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How Effective Time Management Leads to Professional and Personal Wellness in the Nursing Field

Efficiency and time management are professional buzzwords, but they mean different things in healthcare. When a sales professional uses their time well, they might boost revenue or improve task management.

When a nurse uses their time well, they save lives.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. Working nurses know that their shifts can be characterized by long periods with little to do, followed by short bursts of extreme busyness. Surely they don’t need to be preoccupied with making the most out of every second during a twelve-hour night shift.

Yes and no. Nurses don’t need to worry about the bottom line the same way a business person might. They do need to focus on delivering the highest possible level of care to their patients and taking care of themselves in the bargain.

In this article, we take a sweeping look at how effective time management can lead to both professional improvements and personal wellness in the nursing field.

 

How Effective Time Management Leads to Professional and Personal Wellness in the Nursing Field

Implementing Prioritization Techniques for Time Management in Nursing Practice

Prioritization is important in hospitals. Most already apply a triage approach to administering care through which patients are assessed and sorted as they enter the hospital. Patients with high needs are given priority care. Those with superficial injuries or pain might have to wait longer while urgent cases are addressed.

To be a triage nurse is a specific job in the hospital. They are usually stationed somewhere near the entrance to the emergency room where they can assess people based on need as they come in.

Triage as a concept, however, can be extrapolated throughout the hospital. Nurses should always prioritize tasks based on urgency.

There are sorting techniques. Triage nurses assign their case priority based on a straightforward color-based system. Red means the patient requires time-sensitive care. Yellow means the patient is in serious condition but that their life is not immediately threatened. Green patients suffer from mild afflictions and can afford to wait for care.

Patients in the black category are not expected to live. When resources are limited, they might not receive care at all so the hospital staff can focus on patients who could potentially be saved.

There are other task prioritization systems that nurses commonly use to their workload effectively. The ABCD method sorts patients into different groups based on need. The Eisenhower Matrix breaks tasks into quadrants based on need.

Many hospitals now use remote monitoring technology that makes task prioritization easier. Nurses can now view their patients’ statuses through tablets or computer terminals making it easy to see who requires assistance, and who can wait.

Naturally, most nurses will also be given daily checklists and other tasks that they are expected to complete during their shifts. Sorting strategies can help maximize the efficiency with which they handle their daily task load.

Crafting Personalized Schedules

Traditionally, nurses working on hospital floors have not had much control over their schedules. The standard scheduling format has involved assigning nurses 3-4 twelve-hour shifts per week. Some nurses work day shifts, others work night shifts.

Typically, they rotate weekends and holidays to make sure that there is balance and fairness. The twelve-hour shift template isn’t easy but for a long time, it has been considered the most practical. Hospitals are open every hour of every day. It’s easier for supervisors in charge of scheduling to book two shifts per day instead of three.

However, as the conversation around workplace wellness shifts some hospitals are changing their scheduling approach. Many nurses are now allowed to issue input on their scheduling that aligns with their personal and professional priorities.

Some nurses are also able to block off time in their schedule for tasks that they used to have to find time for on their own. Administrative tasks, paperwork, mentoring program participation, etc.

Hospital floors will always be dynamic environments which means that things won’t necessarily go according to plan. However, the ability to personalize one’s schedule can improve efficiency and personal wellness.

Preventing Burnout

Burnout is a very real threat nurses everywhere face. High pressure, long hours, and a skewed work-life balance can have a negative effect on even the most seasoned nursing professionals. Good time management strategies can help nurses make sure they have opportunities for self-care throughout their shifts.

This could mean regular breaks or interpersonal support opportunities. As referenced earlier, some hospitals employ mentorship programs in which experienced nurses sit down with incoming employees and help them get the lay of the land.

While these opportunities may not sound like much to the outsider, they can have a big quality of life impact. It helps to be able to talk with someone who understands the unique stresses of the job.

Again, there’s always a big caveat: If a patient requires immediate medical attention it doesn’t matter what the schedule says. All hands need to be on deck. Still, the opportunity to build breaks and other mental health and wellness-related activities into the schedule certainly increases the chances that they will take place.

The Connection Between Breaks, Self-Care, and Productivity in Nursing

So why does all of this matter? Why is now the time to start talking about how to improve and optimize scheduling for nurses? Let’s set aside the most obvious consideration: Conscientious scheduling can improve nurses’ lives.

There are a few reasons why the conversation has gained traction over the last few years.

For one thing, there is an ongoing nursing shortage that has been simmering in the public consciousness since Covid. Things have improved slightly in the intervening years but many hospitals all over the country are still struggling.

Work/life balance considerations often improve employee retention.

It goes beyond that, though. Nurses who feel less stressed tend to work better. Burnout is very real and in the context of healthcare, very dangerous. Top of Form

Burnt-out employees are less efficient, less effective, and more likely to make errors. In the hospital setting, where human error can mean the difference between life and death that’s a big deal.

If the last four years have taught us anything it’s that nurses need to be treated better. Scheduling practices that optimize time management can help with that. However, it should be considered just one of many ways that the healthcare industry moves toward more thoughtful treatment practices for the people working in it.

 

 

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TWL Working Mom

Jennifer is the Owner of TWL and Co-Owner of a Influencer Facebook Group Influential Mamas.  Along with blogging + freelance writing and selling Zyia Activewear, she is a mom, army wife and full-time teacher. Jennifer lives in Washington State and is a born + raised New Yorker. In her spare time, she loves traveling, yoga, the beach, writing, listening to books and drinking coffee.

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