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10 Tips for Managing a Busy Nursing Schedule

Nursing is an undeniably busy career. From tending to patients to administrative duties, the tasks can almost seem endless. That doesn’t mean you should deal with always being swept off your feet, though, as an overload of work could lead to stress and even burnout.

If each day as a nurse feels like a rush to get everything done, then you might benefit from some readjustments. To help you get through your shift without too much stress, here are ten tips for managing a busy nursing schedule.

1: Progress Online

Nurses that are trying to climb the ladder by earning extra qualifications have it even harder. After all, juggling an intense career like nursing while spending time in education is a lot to take on board. To help you delegate your time appropriately, consider doing an online course rather than a traditional one inside a classroom. If your goal is to become a qualified family nurse practitioner, then an online MSN FNP qualification will get you there with online material combined with work placements.

2: Plan Your Time

Instead of taking each day as it comes, it’s better to schedule your time at the beginning of each week. That is because you have more control over your time, as you can see clearly where you need to be and when. You should also plan your day as soon as you get to work. If you’re on a ward or in an emergency room, you might not be able to know exactly where you’ll be at each hour, but having a rough idea will help.

3: Keep a Tidy Space

A cluttered work area will only contribute to more time-wasting, which is the opposite of what you want. Each morning, delegate a little time to clear your space so that the workday runs much smoother. If you do a little each day, it will never become overwhelming. Have a look at some desk organization tips for clever ways to store your items, too, as this will help you keep it tidy even when you have a lot of paperwork.

4: Learn to Prioritize Tasks

Knowing how to prioritize tasks is a skill that all nurses must have under their belt. Often, you will be faced with multiple tasks – too many to do in one go. You only have two hands, after all! For this reason, you must decide which ones require your immediate attention, which ones can wait an hour or so, and which ones can even be archived until the next day. Doing this ensures you complete the urgent tasks, and you can later allocate some free time to the less urgent matters.

5: Take Enough Breaks

Working through your breaks won’t make your work-life any easier. In fact, it will only make you more stressed, which will increase the chances of making mistakes. Even if your task list is daunting, be sure to take at least five minutes, and use it well. Getting some fresh air is always beneficial, as it will help clear your mind and tackle your list of jobs easier when you return to your shift.

6: Maintain Focus

Unwavering focus is another skill that nurses must nail, as it’s important to spend each minute of your shift with your attention solely on your tasks. Too much daydreaming or chatter will only slow down your work, resulting in a more daunting amount of it later down the line. When you’re on your shift, make that your only priority. That is why breaks are so important – it allows your mind some moments away from your nursing obligations, which is very much needed, especially during the long shifts!

7: Write To-Do Lists

To-do lists will make delegating and prioritizing much easier during your shift. Carry a notebook around with you everywhere you go, and be sure to write down any last-minute tasks a colleague asks of you. That way, you ensure you don’t end up forgetting to do something important! A to-do list at the beginning and end of each day is helpful, too. When you start your next shift, you’ll know exactly what you must catch up on.

8: Schedule Your Free Time

As a busy nurse, it is not just your shift that you need to schedule; it’s your free time, too. As you will inevitably spend much of your time at work, it’s crucial to make the most of the time you have to relax, see loved ones, and pursue the hobbies that interest you. Scheduling makes this much easier. For example, you could schedule your next day off by allocating time for a relaxing bath, time for shopping, and an hour or two for coffee with a friend. It means you won’t wake up for your next shift feeling like you have wasted your time off.

9: Ask for Assistance

If your task list is too important to put off but too large to complete alone, don’t be afraid of asking for assistance. Remember to give a hand to other nurses when they ask for help, and you have some free time, too. Creating a workspace that is all for one will help everyone manage even the busiest of days.

10: Know Your Limits

Most importantly, know your limits when it comes to nursing. If your supervisor asks too much of you, it’s far better to decline rather than bite off more than you can chew. You are working in healthcare, after all, where mistakes must be avoided for the safety of yourself, your colleagues, and your patients. So, be clear about your limits and let your supervisor know you can’t accept a task. Don’t worry about this affecting your progression, as most managers appreciate a nurse who is honest about their workload rather than one that takes too much on and makes mistakes as a result.

With these ten tips, even the busiest of nurses will find their shifts become a little less overwhelming.

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