Imagine you are in your ward, the phones are ringing, your patients need urgent help, and you have to accompany the doctor on their rounds. Seems familiar? Nursing positions are sometimes akin to working in a war zone with several time bombs exploding simultaneously. As a nurse, your workday can change in a second. Hence, it is necessary to focus on critical tasks without falling behind.
Healthcare professionals work in a competitive atmosphere with a high workload. They are constantly averting disasters while juggling multiple responsibilities. Therefore, nurses need effective management and leadership skills. Time management skills are one of the most vital determinants of success within healthcare. But, even experienced professionals can have difficult days. Fortunately, we have eight tips you can follow to help you improve your time management.
Get the right skills
As a nurse, you need to develop your administrative and management skills to enhance patient care. While these skills evolve with experience, you do not have to wait for that long. Several universities and online educational platforms offer advanced degree programs to improve nursing skills. From undergrad level to DNP programs, there is something for every career step. Each program has unique advantages for graduates. Getting a terminal degree in nursing can hone your leadership and research skills and improve scheduling and time management skills. Therefore, consider continuing your education to be better at what you do.
Even ten minutes of extra time can help you with time management on the shift. As a nurse, you cannot afford to make any mistakes during the day. So, arrive a few minutes before your shift to prepare everything for the day. Take the extra time to screen your messages, organize your workspace, and read through the reports. You can also take some minutes to get into the correct headspace for the hectic day ahead. Anything can happen over the next 12 hours, so spend a few minutes preparing the little things beforehand.
As a nurse, there are often several things that require your attention. As a mere mortal, you cannot be everywhere at once. Therefore, you have to pick and choose the tasks and prioritize accordingly. But, do not take this as an opportunity to take the easy route. Instead, divide your tasks according to their importance and attend to critical jobs before others. Through prioritization, you will use your time effectively and address pressing patient needs. You can make a list of all the necessary tasks and number them according to urgency. Use technology to help you out in making a list and setting reminders.
Delegate what you can
You can’t do everything on your own. So, competent nurses know when they can pass tasks to others. Fortunately, nurses work in teams, and they have several people to lighten their workload. However, do not delegate every responsibility to your supporting staff. Instead, assign duties according to the skill set of the healthcare professional. Not only will this lessen your burden, but it will also help others gain valuable experience. Keep your lines of communication open to check any irregularities.
Cluster care is necessary
Novice nurses are often overwhelmed by the pace of their shifts, while experienced nurses handle everything without breaking a sweat. The fundamental difference between both is that an accomplished nurse knows how to cluster similar jobs. Nurses instinctively understand the patient’s needs and do similar tasks simultaneously. Always think about your next move and organize your tasks according to time and location. This way, you won’t have to run around the ward frantically trying to get stuff done.
Focus on your patient
Patient care is the primary goal of nursing. So, always focus on your patients. Ask patients about specific things instead of asking them if they need anything. Try to get these tasks out of the way when it’s slow so you can sort all issues before an emergency. You can also cut time by anticipating their needs and gathering anything they may need. However, do not try to assume what they would want. Remember to ask them first.
Learn to say no
What happens if your colleague needs a hand and you just got some time to take a break after a difficult time on your shift? You do not have to do everything that comes your way. So, some matters must wait. Shift your focus to the urgent things and say no to anything not on your list unless it is a priority or a matter of life and death. While nurses are primary caregivers, they need to pay attention to their tasks and patients. So, you cannot afford to waste time on other tasks.
Take a break
Fatigue can creep up on you when you’re working in a stressful position. A day in the life of a nurse is usually unpredictable and exhausting. However, the constant adrenaline rush does not let it get to you until it is too late. So, always take a few minutes for yourself when things are slow. Take some time to munch on a snack or discuss the news with your colleagues. Taking a little time to slow down can help you relax and focus on your job. A break can help with productivity and concentration and prevent burnout.
Time management is akin to stress management. Nurses have to manage responsibilities and stressful situations. Therefore, they need to use time management skills to live happier and fuller lives. When you are already knee-deep in problems, time-saving tricks seem like a lifeline. Luckily there are some tricks as mentioned above to avoid reaching the breaking point. In addition, ask your friends and family to take care of other tasks.