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Time Management in Nursing Practice

People engaged in nursing should be caring, friendly, compassionate, ensure high-quality service, as well as proper medication and treatment. But every activity requires time. Nurses have no time to sit and to think about things irrelevant to their work. They experience physical and emotional stress due to the hectic schedules, caseloads, and a variety of patients with diverse needs and requirements. Distractions and disorganization make their day long, hard, and stressful. Therefore, nursing practice requires effective time management to manage the caseload, deal with daily problems and overcome stressful situations.

There is an increasing focus on nurses' efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness. Time management in nursing has become an essential component of healthcare work. It is recognized as a constituent of professionalism, high-quality services, and excellent performance. Therefore, the issue of effective time management has become the subject of numerous investigations. It has been studied by Hafner and Stock (2010), Burt, Weststrate, Caroline, and Felicity (2010), Terry (2011), Shohrech, Khatabari, Maddahi, and Khelghatdoost (2011), Chase, et al. (2012), and Nizar (2014).

The issue of effective time management, in nursing in particular, is interesting for us as we find it extremely essential for healthcare workers to plan their work during the shit to address all necessary events, problems, and emergencies. In addition, proper time management brings balance not only in the work life but also in the life outside medical practices.

The main aim of the project is to provide a better understanding of the importance of time management skills in nursing, to analyze the negative outcomes of poor time management, and suggest recommendations to improve or develop time management skills. The project will provide guidelines for nurses on how to eliminate poor management skills and develop the habit of planning, analysis, and delegation. Thus, the project provides valuable information for nurses and the people engaged in health care.

Introduction

The modern world presents people with the need to manage time and find the balance between life and work. Time management presupposes planning, prioritizing and making decisions. Effective time management is a vital skill in any career. However, in the field of medicine, it is of much greater significance. Many duties and responsibilities require time and attention. Nowadays, there is an increasing emphasis on health care effectiveness. Therefore, nurses may feel pulled in different directions and out of balance. It necessitates the need in working day control. Thus, understanding the importance of effective time management is the best way to keep up with the fast pace of life. Inadequate time management in nursing enhances poor care, increased stress, the dissatisfaction of patients, mistakes, lack of time to carry out routine tasks, and others.

Nurses deal with numerous during a typical shift including answering patients' calls, completing required paperwork, checking patients, managing their medication, updating patient charts, and many others. They have to write up notes, do handovers, visit the meeting and many others. In addition, they should meet targets, implement guidelines, and cope with the challenging environment. It means that health, safety and security of patients is closely associated with nurses and their ability to manage their tasks. Nursing work is full of pressure and experience stress. Time management helps nurses do well and work effectively. Hence, nurses should consume their time in the most effective way and not waste any minute.

Thus, nurses are expected to show effective and efficient performance. The main emphasis is put on efficiency and standardization of time as it is a resource that costs money. Nursing time has relevance for the people who produce it, who receive it and pay for it. Effective time management is essential for work productivity and successful life at home. In addition, it is paramount to mental and physical health.

Nursing Time

Nursing time is usually analyzed in terms of psychological, physical, and sociological forms. Psychological nursing is internal to the nursing care recipients and providers. Psychological nursing time tends to be affected by experience, history, and expectations of both nurses and patients. If the patients' expectations are not met, psychological nursing time is considered to be insufficient even in case a patient has received enough time from a nurse. Physical nursing time is represented in numbers and may be measured by the clock. It is demonstrated through staffing metrics that includes hours of care and nurse-patient ratios. Physical nursing time is outside the relationship between a nurse and a patient. The consumption of physical time in the nursing activity completion is summed and averaged to find the time needed to spend on patients during a shift. Time structure examples make an impact on nursing care presuppose standardized procedure sequences and medication times, established work shifts, and operation hours.

The sociological nursing time is experienced by both nursing care recipients and providers through shared temporal structures. It is usually characterized by the sequential event ordering within the routine practice setting. Nurses are engaged in making decisions and organizing their actions during a shift becoming a part of the social process of time structuring.

Importance of Time Management

In the modern society, time is treated as a special resource that cannot be saved or stored for the future. Everyone has the exact amount of time to complete the tasks and responsibilities. Many people blame lack of time for their poor performance, failures, poor finances, bad relationships, stress and other problems. However, wise management of time can help people find time for all needed activities and tasks. Time management helps to set priorities and make conscious choices. It provides an opportunity to spend more time on urgent and important tasks (Chase, et al., 2012).

Time management is an essential component of work performance in the professional nursing practice. Implementation of time management skills in nursing enables work smarter will fewer efforts. These skills are crucial for the survival in a busy shift. In addition, life outside of work is a good indicator of a nurse's time management skills. Effective time management at work helps nurses make their family and home life smooth.

