5 Time Management Tips for Nurses

Nurses bring their expertise and talent to many different areas of healthcare, however; all nursing positions share the challenges of effective time management. With frequent interruptions, unexpected additional tasks and working with the unpredictable dynamics of health, it is no wonder that even the most organized nurses find time management success a challenging feat. Although most nurses often spend their shift by putting out fires and deescalating random crisis, there are strategies you can incorporate into even the most hectic of workdays to manage your busy daily schedule.

20181960_sOutline Your Daily Agenda

Although it may seem impossible to plan a workday that is in constant change and unpredictability, numerous studies have shown that when nurses outline their day by highest to lowest priority, they complete their shift in less time and with less stress. Structure your shift schedule by outlining the list of tasks for the day, rank by importance and include the amount of time that is needed to complete each one. Clearly, completing your highest priorities throughout your shift can lower your stress and provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

Learn the Art of Delegation

Even Super-Nurses need help on occasion and delegation is a highly useful tool to get the workday completed. By employing the help of coworkers, you display the respect of their talent and promote the teamwork initiative. Although not everything can be delegated in nursing, asking others to help you with even the smallest of tasks can free your time to focus on the more important priorities of your schedule.

Minimize Time Bandits and Interruptions

Researchers have discovered that after each of the frequent interruptions that nurses experience on the job, it takes 10 to 20 minutes to get back into the work flow. Although interruptions cannot always be helped, avoiding long chats with coworkers on unrelated patient or workplace issues can throw you off your schedule. As a major contributor to the sabotage of time management, ensure that you avoid these unnecessary interruptions by practicing the following:

  • When you are engaged in a task, tell coworkers you will be free when your are finished
  • If you require an interruption-free zone, close the door if possible, notify coworkers and hang a sign up
  • Be a model to coworkers and always ask them if they are busy or when they will be available to speak
  • Tell coworkers how much time you have to speak or help them at the start of the interruption

Learn to Say No and Stay on Track

If you enjoy assisting others at work and strive to promote teamwork, you may find it difficult and even uncomfortable to tell coworkers that you do not have the time to help them. However, learning to say “no, I am too busy” may be a survival tactic that is necessary when you are overwhelmed by your own responsibilities.

Manage Your Needs at Home First

Your time management success at the job can greatly benefit from your preparedness at home. Ensure that you get enough sleep, take part in recreational exercise and practice a nutritious diet on a regular basis to keep your body healthy for the demanding role of nursing. Prepare for the workday and avoid depleting your powers of concentration from a frenzied stop for gas at the last minute or arriving late to your shift. Arrange time at home for self-care and the engagement of relaxing activities.

Liz Cook writes for FindCNAClasses.com, a resource for CNA certification information. You can find more of her writing by following Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.


  1. nursefriendly on October 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Timeless advice Liz, thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. katykatz on October 29, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Thanks for sharing this list! Sometimes it seems as if a nurse’s job is entirely made of managing interruptions. Delegation and saying no can be a life saver, in more ways than one!

  3. lowman2525 on October 29, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Agree it is wonderful advice. Thanks for the share. We at http://cnacertification-training.com/ take this subject very serious and are gonna have a roundtable on Google Plus soon. Thanks again.

  4. swethasri on October 30, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Making an agenda and working according to it is a best plan and finishing it first and then working on regular tasks is the best way to manage time. Trust me, at the end of the day, you can calculate a lot of time saved.
    Moreover, I use some tools to keep myself organized such as Replicon time clock software – http://www.replicon.com/time-clock and Google Calender.

  5. chnops76 on May 8, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    tips, I look forward to applying these strategies once I become
    part of this great profession.

  6. chrisjohn1236 on October 25, 2014 at 12:26 am

    The tips are a great help as I am pursuing online paramedic refresher course from http://www.code3cme.com/. The tips will help me practice my job well.

  7. walkssophia on October 27, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Time management tips do work for every segment of people but who ever takes it in a serious manner does land up with the specific approach which does make a better sense in all possible ways. For a better sort of time management, I prefer using the cloud based hours tracking software from Replicon ( http://www.replicon.com/olp/hours-tracking-software.aspx ) which is preferably the most effective tool to be considered.

  8. WorldNursingJob on October 28, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Time management can be challenging for nurses but with frequent practice and learning these steps can dramatically improve one’s routine. Thanks for this helpful article Liz!

  9. James Lisbon on April 18, 2015 at 9:15 am

    I liked the part that mentioned that it is okay to say “no” within reason.  Sometimes nurses may get caught up in trying to help everyone when they may not be able to.  However, it is probably a good thing that there are services out there that can help with needs should they arise. http://www.catawbacountyhomehealth.com

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