Five Time Management Tips: Work-Life Balance Edition

NursingFebruary 08, 2014

Time management is the name of the game for nurses. From prioritizing care for four patients at a time to squeezing in yoga classes, here are five time management tips to manage your personal life and your work life, maintaining the best of both worlds. 

1. Start by prioritizing your to-do list. The top of the list should include making sure your basic needs are met. Eat healthy food, exercise and sleep regularly. Even a 20-minute walk to decompress after a shift, instead of watching an hour of television, can help you be healthier and sleep better. Working in exercise can be difficult, but not impossible, on your working days. If you are a day shift worker, you can wake up a bit earlier for a quick 30-minute workout session that will leave you energized for the whole day. If you are a graveyard shift person, you can try a similar approach by working out before your night shift begins. Try different things and see what works best for your work and exercise routine. 

2. Be financially responsible by avoiding unnecessary debt. You can put undue pressure on yourself by spending too much money, and then being forced to work more to cover it. The size of your paycheck may seem exciting at first, and you will want to reward yourself, but keep it under control. Avoid debt, and you will avoid a great deal of stress. You may see it in your coworkers as they burn themselves out picking up extra shifts. Don't let that be you. If it is, talk to a financial expert, who can help you get back on track.

3. The greatest benefit of the 12-hour shift is three days of working and four days off. Make the most of your time during these days. Do your laundry, go grocery shopping and clean your living space. Get ready for the next three day work period so that errands don't pile up over a week or two. Also, try to keep to your routine as much as possible. This is difficult when working night shifts, but do your best not to let them knock you off your rhythm. Stay up later and sleep in later as a night nurse. If you are working the day shift, don't start burning the midnight oil; it will make it more difficult to be alert and refreshed on your working days.

4. Avoid toxic relationships. This doesn't sound like one of those stereotypical time management tips, but it's valuable nonetheless. Gossipy coworkers, manipulative patients and inattentive boyfriends can suck your emotional energy dry, which may leave you overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead, gravitate towards people, who will support and encourage your personal goals and bring you happiness, not added stress and drama. Set aside some time on your days off to spend time with these people, as your positive relationships will keep you going when things get hard.

5. Finally, don't hesitate to ask fellow nurses about their time management tips, and try out their strategies. Some may work for you and some may not, but with coworkers' support, you will be able to function as a happy and healthy nurse.