Naturally, nursing comes with constant stress and difficulties on the job. Nursing work presents numerous distractions causing constant loss of time on unimportant activities. Some planning, prioritizing and delegation enable better management of time and better care for patients and themselves. Time management is the approach that can bring changes in the nursing routine increasing the time a nurse has at disposal (Shohrech, Khatabari, Maddahi, & Khelghatdoost (2011). It brings balance into the professional and personal lives of nurses, making them more efficient and effective. It is essential for any medical worker to learn how to manage time at work to reduce overload, ensure high-quality services, and reduce stress.

Benefits of Time Management in Nursing

Nursing is demanding career that needs devotion and qualification. As a rule, nurses have a lot of responsibilities and tasks to improve the patients' healthcare and well-beings. Improvement of time management plans substantially increases efficiency, increase communication with patients, and satisfy more patients' needs (Hafner & Stock, 2010). A short conversation may even save someone's life. Task prioritization within a shift makes a big difference in decreasing stress and helping nurses to manager their work getting less stress and exhaustion.

People engaged in healthcare should think about time management as the key to work effectiveness and balance. Improved skills of time managements make work more productive, reduce wasted time, and enable to do the right things at the right time. Better time management does not help patients; however it is a substantial stress relief for people working in an advanced environment (Nizar, 2014). It enhances socialization with the family and friends without the feeling of complete exhaustion. Nowadays, the skills of effective time management in nursing should be a must as it has many positive outcomes that influence nursing career and life outside work.

The main reasons for time management are work prioritization (helps to identify what should be done first), ability to do more thing in less time (planning enables to see the amount of work and time needed), better work quality, opportunity to keep things in context, meeting of professional goals and objectives, and discipline.

Time Management Techniques

There are a lot of techniques of effective time management. All of them minimize interruptions within a shift, minimize procrastination, and increase work efficiency. Time management presupposes the allocation of time to activities and aims at achieving organizational goals. Time management approaches include recognition, monitoring, planning, setting goals, prioritizing, delegating, and analyzing.

Nurses cannot manage their work if they do not recognize it. It is essential to be aware of common time wasters and interrupters. The most common time wasters are procrastination, poor planning, ineffective prioritization, etc.

Monitoring is usually carried out during the time spent on doing tasks to identify the use of time. It helps to identify common examples of nurses' habits of procrastination, the frequency of interruptions, and a lack of discipline. Goal setting includes identification of professional objectives. Prioritization allows a nurse to arrange the goals in the priority order. The highest priority goals have to be addressed as soon as possible. It is not advisable to carry out two or more tasks simultaneously (Shohrech, Khatabari, Maddahi, & Khelghatdoost, 2011). The planning process is making a list of things that should be done during the day. However, tasks should be broken into components to handle within time availability. It is effective to implement a 15-minute palling rule. Hence, nurses should spend the first 15 minutes of a shift planning the tasks. It allows them to focus on the most essential and urgent tasks, manage interruption, and improve the overall productivity.

Delegation is a vital element of the effective time management strategy. It is especially important for the practices that seek perfectionism and have lower level employees. Task delegation may be help to set expectations regarding the task appropriateness and establish future procedures for delegating tasks.

It is essential to minimize interruption opportunities. Nurses should pay attention as to where they are most helpful and effective. All activities, even the most unproductive ones, have to be planned. Finally, it is necessary to analyze the time spent on different activities and tasks to find whether it was spent effectively and identify possible barriers. A nurse can minimize the negative influence of those barriers through the reevaluation of professional goals, monitoring activities, prioritizing, planning, and analysis (Chase, et al., 2012). The most common tools used for time management in nursing include time log, nurse Kardex system, a weekly schedule, to do list, and scheduling grid.

Reason for Poor Time Management

If nurses do not manage their time well, their work quality suffers. Tasks cannot be completed at the last minute because it spoils the quality of work done. This problem should be avoided by driving tasks up across a reasonable time length. There has to be enough time to check for mistakes and make changes if necessary.

Poor time management leads to a lack of preparation, while proper planning ensures the feeling that there is enough time for everything. Poor skills of time management inevitably result in procrastination that means putting essential work until later. Hence, it will not be well-done due to a lack of time. Procrastination is closely associated with uncompleted tasks, dissatisfaction, and many negative feelings.

Lack of time management may also result in difficulties related to sleeping and constantly fatigued. In addition, a person can experience difficulty concentrating (Burt, Weststrate, Caroline, & Felicity, 2010). There are several reasons for poor time management skills and they are closely connected to the personal habits and activities.

Habitual lateness is one if the reasons of poor time management. People who do not use time properly in their daily life have difficulties scheduling the work. However, habitual lateness negatively affects efficiency, productivity and reputation.

Overextension is also blamed for poor skills of time management. Some people take on too much work but do not have enough time to complete it. As a result, they overextend themselves subjecting their mental and psychical health to negative influences. People who tend to overextend do not know how much time they need to perform a task and do not understand what can be done during a shift (Nizar, 2014). Therefore, they end up in frustration and failures.

Thus, the key time wasters of nurses are lack of discipline, personal habits and disorganization, poor skills of delegation, poor work on routine tasks, paperwork, fatigue, lack of work plans, and lack of time management knowledge. Other time wasters include telephone interruptions, interruption by patients and their relatives, unscheduled meetings, confused authority chain, inaccurate information from others, drop-in visitors, and many others.

