Five Smart Ways Nurses Can Conquer Time Management

Five Smart Ways Nurses Can Conquer Time Management

Prioritize time and effort in balancing task management and patient care 

The mere idea of time management in a healthcare setting – especially if you’re a nurse – may seem like a somewhat unattainable or vague concept. Afterall, active healthcare settings are fluid by nature and no day – or patient – is ever the same from one day to the next. If you’re a nurse, it sometimes may feel like you’re putting out one fire after another. At the same time, you’re keeping the health and safety of your patients above all else. Adding to this is the reality of a nursing shortage affecting the whole country, and healthcare professionals in general being pushed to their absolute limits since 2020. 

So that begs the question, “What are some time management strategies and ideas for Nurses?” No matter how hectic, unstructured, and unpredictable a nurse’s day may seem to be, there are some practical and concrete ways to build a sense of order through smart time management ideas. Being as proactive as possible is the key. While it won’t make your difficult job easier, these tips can provide a foundation of order that makes it feel more possible to get it all accomplished. 


1. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize. 

Nurses have an immense number of mission-critical responsibilities. So, where to begin? Take steps each day, prior to the start of a shift, to outline some general categories and questions that will help you focus on assigning your priorities during your shift. We’ve found a good outline for this on There is no script for a nurse’s day, so call on your critical thinking skills. 

    • What am I going to do first and why? 
    • Which is more important to do, and why is it the most important? 
    • What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t do it now? 
    • What is most important to the patient? 


2. Time blocking 

Where the nursing profession is concerned, the idea of time blocking during your day may seem impossible or ridiculous. Yet, after you’ve set your priorities, you may decide to set aside time for charting, record updates, reporting, etc. While it’s not direct hands-on work with patients, these details are an important part of overall patient care. When you do set aside time dedicated to these tasks, consider using a visual timer for establishing a reasonable and set timeframe for focusing on them. There are so many distractions in a healthcare setting, particular hospitals, and the time can get away from you quickly. Having a Time Timer visual timer in front of you at your workstation can prove very helpful. In fact, purchase a whole set of colorful visual timers to scatter throughout the nurses’ station! 


3. Arrive Early! 

It’s no secret that arriving early to any job can help make for a smoother start to the workday. In fact, it can set the tone for a positive day in general. If you arrive for your shift a bit early, you’ll have more time to get settled and receive information and patient updates from the previous shift. Take time to gather your supplies in advance and you’ll be good to go when your shift actively begins. When anyone arrives for a shift stressed out and flustered because they’re running late, it makes for a stressful transition for everyone around them. 


4. Delegate tasks to other team members 

If you are in a position where you have an opportunity to collaborate with or delegate to other members of the nursing team, this can help support better time management. In environments where nursing assistants (CNAs) or other support is available, call on these team members to help provide patient care. Don’t wait until you’re fully overwhelmed, and work to avoid the “I need to do it all” syndrome. 

Rely on medical and certified nursing support staff to help with hands-on patient care whenever appropriate. Don’t just pass along the dirty work to them. Because when the full team is engaged with patient care on some level, this fosters a stronger sense of collaboration and teamwork. For more information on this topic, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has published a guide on principles for delegation in helping with time management in the nursing industry. 


5. Take a break! 

Taking a small chunk of time to take a break from a demanding nursing shift can pay dividends. That includes helping with time management on the floor. When you do find a lull in your day, give yourself some time to sit somewhere, have a snack, and decompress. Remember that visual timer idea? Set the timer for a certain amount of time, which will help you commit to that time. Simply giving yourself the breaks you deserve (and it can be tough) can help support good time management in ways similar to showing up early will do. You’ll get back to work with a clearer head, and perhaps with a new outlook on challenges you’re facing that day. Your time and responsibilities are likely to feel more clearcut and you’ll head back into work with a refreshed perspective. And that approach will help you make the best use of your time!   


Read our research studies on how Time Timer has been used in a healthcare setting before. 


Are you looking for creative ways to help manage your time throughout the day – no matter your goals or profession? Check out some great ideas at! read our research studies on how Time T



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