Maximize your time each nursing shift

Maximize your time each nursing shift Share this article

Whether at a nursing home, a hospital or a private practice, nurses are often required to scramble between dozens of patients, clinical tasks and administrative work. It's no easy job, but it can pay off by helping someone feel better, and you can't say that about every profession.

Nurses of all levels of experience frequently find themselves in a time crunch, and although there can never be more hours in the day, these time management tips can help any nurse get the most out of every shift. 

Use the people around you 
Too often, young nurses will try to do everything themselves. But there are plenty of people who are on the same boat as you and can give you a helping hand, Sandford Brown College explained. 

The college, with schools of health in multiple campuses across the U.S., pointed to delegation as a critical aspect of time management. Often, nurses can take on too many duties with each patient, and many of these – such as bathing – can be done by certified nursing assistants or medical assistants. This gives nurses more time to do what they need to. 

Like delegation, teamwork is another important tool nurses have at their disposal. Sandford Brown pointed to communication as a key aspect of promoting better teamwork. 

"Similarly, you and other nurses need a strong sense of teamwork," the college explained. "Huge chunks of time are wasted when one nurse is swamped while another sits by. During a shift, nurses need to plan together. Experience guides them into knowing what kinds of patients and procedures are most demanding on individual nurses. They can also recognize an imbalanced workload, and adjust accordingly. A nursing unit that does not practice strong teamwork is needlessly stressful and puts patients to work."

Be organized and prepared 
Taking a little extra time at the end of each day to organize yourself and prepare for the next day can end up saving you substantial time when you come in for your next shift. NurseTogether.com pointed to to-do lists as particularly important for nurses. Make a to-do list for the next day before you leave work and you'll walk in confident that you can complete those tasks (and every curve ball thrown your way) before your shift ends. 

When you do the same tasks each day, try to figure out the average time it takes to do each one and add that into the equation. Some people prefer a grid that lets them break tasks down by patient and time, NurseZone explained. 

It doesn't matter what type of format you use, the important thing is to plan ahead with a visual aid that allows you to write down goals and cross them off when they're complete. 

Give yourself a break 
Because a shift can be so hectic, often nurses doesn't give themselves time to breathe. However, taking breaks from work can actually help you be more productive. So although you may not be doing any work for 10 minutes, that relaxation may be able to make the following 50 minutes more productive than they would have been otherwise. 

On the other hand, staying on task is also critical to success. Socializing and other distracting habits should be limited outside of breaks. It'll help create a clear definition between work and play. 

Prioritize everything 
Sometimes nurses can get caught up doing a task that isn't too important at the time. Whether it's tinkering with the software templates or restocking the exam rooms, these tasks can end up adding more work to your day when you still have to see a dozen patients. So it's critical to prioritize your tasks so that you'll be spending time on the most important things. 


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