin the day by listing all your responsibilities according to priority. This crucial prioritization strategy is known to reduce stress and improve productivity.
3. Delegate wherever possible
Nursing is no individual venture; it relies significantly on teamwork. You must recognize that you aren’t the only one to do all the jobs; otherwise, you will always have more on your plate than you can handle.
Never be afraid to delegate tasks to your teammates; doing so will help you focus your attention and resources on the more essential duties. However, also make sure to delegate appropriately. The American Nurses Association (ANA) suggests that you consider the care complexity, type, and intensity of supervision needed in the task and the availability of the other worker when delegating.
To delegate appropriately, ensure you assign the right task under the right circumstance to the right person, with the right guidance and supervision. This represents the 5Rs for proper delegation.
4. Don’t forget to take notes
You cannot be on top of all your tasks unless you remember them all in the first place! While some people have exceptional memory and keep all the necessary duties in their minds, not everyone can do it effectively. Keeping a notebook with you will help you track your daily tasks and ensure peace of mind.
You can create a to-do list for each day at the beginning of your shift and add reminders as you go. This list can also act as your prioritization tool. Even if you have your entire day planned out, new and unexpected duties might spring up, so it will be helpful to have a notebook on you at all times.
5. Don’t overwork yourself
It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that you will get the most work done if you don’t waste a second of your shift. Taking a small break will not waste your time; it will only improve your productivity. Many nurses forget to eat and continue throughout the shift without taking a single minute breather.
Such relentless work will only lead to burnout, and your performance will only decline as your body gives up. Sustained stress, long hours, and high-pressure decision-making, with no break in between, can negatively affect your mental, emotional and physical state.
Such exhaustion is only counterproductive to your busy routine; it will reduce the quality of care, lead to mistakes that can be costly, and make you unproductive. Therefore, never forget to incorporate regular breaks; go out to grab a bite, or give yourself some time alone.
Nursing is a complex and challenging profession. Even if shifts are flexible, they are bound to be loaded with tasks that can’t be completed regardless of time. This is why good time management skills are a must.
Go for the right type of education program, delegate tasks where necessary, learn to prioritize, take notes, and give yourself breaks. Follow the highlighted tips above to perform better, improve productivity, and ensure good mental health.