Studying for a Career in Healthcare? Here’s How to Manage Your Time Wisely

Working in the healthcare industry can be a daunting task at times. It is often difficult to manage time well, as healthcare workers may have many things on their plates. In addition to working with their colleagues and patients, some also have to collect vast amounts of data.

Managing your time can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Students who are working toward a healthcare degree may feel overwhelmed by the challenge of completing their studies, placements, and day-to-day work or responsibilities. However, you can rest assured that managing your time as you complete your degree will give you all the time management skills you will need in your healthcare career. In short, your ABSN studies can help you learn how to keep your time in check.

Planning a schedule

The first thing to do when managing time is to plan a schedule for what you will do during the day. Your schedule can cover as many tasks as you want or need to complete. Everything you put in your schedule should be relevant to whatever you’re trying to study, but you need to keep your expectations reasonable. Don’t take on more work than you can reasonably manage, as this may lead to burnout. Instead, try to design your schedule around your priorities, and try to keep your days balanced – don’t set yourself 20 tasks on one day, and just three on the next, as you may find yourself either overworking or getting distracted.

If you can learn how to schedule your life while studying, it will help you attain a suitable work-life balance when you are working full-time. While your studies might take up most of your time, you’ll need to look at other things in your life and how you’re going to stop yourself from overworking.

It is also essential to consider how your nursing work can change. Most healthcare job roles will require you to work shifts, which will change based on your rota and staff availability. Shift work is a common issue in nursing, as people are often expected to be available around the clock, so it helps to be prepared before you start working.

Here are a few tips for getting your schedule ready.

  • Look for something that provides a suitable rhythm for work and study. Whether it’s studying in a different room or location or having a specific routine or meal before you start your shift, it’s often helpful to draw a line between your free time and your schedule.
  • Schedule your classes and other work duties together when possible. Keeping everything together helps you keep going when you have the most momentum.
  • Limit time spent on unhealthy habits or distractions. Social media and other activities might be a good way to unwind, but if you don’t vary your downtime you can find yourself unsatisfied and unfulfilled.

Early arrivals help people prepare

Many individuals find it easier to prepare for work when they arrive early. Arriving even ten minutes early for work can make a positive impact, as it gives individuals time to prepare, both physically and mentally. An early arrival gives healthcare workers time to ensure they have everything they need for the day ahead. Some healthcare workers will also get changed into their uniforms at work, so arriving before their shifts start means they don’t have to rush. It also helps to take the time to prepare for a long shift by having a snack or catching up with coworkers, which helps to put you in a good mood for the rest of your day.

You can learn how to handle this aspect of time management while studying for your ABSN by previewing what you will learn to give yourself a frame of reference for what you need to study.

Using priorities for better multitasking

Multitasking is critical for healthcare workers, but it’s often easy to mess it up. The problem with multitasking is how it creates attention residue. This occurs when you’re shifting between tasks and start thinking about projects other than those you’re currently trying to handle.

Sometimes a healthcare employee will have multiple tasks to complete during a work shift. Establishing priorities can reduce the risk of attention residue while on the job.

You can prioritize your duties by breaking your tasks down into these four categories:

  • Tasks that are important, and urgent
  • Tasks that are urgent, but important
  • Tasks that are important, but not urgent
  • Tasks that are not urgent, and not important

Tasks that are both important and urgent are the tasks you should prioritize and complete first, while unimportant and un-urgent tasks can wait until you have the time to complete them.

You may find that some priorities aren’t as essential as you assume. Your work is about providing help for clients while making work easier on you and everyone else in your setting.

This strategy can also work when you’re studying for your ABSN. You can consider the essential studies you have and figure out which tasks are most important and what needs to be resolved right now. Spacing tasks properly is vital for helping you focus on the essentials.

Technology can help

Sometimes technology can help you manage workplace tasks faster than you expect. For example, you can use online appointment programs to review patient data before they arrive. A program could also allow the patient to provide data when necessary.

Technology helps you manage your time by simplifying multiple work tasks. You’ll have more control over how you handle your data, and it will be easier for you to prepare for your day.

Using the study cycle

One way you can learn about time management while studying involves mastering the study cycle. The study cycle is a process you can use for studying that involves five steps:

  1. Preview the content you’re going to learn.
  2. Attend your class.
  3. Review the information you gathered during your class.
  4. Study a few times each week. You can study for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
  5. Check how well you’re handling what you learned. Test yourself and review how well you can manage your data.

The study cycle helps you manage your time by giving you a schedule for studying and analyzing what you learn. You can use this to retain what you’re learning to keep wasted time to a minimum. This effort can improve your time management skills by giving you more control over how you learn things.

