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Do you have any time management tips I can share with my new graduates?

Time management is a necessity in nursing, and everyone needs it in their personal and professional life. One of my favorite time management tricks is to "never touch a piece of paper twice." For example, when you get your mail, open it, sort it, and throw away what you don't need. Another tip is to throw out objects that you have not used in more than six months—that way, you get rid of the clutter and don't feel like your plate is overflowing.

Effective time management will help your new grads achieve their professional goals and meet their own needs. It will also help them develop their organizational skills, make them feel like they have more control, and reduce wasted time.

New graduate nurses can incorporate the following time management tricks into their work style:

  • Start off right. When entering a patient room, nurses should wash their hands and introduce themselves. Also, while they are examining the patient for overall clinical status, nurses should look at the patient area to identify whether they need to get more supplies for later.
  • Keep change-of-shift report on track. Advise that nurses don't waste too much time talking about incidental information instead of important facts about the patients. Use of a format such as SBAR (i.e., situation, background, assessment, recommendation) will help your staff stay on track and focus on key information.
  • Get organized before the shift starts. New nurses might find it beneficial to come in a bit earlier to look through charts, new physician orders, the past two shifts' progress notes, and recent lab results.
  • Plan shifts according to patient needs. Help novice nurses identify who their priority patients are. They need to figure out who they need to see first, second, third, etc.
  • Avoid charting at the end of shifts. Remind all nurses that they should chart as they go along. End of shift charting can lead to legal nightmares.

—Patricia A. Duclos-Miller, MS, RN, NE-BC