Nurses - Increase Your Productivity
We are nurses. We are busy, constantly. Whether at work or home, our to-do list is constantly growing. Are you running in circles or crushing your goals? With so many tasks looming overhead it can become easy to lose focus and get distracted.
When my productivity was declining (but I felt as though I was hustling hard all day) I knew it was time to find a new way of accomplishing my daily goals. I very much enjoy my freelance lifestyle and working from home, but without some self discipline and productivity tools, the day can be a total wash. I needed to start assessing what I was dedicating my time to all day. Here, is where I came across the idea of time-tracking. While this may not be a new idea, I've had a lot of success using this practice and you can too! The best part? It can be used for almost all the roles you juggle.
"Time is money, an old saying, has been widely used in most cultures and languages for ages. Today, in a world of business and a crazy pace, time is more valuable than ever. The rhythm of our century puts us in a place where we have no choice but to start planning and tracking our time. It becomes really crucial when you build your business or start off as a freelancer." (Forbes.com, 2016)
How it Works
To put it plainly, time tracking is the documenting of your daily activities.The general idea of time tracking is you record what you are doing, as you do it. Then one can analyze how much time is being spent per task versus your goals for the day. However, it can also be used as a way to plot out your desired schedule and timeline for future workloads, ensuring you stay efficient. Several systems exist to aid you in your quest for productivity. Ways to track your time include:
- Old School (Pen & Paper!)
- Electronic Spreadsheet
- Mobile App
- Download Automatic Tracker Software (On Your Computer)
My favorite? A blend of the spreadsheet and paper method. I simply went to Google Sheets and found the Daily Schedule template (feel free to choose whatever online template suits you best). The form is broken down by half hour. I made a few tweaks to fit my personal needs, re-labeled it Time Tracker and hit print. I have it on my desk each week and fill out as I go. Little tip - use a pencil. Save yourself the despair of having the page stare back at you through a quarter pound of white out. Plans change. Erase, rewrite, move on!
Measuring your time and efforts can go a long way. Seeing on paper how much time you are dedicating to one task can help push you into high gear. Without plotting out your activities (either ahead of time or as you go) can lead to a lot of floundering, especially if you work from home. It's incredibly easy to get distracted from a task you might not really be motivated to finish in the first place. For example, if you know you have a writing deadline approaching but are having trouble finishing the piece, it somehow gets really easy to put any other possible task in the way. Children, housework, pets, phone calls, emails, social media accounts, exercise - while all important, can be massive distractions that would otherwise be limited if you were working anywhere but your home. Put these tasks in their place, along with others that are work related. Putting time aside to complete work related tasks can actually provide you with more time to do what you really enjoy. Using time tracking can increase your efficiency, productivity, interest, and confidence. It feels good to beat the clock!
Tracking your time works wonders for freelancers working from home. However, this simple practice can be utilized for a number of different daily activities.
- Students can benefit from taking all of their upcoming daily tasks (class, study, assignments, etc) and plotting out how much time they would like to dedicate to each. This can help to assure no area is lacking and also motivate to complete work to be done.
- Many nurses balance their career with family and home life. This approach can even be used to manage tasks around the home. Have you ever had a day where the whole house needs cleaning but you find yourself organizing a single closet or drawer for way too long? Not anymore. It could even be used to help organize you when planning an event. Time tracking will help you stay focused on your original goals and keep you moving through your list of tasks.
- Other nursing roles away from the bedside, such as case management or leadership can also benefit from the time tracking habit.
What are your methods for keeping yourself accountable and productive? Have you ever used time tracking?
Forbes: 20 Of The Best Time Tracking Tools To Increase Your Productivity
Hubstaff: What is Time Tracking?
About Ashley Hay, BSN, RN
Freelance healthcare writer, editor, public speaker and owner of AHayWriting.com with over a decade of nursing experience in several areas of pediatric & adult oncology.
Joined: Aug '16; Posts: 88; Likes: 324
Freelance Healthcare Writer & Pediatric Oncology RN
Specialty: 10 year(s) of experience in OncologyMar 16I agree, Ashley Hay. My brother is a life coach. He shared a spreadsheet with 15-minute intervals. It helped me figure out my priorities. I say I want to do X, Y and Z, but where do I spend my time? Functioning without a to-do list is frustrating. Having a to-do list provides satisfaction when a chore is marked off. I also follow this tip I found in a time management article. Pick the chore you least want to perform. Tackle it first. This provides a sense of accomplishment and makes everything else a breeze.