Time Management Tips for Nurses

Time management tips for nurses

Nursing can be one of the busiest and most challenging jobs you can do, with seemingly too few hours to reach the bottom of your tick-list even when you’re working a 12-hour shift. As Richmond Nursing Agency was established by nurses, we understand the demands of a role in which your workload can change in an instant, as emergencies unfold and unexpected patient needs arise.

On a busy ward it’s very easy to fall into a cycle of simply reacting but, with a little forward planning and some effective time management tools in your kit, it’s possible to carve out a proactive role and control your agenda. Here’s how!

1. Get ahead of the game

Get into the habit of arriving at work 10 minutes early, to check your schedule for the day and have an informative handover. The extra 10 minutes in bed might sound tempting, but a prompt start will help your day flow more smoothly overall.

2. It’s all in the planning

Sketch out a rough timetable for the day ahead, jotting down a list of main tasks as well as obstacles that might crop up. Factor in time to update patient records or speak to the relevant consultant about a particular patient or issue.

3. Prioritise key tasks

It’s fine to acknowledge at the start of your shift that you won’t get through your full list. Putting pressure on yourself to do so will just increase your stress levels, so be honest! Highlight the key tasks that simply must be done, and fit others in around them.

4. Make notes

The idea of making notes as you carry out your duties might seem yet another thing ‘to do’, but in fact it will ease your workload. It’s natural to forget key points when you’re busy, but going back over your notes regularly will jog your memory and enable you to make the right decisions quicker.

5. It’s okay to say no

Have confidence to tell colleagues and senior staff that you can’t take on certain tasks. Explain why – for example, doing so might compromise the safety of a patient they are not aware of. Provide alternatives, such as agreeing to look at it later if you have time, or suggesting another member of staff who perhaps has a lesser workload than you on that particular day. If you can give a good reason, most health professionals will understand!

6. Listen to your patients

Sometimes we can be so focused on administering medicine or checking notes that we forget the people at the core of our work – the patients! Remember to have those conversations with them as you go about your duties, looking out for any changes in what they’re telling you, as well as in their symptoms.

7. Take a break!

We can hear your cries of ‘I don’t have time!’ from our Llanelli HQ! But this tip is like 4) in that ‘making time’ will help the rest of your day go more smoothly. None of us works effectively if we’re so hungry our blood-sugar levels plummet, or if all we can concentrate on is how badly we need the loo! The short breaks that you’re fully entitled to will refresh you for the next few hours, benefitting your patients and colleagues as well as yourself.

8. Be flexible

While this might seem to contradict the points above about planning and prioritising, the nature of the job of course requires a little flexibility (okay, sometimes a lot!). Acknowledge that an agency nurse’s shift rarely goes entirely to plan and be prepared to adapt as you go along. Don’t give yourself a hard time when things go ‘wrong’ and remember to enjoy your work too – there’s always time to laugh!


Richmond Nursing Agency provides flexible hours to suit your lifestyle, helping create that all-important work life balance. We offer a diversity of roles in community and private settings and pay leading market rates, so get in touch to find out how to join us!

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