Time Management Strategies in Nursing Practices
Although commonly accepted as part of what makes up a nurse’s normal day, a hectic pace and rapidly changing priorities can take a toll on staff members and may lead to increased turnover rates. One of the best ways a small-business owner can reduce stress and combat burnout is to incorporate time management strategies for nursing practices into onboarding and ongoing employee training and development. Time management strategies are vital, regardless of whether nurses are working onsite, such as in a small nursing home, or offsite such as in a home healthcare agency.
Nurses can’t manage what they don’t recognize, so becoming aware of common time wasters can be a good starting strategy. Because the work environment and differing responsibilities determine not only which time wasters affect nurses but also the degree, brainstorming with the nursing staff can be an effective way to identify the ones that affect your business. Some of the most universal time wasters include procrastination, ineffective prioritization, poor daily planning or a complete lack of daily planning, and perfectionism.
A second strategy for helping nurses effectively manage time is to implement a 15-minute planning rule. In this strategy, nurses spend the first 15 minutes of every shift creating a daily plan that, if done correctly, allows nursing staff members to focus on the most important or urgent tasks, better manage interruptions and improve organization. Task identification is the first step, followed by task prioritization. For example, nurses can prioritize tasks according to whether they’re important and urgent, important but not urgent, not important but urgent or neither important nor urgent. The results of these two steps can then become the basis for creating a priority-based daily task list.
Learning when and how to delegate tasks is a vital time management strategy. This is especially important for nurses who tend toward perfectionism and even more important if the business has competent, lower level employees such as nursing assistants on staff. Because task delegation transfers only the task and not the responsibility for its outcome to another staff member -- which is one reason some nurses may hesitate -- it can be helpful to set expectations regarding which tasks are appropriate for delegating and establish procedures for delegating tasks in advance.
Interruptions are a fact of life with nurses, regardless of how well they plan. A strategy for dealing with and managing interruptions is essential for keeping the day on track. In a non-emergency situation, an approach in which nurses evaluate interruptions by determining the likely consequences of dealing with this situation now versus later and whether the task can be delegated can allow a nurse to quickly prioritize an interruption and take the appropriate action.