Recommendations

Many nurses experience a real challenge at work because they waste time on minor and mundane tasks. Any nurse should establish a habit of time management that is related to one's self and time. It means that time is much better managed by a nurse herself. Then, nurses need to proceed with the proper techniques to improve their management.

Nowadays, nurses make constant attempts, which are not always successful, to maintain balance in their work. The problem of time may be easily solved through the certain an effective plan of time management that will bring make nurses' life less stressful and hectic.

It is essential to get rid of the feeling that much work has to be done and there is an extreme lack of time. Nurses should follow the idea that they have all the time in the world and it will enable them to focus on what they are doing. In addition, time planning will prevent from wasting it and enhance its effective use.

One of the best ways to avoid time waste is staying organized. It means that a nurse should not spend too much time on prescriptions, locating laboratory results, or finding patient records. Nurses have to keep their workplaces tidy and well-organized to quickly find all necessary papers and prescriptions (Nizar, 2014). While making a list of things that should be done during the workday, it is essential to focus on the most crucial responsibilities. The arrangement of the workday according to the priorities enables completion of the most urgent and important activities during the shift. It helps nurses to save the end of their day remaining tasks.

In order to effectively manage their time at work, nurses should arrive to their workplace in advance and plan everything listing the activities that should be done during the day. Also, it is advised to prioritize the activities and estimate the time required for their accomplishment. However, it is essential to leave some time for emergencies and unscheduled activities (Terry, 2011).

Time management skills are especially helpful when several staff members need access to the same patients, documents, laboratory results, and files. In case a nurse should complete several different task types, it is efficient to complete similar tasks first. Lack of time management skills may result in jumping from one task to another, low productivity, and inefficiency.

Thus, it is essential to know that a good understanding of the principles of time management and leisure planning tends to affect the mental and physical health of people. The conscious choice of time spending increases happiness and brings balance into life.

Conclusion

Nursing time is extremely essential and valuable for nursing and healthcare. It plays a vital role in the relationships between patients and nurses, as well as the achievement of professional goals. Improved organizational measures and nursing performance are needed for the effective guidance of nurse staffing decisions. Nursing is a demanding career that requires responsibility and decision making. Effective time management provides nurses with an opportunity to communicate with their patients, learn more about them, care for them, help colleagues, and do other things in a timely manner. Time management in nursing brings relief and enhances tasks prioritization. A lack of time management skills leads to failures at work and an inability to be effective and productive.

As a rule, nurses have an extremely busy and complex job that includes multiple demands, countless tasks, and many patients to care about. They must be able to manage their time to be effective and do their work properly. Nurses have numerous challenges at work including emergencies and contingencies. It is essential for them to have a clear idea of the tasks and responsibilities to successfully carry out all of them. Hence, time management in nursing is of vital importance as it is the key to the completion of all required tasks, management of patient caseloads, and decreased stress.

Time management influences nurses' ability to use the time function to accomplish the tasks, duties, and responsibilities in the exact timing. Effective time management enables the efficiency of every hour spent within a shift. Increase time management results in increased achievements and reduces stress. Nursing is a demanding, responsible and stressful occupation. Therefore, nurses should be well-organized and punctual. It is essential for them to have the skills of effective time management, delegation and critical thinking. However, time organization and time management are closely linked to the nurse, the person who determines the time, tasks, and responsibilities, organization aims and objectives, level of stress and pressure, and other factors.

It is believed that effective time management is an inevitable component of success at work. It presupposes the use of skills for work improvement and occupational stress control. Time management improves the recognition and awareness of working conditions and helps nurses to prioritize their work. The strategies of effective time management help to avoid the rush, working late, panicking, and others. Thus, implementation of time management maximizes nurses' work and increases their productivity. It means that nurses require a thorough management of all daily work to be efficient and cope with the multiple tasks. Proper scheduling and task allocation help nurses manage their work activities and have time and desire to communicate with family members and friends after work.

References:

  1. Burt, C., Weststrate, A., Caroline, B., & Felicity, C. (2010). Development of the time management environment (TiME) scale. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25(6): 649 – 668.
  2. Chase, J., Topp, R., Smith, C., Cohen, M., Fahrenwald, N., Zerwic, J., & Anderson, C. (2012). Time management strategies for research productivity. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 35(2): 155-176.
  3. Hafner, A., & Stock, A. (2010). 2. Time management training and perceived control of time at work. The Journal of Psychology, 144(5): 429-447.
  4. Nizar, B.S. (2014). Time management in nursing work. International Journal of Caring, 7(3): 746-749.
  5. Shohrech, G., Khatabari, J., Maddahi, M.E., & Khelghatdoost, P. (2011). The effectiveness of time management training on the amount of nurse`s occupational stress. Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research, 9(4): 462-466,
  6. Terry, L.J. (2011). A holistic framework for nursing time: Implications for theory, practice and research. Nursing Forum, 45(3): 185-196.