Being a nurse is a fulfilling yet hectic job. Since workload and breaks are unpredictable, there can be days that it gets overwhelmingly stressful. When not knowing how to manage one’s time effectively, nurses may easily lose their eagerness which is greatly needed in this field. They may also feel much stress due to pressure from patients or colleagues. In order to have a hassle-free and smooth shift, time management is extremely important.
- Getting in early at work: For employees who have a 9 to 5 job, working hours that go beyond 8 hours are long. However, in a nurse’s case, it may not be long enough to finish taking care of their patients and other related tasks. In order for nurses not to take unwanted overtime, they should practice diligence in arriving early at work. It is ideal for them to time in 20 to 30 minutes before the shift. They can maximize these minutes in checking their patients’ records and charts and preparing for the possible endorsements that will be given. As a result, they can easily map out their plans for the whole shift when they get an overview.
- Setting priorities: Since nurses have the skill to multi-task, they ought to know how to set priorities with the tasks that need to be accomplished. It is quite a challenge for many, but it is helpful once it is mastered. They can start with the tasks that need urgent and much attention. For them to be able to distinguish the things that need to be done first, they must assess their patients carefully and properly. They must weigh the possible consequences of a certain task if they do not do it immediately instead of thinking how urgent the task is. For instance, a patient’s IV line should be changed first before the drainage of the urinary bag since having blood clots or embolism is more detrimental to the patient.
- Determining the amount of time it will take to complete a task: Nurses who already know how to prioritize their daily tasks should also know how long they need to do a task. They will most likely fail if they are too confident that they can accomplish all the things they need to do in their shift. They have to remember that many occurrences may happen especially when working in a hospital setting. For instance, patients or their family members can ask nurses about their condition or doctors may ask assistance when they do their rounds. Therefore, allotting enough time for each task is vital.
- Focusing on the tasks at hand: Nurses ought to know how to give their full concentration on their work. If sending messages through Messenger, checking Facebook, and chitchatting with co-workers are not part of the daily plan, they should wait for their break time to do those. Although most will reason that doing those activities will not take much time, there is a tendency that a nurse can get absorbed in the activity and forget the other more important things to do. Moreover, many incidents can happen within the minutes they use doing less important things.
- Saying no: Although multi-tasking is one of the best skills of nurses, they cannot always give in to their patients’ demands. Yes, they should provide the best care possible, but that does not necessarily mean that they should give what the patients want right away. Doing it may put the nurse or the patient at risk. For requests that are not an emergency, they can explain the need to decline and say that they will attend to those tasks later. Patients or colleagues will not feel bad since they understand the situation that the nurse is in.
- Listening: Knowing how to listen to others is important in every communication. Therefore, nurses should always listen whatever their patients or colleagues say to them. For patients, since they are ill, they cannot fully understand a number of workload nurses have. Thus, their priorities are different. Nurses cannot assume that patients mostly give trivial demands. Aside from giving care, paying much attention to what patients say make them one step closer to recovery.
- Having breaks: Most nurses take resting at work for granted, especially if the shift is too busy. They should know that taking a break can do wonders for their remaining working hours since a hospital-related job can get very stressful. Drinking water, eating a light snack, or having a bathroom break is enough rest from time to time. They should not skip eating their meals. Their brains and body, which are of utmost importance with their work, cannot function well if they do not eat at the right time. If having a meal is not possible, they can snack on healthy energy bars, fruits, or light sandwiches just to have a boost of needed energy.
- Being flexible: Being able to adapt to any situation is what every nurse needs to know. For ward nurses, the cases or conditions of patients change rapidly. They have to know when and how to step out of their hospital comfort zone. Sticking to the same priorities is not possible and should be updated from time to time. This can be helpful to a nurse who needs to handle a patient with a new and unfamiliar condition.
- Keeping organized: All the items and equipment that nurses use should always be kept in order. They should not let items like pens or documents scattered all around the table. There should be proper storage for all these things. For machines and equipment, they should be placed where they are kept when not in use. It may seem like a simple thing, but it can make you more productive at work. In addition, accidents can be prevented with this measure.
- Note taking: Some people can retain much information without the need to take it down. However, for nurses, they should develop the habit of taking down notes. This is helpful because there are lesser chances of something missed out. They can write the patient’s name and important keywords associated with him or her, laboratory details, or data given by doctors. They can also make a list of all the things they need to accomplish within the day and superimpose when they finish one. Writing these in a small notebook is advisable so that they can conveniently bring it anywhere they go
- Delegating tasks: Health care professionals must always work as a team in treating a patient. Not even a doctor can single handedly cure a patient. Nurses should know that they are always part of a group. Assigning tasks to nurse attendants can make their work much lighter. The most important factor in the delegation of tasks is communication. If there is no proper communication, nothing can be accomplished. Moreover, nurses ought to delegate a task to the person who has the capability and knowledge to execute it.
Finally, a nurse’s job is not easy. Nurses do not have all the luxury of time when they work. Therefore, it is extremely important that they have the knowledge of how to do time management. With enough passion in the profession, they are in and discipline to follow the suggestions given, unwanted circumstances during their shift can be avoided.