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One nurse’s time management tips for health care workers

Tips for nurse to manage their time

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Tips for nurse to manage their time

You work 12 hours a day and take care of your family. These suggestions might help

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You have a lot on your plate. You work 12 hours a day, take care of your family and maybe even try to learn some new skills. But there are only so many hours in a day, right?

Sandi Thorson, a registered nurse who works in the Women’s Center at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., knows how you feel. In addition to work, she’s a wife, mother, grandmother and a student earning her master’s.

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“My day can change in a heartbeat,” she told nurse.org. “So, I try to stay on top of things and not get to where I’m feeling behind.”

Thorson shared her seven time management tips to get through the day. They might help you, too.

Delegate... if you can

If you have a nursing assistant on your floor, delegating some tasks can make your job easier.

But be careful, said Christy Golden, a North Carolina nurse with 15 years of hospital experience. “Nursing, at its core, is all about relationships, which includes your relationships with your nursing assistants,” Golden told nurse.org. “Make sure when you delegate that you’re delegating only because you have a more pressing need that only a nurse can meet.

“This will save you time in the long run because you’re showing your nursing assistant that you’re not just going to leave all the dirty work to them. This forges teamwork which will always save everyone time.”

Prep for the little things

Golden said she shows up 10 minutes early for shifts so she can be sure to have scissors, tape, pens and any other basic supplies ready before she clocks in.

“Anything to save you a trip up the hall to get something later,” she said.

Prioritize your tasks

Thorson recommends asking yourself four questions:

  1. What am I going to do first and why?
  2. Which is more important to do, and why is it the most important?
  3. What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t do it now?
  4. What is most important to the patient?

“That’s how they teach time management in many nursing schools; but nurses have to remember that they can’t do everything they set out to do that day unless, of course, it’s giving medicine to a patient,” Thorson said.

“There are certain duties that must be accomplished. But there just might be a few things that can be left off until the next day or next shift, such as some administrative duties that aren’t so critical.”

Take breaks when you can

Even if you don’t think you need a break, take one when you can. There is no guarantee you’ll have time for a meal, so have a snack while you update charts or if there is a lull in activity.

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Anticipate needs

“Patients don’t like to feel like they’re trouble,” Golden said. “When you ask about specific things, it’s often a lot more effective than saying, ‘Is there anything else you need?’ Patients don’t always think about what they need unless you bring it up.”

That’s why, during slower times, she likes to ask patients if they need to use the bathroom or would like some water.

Thorson said she uses similar strategies.

“I’ll try to anticipate the patient’s needs and bring everything I think they may ask for in the room with me. This cuts down on unnecessary trips.”

Balance work and home

“That can be a struggle for some people, especially those with families and kids,” Thorson said. “It all depends on your organizational skills. If shift work is stressful for you, then you need to balance out that heavy workload with the things that eliminate stress for you — which can be exercise, hobbies or time with friends or family.”

She said she reserves weekends for her husband and kids, and tries to take a walk at least every other day.

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Have fun

During a lull or when there is no management around can be a perfect time to goof around, Thorson said.

“I’ve been known to do a cartwheel or two in the hallway when nobody from management is around,” she added. “I just try to stay positive and do the best job that I can.”

If cartwheels aren’t your thing, try singing your favorite song or dancing a little jig. The important thing is to find what works for you and enjoy.

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