Written by Alissa Hershberger
When you look at your to-do list, do you wish you had more hours in the day to get everything done? Unless you are an astrophysicist and know how to build a time machine, increasing the amount of time in a day is impossible. However, by optimizing the time you do have, it will feel like you have more hours in the day to check off those tasks on your list (or even just relax!).
Tips for Time Management at Work
1. Cluster patient care.
To optimize your time when caring for multiple patients, try to “cluster” your care. This means that before you go into the room you gather all the medications, supplies, and any other items that you might need. This pre-planning will allow you to maximize the time you spend with that patient, and it hopefully means fewer trips out to the nurse’s station or supply room to grab things that you forgot.
2. Chart in real-time.
All too often, nurses get caught up in completing tasks and don’t realize until about eight hours into their shift that they haven’t charted a single thing. Then they spend the next several hours trying to catch up and remember things from the assessment that they performed several hours ago. If you can, chart at least your full assessment in real-time or even shortly after you complete it at the beginning of your shift, it will save you time later in the day.
3. Get to work early.
Arriving at work even 15 minutes before the start of your shift can make a huge difference later in your day. Spend that time reading the latest notes about your patient and start anticipating what tasks might need to be done throughout your shift. This serves as a good foundation for planning the rest of your day and can help you stay on track throughout your shift.
4. Stay organized.
Find a report sheet that works for you and stick with it. By keeping all the pertinent information about your patient at your fingertips, you will spend less time searching for it on the computer later.
5. Set boundaries with patients and families.
While nurses often wish they could spend all day chatting with patients and families, it just isn’t feasible with all the other demands of the job. Be open and upfront with your patients and families when you need to leave the room. Politely explain that you have other patients that you must care for right now but that you will be back soon and look forward to talking with them more at that time.
Tips for Time Management at Home
1. Take advantage of online shopping.
In a world full of huge online retailers like Amazon, it seems like there is nothing you can’t buy with a simple click of the mouse. Use this to your advantage and purchase whatever you can online. This will save you a lot of time since you don’t have to physically go to the store.
2. Plan meals for the week ahead.
Choose a day each week to map out meals for the following week. By planning ahead, you only have to make one trip to the grocery store each week. Also, you won’t have to spend time each night trying to figure out what to cook for dinner because it’s already been decided.
3. Make a schedule and stay organized.
While you don’t have to map out every single minute of each day, having a plan for the day can be helpful in maximizing your time. Consider getting a planner (my personal favorite is Day Designer) or use a project management app like Todoist to organize the tasks you need to accomplish each day.
4. Limit time-wasting distractions.
Have you ever been mindlessly scrolling on your phone and before you know it, you’ve wasted a good 30 minutes? There are so many distractions out there that can be time-suckers, especially on our phones. Consider setting app time limits for social media or other websites that you tend to spend a lot of time on. Reviewing these limits will give you a better idea of where your time is actually spent.
5. Outsource as much as you can.
Financially this may not always be possible, but try to outsource things that take up your time if you have the means. For example, hiring a housekeeper or landscaper can save you a tremendous amount of time. There are also services that will do your laundry or grocery shopping, which can be a huge time saver as well.
So while it might be impossible to create extra hours in a day, using these strategies is a great way to make it feel like you have more time. Give them a try—you might be surprised just how much you can accomplish!
About the Author:
Alissa Hershberger is a nursing professor and forensic nurse with a background in critical care. She has a passion for education and is currently pursuing her PhD in nursing. When she’s not teaching or studying, she enjoys spending time with her husband, 2-year-old son, and black labs.