Managing your Time
Kim Maryniak, PhD, RNC-NIC, NEA-BC
As nurses, we know there are so many benefits to good time management. Effective management of time helps get more work done, produces a higher work quality, and provides fewer missed deadlines. Additionally, there is a better sense of self-control, improved self-image, and decreased stress with good time organization. Time management is essential to successfully performing and progressing as a nurse along the continuum (Aggar, Bloomfield, Thomas, & Koo, 2017; Maryniak, 2019).
There are important strategies that can improve time management skills, which include organization, prioritization, and delegation. Organization involves planning out activities which need to be done, including anticipation of how long activities will take. Using a list or tool can be helpful; find one that works best for you. Gathering all supplies, equipment, and knowledge (such as policies) before starting a task helps with focusing and productivity. Breaking down tasks into smaller ones, and clustering care can assist with effectual planning (Aggar et al, 2017; Nayak, 2018). It is also important to remember that plans can be interrupted by unexpected activities or situations. Distractions, limitations of times, assessment, and multiple competing responsibilities can make prioritization difficult. Prioritization in nursing, at its core, is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Activities are viewed in terms of importance and urgency, and are based on critical thinking and clinical decision-making skills (Aggar et al., 2017; Maryniak, 2019). Appropriate delegation of tasks is also an important component to time management. Following up on those delegated activities is needed. It is also important to get back on track after any interruptions (Nayak, 2018).
Barriers to time management include ineffective planning or problem-solving skills, and over commitment. Environmental clutter, interruptions, and unnecessary activities also impede organization of time. Failure to delegate, daydreaming, procrastination, and perfectionism are other factors which can create poor time management. Multitasking is also an ineffective strategy, and can essentially cause more harm than good. Multitasking actually slows a person down, increases stress, impacts memory, and increases chances for errors (Yen et al., 2016).
Effective time management needs to be developed- it doesn’t just happen. Every nurse must find the tools and resources which will help him or her be successful in managing time. And this also needs to be re-established when a nurse changes jobs, as there needs to be adjustment to the new work environment and patient population.
Aggar, C., Bloomfield, J., Thomas, T., & Koo, F. (2017). A time management intervention using simulation to improve nursing students’ preparedness for medication administration in the clinical setting: A quasi-experimental study. Collegian, 25(1), 105-111.
Maryniak, K. (2019). Professional nursing practice in the United States: An overview for international nurses, and those along the continuum from new graduates to experienced nurses. San Bernardino, CA: Author.
Nayak, S. (2018). Time management in nursing: Hour of need. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 11(3), 1997-2000.
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