Time Management in Nursing: 8 Tips for Nurses & Nursing Students

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at 866-892-1562.

Time management in nursing is critically important for nursing students, nurses and patients. You can improve your time management skills in nursing by planning ahead, following a schedule, prioritizing tasks, practicing cluster care and using relevant technology. Nursing students can reduce distractions, schedule breaks and know when to seek help.

nurses looking at items on table

Nursing is a gratifying yet demanding field. You'll need to master many skills to be successful — from safely starting IV lines to repositioning patients to communicating well with colleagues. Just as much as technique, knowing how to spend your time wisely can help you fulfill your objectives. For this reason, time management in nursing is essential both in nursing school and as a working registered nurse.

If you plan on earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through an accelerated program, such as CSP Global's Accelerated BSN program, then time management in nursing school is particularly important. An accelerated program is far more doable if you stay on top of everything rather than try to play catch up. Check out the following tips for active nurses, followed by tips for time management for nursing students.

What Is Time Management in Nursing?

Everyone has the same number of minutes in an hour and the same number of hours in a day, yet everyone uses that time differently. Time management in nursing simply refers to how a nurse uses the time available to them.

Time management skills can include behaviors like identifying goals or tasks, prioritizing, and planning ahead to ensure tasks are finished within the allotted time. Time management skills can also include finding ways to reduce time spent on specific tasks while not sacrificing the quality of the work, or recognizing ahead of time that there are too many tasks to be completed within an allotted timeframe.

Why Are Time Management Skills Important?

Time management skills in nursing involve organizing tasks and using time in a way that is as efficient as possible, which allows nurses to be more productive. This enables them to effectively juggle their assigned patients and ensure everyone receives the care and attention they need.

Since nurses often care for several patients during a shift (in addition to handling paperwork and other assorted tasks), it's essential to manage time wisely. Good time management skills may also help improve patient care and health care quality.

nursing student in library reading a book

Thinking about how to prepare for nursing school? Check out this blog with 10 top tips!

Time Management Skills in Nursing: Tips for Nurses

If you're already a working RN or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you already know how vital good time management is. Yet, achieving it during the day-to-day rush within the field can still be challenging. Try these tips to keep your workload under control and better manage stressful situations.

1. Prepare in Advance

Every shift begins with a review of the patient caseload. Use this time to get to know your patients and their needs and prepare for the tasks you will likely encounter during that shift.

Planning ahead also involves looking at the week as a whole. You'll likely know what shifts you can expect in advance, but it's essential to leave some wiggle room in your schedule if something happens and you end up working overtime to bridge a gap in staff availability.

2. Optimize for Efficiency

One way to ensure you're as efficient as possible is to prioritize your tasks. This should ideally happen at the beginning of your shift; however, as every nurse knows, things can change rapidly throughout a shift, and you'll likely need to reevaluate and adjust your priorities. As a general rule of thumb, identify each patient's most important and urgent physiological needs and address those first.

two CSP nursing students sitting and studying

3. Keep a To-Do List

It's tough to keep track of everything during a busy shift. Keep a to-do list to organize the tasks you need to complete. At first, you can cluster the most important and urgent tasks at the top of your to-do list. However, as you continue to add items, the order of priority may change. Instead, add numbers 1, 2, and so on in front of items so you can see at a glance which are the highest and lowest priorities.

4. Perform Hourly Rounds

One of the most important best practices in nursing is to get into the habit of doing hourly rounds. Check on your patients every hour to ensure they're comfortable and receiving the care they need. Ask about their pain level and whether they need anything, and consider whether they require repositioning or toileting assistance.

5. Practice Cluster Care

Nurses are on their feet all day, rushing from room to room. It's far more efficient to practice cluster care whenever possible. Instead of visiting the same patient to do different tasks during different visits, try to accomplish as many tasks as possible in the same visit.

6. Seek Assistance

It's important to delegate and share tasks whenever possible, but seeking assistance can go beyond this. Consider asking your coworkers for feedback on your approach to certain tasks. Perhaps there's a more efficient way.

CSP ABSN students looking at paper

7. Use Helpful Technology

Technology can not only improve patient care but also help nurses practice better time management. In addition to various scheduling apps and reminder notifications on your phone, you might look for apps and other tech tools to help you provide better patient care. For example, some apps offer quick access to information like drug interactions and side effects.

8. Take Advantage of Break Opportunities

Working nurses don't always get breaks when they're supposed to, so take advantage of opportunities when they pop up.

Tips on Time Management for Nursing Students

Before caring for patients, you'll need to learn time management in nursing school. As a student handling assignments and deadlines, especially within an accelerated format, keeping on top of the things that come your way will ensure you stay ahead. Here are some tips to help you succeed.

Check out this blog on how to get into nursing school and start working toward your new career!

nurse writing on a clipboard

1. Plan Ahead

Just as working nurses need to plan ahead, so do nursing students. You should use a day planner or an app to keep track of your assignments and deadlines. Try to complete assignments at least a day early; this way, you won't risk having an assignment overdue if you experience an unexpected snag, like a laptop crashing or a car breaking down.

2. Keep a Schedule

Whether you prefer a day planner or an app, you'll need to use a tool to track your schedule. Write down all your classes, labs, clinicals, group study sessions and other commitments for the week ahead.

3. Prioritize Your Goals

Prioritizing goals and tasks can benefit nursing students as much as working nurses. Figure out which tasks are most important and urgent and do those first. Remember, you may need to shift priorities if something in your schedule or classes changes.

nurses in sim lab

4. Avoid Overextending

As an accelerated nursing student, you'll be quite busy, and it's easy to try to fit too much into each day. A key component of time management in nursing is avoiding overextending yourself by having realistic expectations for what you can accomplish in a day.

5. Be Flexible

Ideally, you might have every minute of your day planned, but that doesn't mean it'll go as planned. Sometimes, unexpected snags pop up. It's important to be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances.

6. Reduce Distractions

Another essential part of time management is the need to be productive with your time. Work on coursework and have study sessions in a quiet space with few distractions.

7. Know When to Ask for Help

No one completes nursing school in a vacuum. It's important to ask for help before you become overwhelmed and burned out. Ask your family for help completing non-nursing school tasks, and turn to members of your nursing cohort for school-specific support.

students studying in common room

Looking for more advice for nursing students? Get these top 10 tips!

8. Schedule in Breaks

Using your time wisely also means knowing when to take a break. If you schedule at least a little "me time" every day, you'll be able to return to your studies feeling more energized.

Ready to Pursue an Accelerated Nursing Education With CSP Global?

At CSP Global, it's possible to graduate with your nursing degree in as few as 16 months, so you can start sending out resumes much more quickly. Plus, you can choose from three start dates per year once you meet the prerequisite requirements. Enjoy a hybrid combination of online coursework and in-person experiential learning as you work toward your dream of becoming a nurse.

Contact us today to speak with an admissions counselor and find out if our ABSN program could be a good fit for you.