Routines are essential

Every nurse or nursing student can benefit from routines. Routinization is a process wherein you repeat things that are working in your work or study efforts. The repetition can occur through a systematic effort that helps you see what you’re doing while finding a way to manage your work.

For example, an online ABSN program might include studies on how to support aging patients. A program like one from Rockhurst University may feature courses on lab and clinical practices you can follow. You might discover a particular way of managing lab work that is easy to follow. It could involve collecting data from patients or performing tests and analyzing content, for example.

Once you discover a way of studying or working that suits you, you can start developing it into a routine that helps you handle data well. You will have an easier time managing your work if you have a routine that is reasonable and easy to complete.

You may come across some tasks that become routine to the point where they might seem repetitive. At this point, you may wish to start delegating tasks to other people.

Proper delegation is critical

Delegation is necessary in the healthcare world. Workers will have to complete various tasks regardless of their position or standing, and nurses and doctors often have to delegate duties to various people.

Here are some tips for delegating work projects effectively.

  • Consider how intense you expect a project to be. Anything that is minor or doesn’t require much skill will be easier to delegate to other people.
  • Think about how you can teach specific skills to people. Any skills you teach must be relevant to whatever project you want to delegate to others. You can delegate certain tasks to others if you’re capable of teaching them how to manage those projects.
  • Make sure whomever you delegate a task to understands what you require. It’s easier to delegate work when everyone understands what is happening and what is expected. It is also helpful to explain to people why you’re outsourcing.
  • Check the quality of the work once it is completed and provide feedback to the individual if you observe anything of note.
  • Avoid asking people to do more than they can manage. While you can allow certain people to handle one or two tasks, you don’t want to overburden someone with more responsibilities than they can realistically take on.

Delegation gives you time to handle more tasks and enables you to feel comfortable about what you’re doing in the healthcare workplace environment. You’ll feel better about what is happening when you see what works.

Blocking time

You won’t be able to delegate everything in the workplace or your life. You’ll have to block enough pieces of time off to help you succeed in your work and studies.

Time blocking is an appealing solution that helps you review what you’ll do during specific points in the day. Whether it involves planning your studies or figuring out what tasks you’ll manage in the work environment, blocking time is necessary to arrange what you plan to do.

Here are a few steps to follow when blocking time.

  1. Figure out a list of things to do during the day.
  2. Categorize everything in terms of what is more important or essential.
  3. Block out enough time in the day for each task. You can block out as many hours as necessary for certain items on your list.
  4. All tasks should be worked on during their assigned time block.
  5. You can always move onto the next block if you finish something early. Stick to your schedule as much as possible, although you might need some extra time to concentrate on something that is more complex.

Blocking time is necessary for helping you succeed by keeping your time under control. You can use time blocks to sort tasks and figure out a study plan.

Manage your expectations

The next thing to do for managing time in nursing is to look at your expectations. You might anticipate accomplishing certain things when studying, but you cannot assume everything will work as well as you hope.

Be ready to look at your expectations and how you’re going to handle your work. Remember when studying that your studies will be your main focus in life for the coming months. Sometimes, you might spend at least 40 hours a week studying, and that might not include the in-class work you complete.

An ABSN program requires your undivided attention. Be ready to look at your life expectations when studying or getting ready to start working. Consider what you plan to do, and think about how you’re going to handle your studies from the start.

Refine processes

One part of studying for your ABSN involves looking at how you’ll manage various processes. You might handle many tasks, like starting an IV or giving medications to patients. These practices are critical for helping people, but they often take more time to manage than you expect.

You’ll have to refine whatever processes you use to manage your time well. Your studies can involve practicing how to handle regular nursing tasks, including how to schedule them and what materials are necessary for the work. Be aware of what you will need to do and figure out a plan for managing your processes the right way.

Be willing to say no

Finally, make sure that you are not overextending yourself by committing to doing too many things at one time. Taking on more work than necessary makes it harder to succeed. Your schedule might also become strained to the point where you don’t have enough time to complete the most essential tasks on your list.

The best thing to do here is to learn how to say no. Be willing to decline certain tasks or duties if possible. You can ask to delay certain things if necessary, but make sure you look at what you’re going to handle at any moment.

What does studying for your degree have to do with time management?

In today’s world, where many graduates are simultaneously focusing on their studies, work, and families, time management is a crucial skill in attaining a degree. Before you even begin working in healthcare, you will often have gained the time management experience and know-how that is essential to this line of work simply by completing your degree.

While an ABSN will give you the technical grounding that you need for a job in nursing, the fact that you have navigated a demanding few years of study and work will prepare you for your work. When studying for your ABSN, be sure to look at how you’re managing your knowledge and studying. You’ll find that many measures for handling tasks during this time can positively influence how well you manage your nursing work. In other words, the lessons you learn while studying can carry over to your work as a professional nurse.