As nurses, we all understand the importance of time management while caring for our patients. Effective time management helps us get more done more efficiently and on time. Not only that, with nurses that are organized, are more self-confident, motivated, and have less stress at work. Good time management is an essential skill all nurses need to have in order to provide competent care (Aggar, Bloomfield, Thomas, & Koo, 2017; Maryniak, 2019).
Tips to improve time management
Planning for and anticipating (present and future) tasks or activities will help you stay organized and on top of your shift. Keeping a neat workspace free of clutter (including not having multiple patient charts open at the same time) helps you keep track of your tools (pens, stethoscope, report sheets, etc) and makes it easier to quickly find what you’re looking for. A really helpful tool that you can use to manage your time is a “Nurse Report Sheet”also known as a nurse brain sheet. It is a type of worksheet with designated sections that help you remember important information about your patients. In the sections, you can enter in lab values, new orders, medication due times, vitals and other important information to remember throughout your shift. You can create your own report sheet using word processing software. If you don’t have the time to create one, you can search the web for a free report sheet or purchase a professionally designed one on marketplaces like Etsy. If using a paper nurse report sheet is too old school for you, there are apps such as our very own NurseBrain app that keep your patient assignment and tasks organized.
Gather All Supplies
Before you begin a procedure, you should list and gather all the equipment and supplies you will need for that specific procedure beforehand. Especially if it is a time consuming task like changing a PICC line dressing or pushing a vesicant for example. If you’re unfamiliar with a particular procedure, refer to your department’s protocol and policy for that procedure. If you’re a visual learner, you can also quickly go online to search for a step by step video as long as it doesn’t go against any policies or orders in place. Preparing ahead of time reduces interruptions and helps you stay focused on the task at hand (Nayak, 2018).
Nursing shifts can be pretty unpredictable with continuous distractions. The patient’s condition can can change suddenly, you might need to unexpectedly transfer your patient and get an admission, you might not have enough staff to cover breaks, etc. Juggling all these changes can be pretty challenging. In order to practice good time management, it is important to use your critical thinking skills and identify urgent tasks, especially those that have to do with Airway, Breathing and Circulation (the ABCs). Time sensitive tasks (like STAT orders) should also be prioritized. Tasks that are easier and quicker should be completed first so you can focus on tasks that require a little bit more effort. If you anticipate that you will not have enough time to complete all your tasks, especially the more important ones, you should ask for help and delegate as early as possible.
Time management as an essential skill all nurses need to have. Browse our blog for more helpful tips and pearls for nurses!