When working in a fast-paced environment, it can feel like there’s not enough time in the day. This often leads to workers feeling rushed, making mistakes, and missing deadlines that seemed reasonable at the beginning of the day. Improper time management has a way of making even the most capable employees feel like they can’t keep up.
Time management is a system in which a person organizes their tasks and how much time they’ll devote to each activity. Jobs with a consistent routine may not require a time management system. However, in the field of nursing and health, effective time management is critical to job performance.
Nursing is a career that requires constant multitasking. Being responsible for multiple patients means nurses must prioritize their tasks and effectively manage them in real time. As new patients arrive and current patients’ health scenarios unfold, nurses must constantly adapt. Even with all the knowledge, training, and medical equipment nurses have at their disposal, time is a finite resource that must be spent wisely.
Nurses must work efficiently to manage their responsibilities without compromising patient care, so effective time management in nursing and using best practices are integral to success in the role. Effective use of time is one of the many crucial skills that students learn in nursing school.
What Is Time Management and Why Is It Important?
Time management is the act of effectively planning, anticipating, and using one’s time. It means completing tasks or projects before they’re due, completing tasks in order of deadline or priority, and avoiding time-wasting behaviors such as checking social media and engaging in conversations unrelated to work.
Those who use effective time management practices see the following benefits.
- Improved job performance
- Stress reduction
- Improved work/life balance
- Extra time for projects or tasks that are unexpected or run long
- The ability to achieve goals faster
- The ability to take on more responsibility or enjoy more leisure time
By comparison, those who engage in poor time management practices can have a much harder time at their jobs. Examples of poor time management include being easily distracted, engaging in activities that aren’t work-related, spending too long on simple tasks, and not spending enough time on tasks that require more attention.
Ineffective time management can lead to the following.
- Missed deadlines
- Stress and anxiety
- Poor job performance
The good news is that anyone can learn how to be more effective at time management, including those in health care. Time management in nursing is a matter of implementing best practices and making some key behavior modifications.
Top Tips for Time Management in Nursing
The following are some of the top tips and best practices for more effective time management in nursing.
- Arrive early; it’s good to have a 15–20-minute period to transition to work.
- Prioritize tasks, starting with the most pressing or urgent tasks; finish the most difficult first and move on to the next.
- Organize tools or supplies that are in regular use to minimize time spent tracking them down.
- Make to-do lists using phone apps, and check off tasks as completed.
- Learn to be an effective communicator.
- Delegate when necessary, or when another nurse has the capacity to take on additional tasks.
- Take advantage of new technology that makes achieving tasks quicker and more efficient. For example, many health care facilities have adopted medical transcription software so health care workers can dictate their notes rather than writing them down or typing them out.
- Set simple and attainable goals.
- Create routines wherever possible.
- Take breaks; the life of a nurse is often hectic, so take advantage of downtime.
- Limit distractions and time-wasting behaviors such as checking social media, watching YouTube videos, and engaging in personal conversations unrelated to work.
- Try to remain adaptable and flexible.
- Always be proactive when it comes to completing tasks and addressing problems. This is critical to ensuring positive health outcomes and patient safety.
- Use cluster care methods. Group several tasks into a single patient visit rather than making multiple trips to complete one task at a time.
Effective time management in nursing doesn’t happen overnight — it is a skill developed through committed practice. Implementing these best practices and tips is a challenge that will require self-awareness and diligence. However, by sticking with it, any nurse can learn to manage their work more efficiently, thereby achieving more professional satisfaction and an enhanced ability to provide optimal patient care.
Begin Your Journey to Becoming a Nurse Leader
Effective time management in nursing helps nurses feel more in control of their work life, improves job performance, and reduces stress, which ultimately results in better patient outcomes — a nurse’s top priority.
Those who are feeling stressed or overwhelmed — in the nursing world or otherwise — should strive to apply time management tips. Nurse leaders, nurse managers, and nurse practitioners all rely on effective time management practices to manage their demanding workloads.
For those who aspire to nurse leadership, there’s no better investment than the proper education, such as the online Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Hawai’i Pacific University. Offered in both BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP paths, the program is 100% online and prepares students to become advanced practice practitioners who are capable of making a difference in health care.
Begin your journey to becoming a nurse leader with Hawai’i Pacific University.