Good organizational skills are a key ingredient for success in nursing, where interruptions, emergencies, and unforeseen situations are all part of the job. Making the best use of your time can result in better outcomes, reduced stress, and fewer errors. Nursing is demanding both physically and mentally. Keeping organized can minimize stress and help your shift run more smoothly.
Develop a Routine
Develop a routine. Take a few minutes after you receive report to prioritize the first half of your shift. Write notes to yourself about treatments or medications that will be done out of the routine schedule, phone calls that need to be made, and other pertinent reminders. The 15 minutes you use at the start of your work day to get it all together can make the difference between a hectic or a smooth shift.
Create a standardized report sheet. Use it to prioritize your workload, write treatments, note calls you need to make, and jot special notes and other relevant information.
Always use the sheet in the same manner. That makes it easy for you to locate information at a glance. Find a method that works for you to remind you of tasks, treatments, or medications that need to be done at a certain time. Writing these procedures in red, circling them, or highlighting them all work well. Sticky notes can help as long as they don’t get lost.
Chart efficiently. Depending on what type of charting system your facility has in place, it may be most efficient for you to chart while in the patient's room. Some hospitals that use a central charting system at the nurse’s station make it necessary for you to take notes to be entered later. Keeping good clear notes will help with efficient and accurate charting.
Follow your facility's charting guidelines. Keep it accurate and concise. Don't "over chart" by putting information in more places than required.
Pay attention to how co-workers chart. Look at the methods used by well-organized co-workers and learn from them. Ask your employer to offer training on efficient charting.
Load your pockets and stock your cart. Keeping frequently used items on hand by making use of pockets and your medication cart saves time and steps. If you have everything you need before you head into a patients’ room, you won't have to make multiple trips down the hall, where you're likely to be “grabbed” for something else.
Plan ahead. If you find you are more efficient at the start of your shift, try to get ahead of yourself if possible and prepare for the last half of your shift by gathering supplies or completing other activities ahead of time.
Do what works best for you. Some nurses find it more efficient to do rounds and take care of quick tasks, before tackling procedures that take up a large block of time. When possible, try charting and making necessary phone calls during one block of time as well; this can eliminate trips back and forth to the desk.
Take your breaks. It’s easy to miss a break when you’re extremely busy but taking the time to stop for a few minutes can reduce stress and make the rest of your shift run more smoothly.
Delegate. Don’t take on the work of aides and support staff at the expense of giving nursing care. Ask for help when you need it. If you are having a difficult shift, ask for help early. Then you'll be ready to help others when they need it. And don't forget, a little "thank you" goes a long way.
Be prepared.Familiarize yourself with procedures your unit performs so you know what to expect. If you know you will be getting a new patient or assisting with a procedure, prepare as much as possible in advance. Being prepared in advance makes your shift run more smoothly and reduces stress.