Time Management

  1. Hey guys,
    Is anybody willing to share how they managed their time during nursing school? I am currently in 3rd semester (out of 4, almost there!!) and school is taking up all of my time. I know it's busy, I understand the need to set aside time and study, etc. But, I don't believe that nursing school has to CONSUME your life as it is doing right now. How did you balance school and life? How did you manage your study time?
    Thank you!
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    About jphill15

    Joined: Mar '18; Posts: 13; Likes: 4
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience


  3. by   katyq82
    I think its individualized as to what works for you... but that being said, I do feel consumed mentally by nursing school but I have other obligations so it can't be the only thing I do. I work 25-30 hours a week and have 2 kids, some of my classmates do spend 10-20 hours on a weekend studying but I just can't do that. You have to figure out how to study effectively based on how you learn.

    For me, making flashcards takes me a million years and I don't feel that I learn great that way, so I don't do them. I am a fast reader so I read the assigned reading ahead of lecture, if I have time I will make a concept map or study sheet on the topic ahead of time and add to it during lecture. I take notes during lecture and pay attention. I find that a lot of people in my class talk to other students or are always looking at their phones in class, you want to try to make good use of that time since you have to be there. Then afterwards I make a study sheet of the most important concepts. Get yourself a mental system and do each topic the same way- like "Patho", "Labs/Diagnostics", "Manifestations", "Nursing Interventions", "Meds" etc. for each topic and fill in the boxes with the most important stuff. If you don't have time to read everything assigned, read the key points at the end of the chapter, read any call out boxes or safety alerts and take any available quiz that the book has for the end of the chapter. Then just go back and read the paragraphs on what you didn't understand.

    If a certain topic is particularly tough, I watch a video and usually will draw myself a picture of what is happening in the body. That helps me make sense of it. I also watch YouTube videos while I am folding laundry to reinforce topics. I have a couple of good nursing podcasts that I download on my phone and listen to when I am driving. That way I am making good use of that time, since I have to drive a distance to/from school. I am not sure if we are allowed to link to outside resources but if it is allowed I can share the online/podcast resources that have helped me.

    I hope there was something helpful in there for you! Good luck. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!!
  4. by   akulahawkRN
    Part of "time management" is basically doing a "cost/benefit analysis" of your use of your time. Here's the reality of life: you have a finite amount of time in each day. You have 1,440 minutes available to you in each day. Now some of that time should be spent sleeping. I truly mean getting good, quality sleep. This is important. If you get 6 hours of quality sleep, you will likely feel better than if you get 8 hours of non-restful sleep. I'm sure this seems like the proverbial "no-brainer" but whatever hours of sleep you need, you need to do everything you can to ensure that your sleep is actually restful. Not getting enough good sleep is a recipe for burnout. I learned this the hard way. Once you know how much good sleep you need, you need to be as protective of that as your kids because it's that important. Good sleep will help your brain do a lot of important "housekeeping" to ensure that you remember what you have been taught, among other things.

    Another thing that you will know once you have determined how much good sleep you will need is how much time you have available during your waking hours to do other things. If it is a school day for you, you're locked into a certain amount of time to be in class. When you're there, be in class. I don't just mean physically but actually be mentally focused and present.

    For studying, it's not a function of how much time you spend studying, but how effectively you use your study time. In my case, I had to work a full-time job while going to school full-time. That was tough. Fortunately for me, I was able to do some study during work. My job was one that allowed me to study there as long as it didn't impact my work performance. I rarely read all the assigned material in-depth. Here's how I managed to do very well most of the time: I would read the syllabus for what topics we were covering and then I would quickly read the material. I'm not reading for max understanding, I'm just reading to "see what's there" to prime my brain for the next step. I would then download any material that was available for the assignment. My program usually put all the lecture material on a protected class website, sometimes they'd have all the materials for the semester there. Then I'd print out the relevant pages for lecture so that I could write on the pages. Then go to class. In class we'd go over the material the professors wanted us to know, and I'd write the highlights of the lecture down. Here's the key part: when I go home (or to work on work days) I would then review my notes and the specific material in the book about those things covered in class and this time I'm reading for good comprehension. This means I've now seen the material at least twice, if not three times.

    Lastly, the day before an exam, I would review the notes that I took and revisit (in notes and textbook) anything that didn't seem to be well understood. I would spend no more than a couple hours doing this. Most of the time, I'm spending no more than a couple hours per day studying. Doing care plans is a slightly different thing and I budget a different amount of time specifically for doing those. For those, I budgeted about 4 hours each for my first couple, because I had to learn where to look up the information. Eventually I got good enough at them that I'd budget about an hour for each. Most of the time I would end up completing all 4 in half that time. This naturally happens as you gain the knowledge needed to fill them out and what each professor is looking for in your care plans.

    Now here's the last part of the whole thing: remember that cost/benefit analysis I mentioned earlier? You need to decide how much studying is worth it to you vs obtaining a particular grade. I got solid "B" grades throughout school. I couldn't get anything lower than a 75% or that was considered a "fail" for a given exam or class. Sure, I could have spent more time studying and going after the minutae of things and gotten straight "A" grades but that would have eaten into work time, sleep time, or family time and I didn't have much time available for "family" because the rest of my time was already spoken for. You don't need to be the smartest, most knowledgeable one in class. You do have to know what you're doing and where to find the answers to things and how to think through problems. That last bit is the most important of all. The nursing school is for learning a process through which to think through problems. If your brain is too tired because you're spending too much time overloading it, you will have a difficult time learning the process.
  5. by   jphill15
    Thank you SO freaking much.
  6. by   jphill15
    THANK YOU!!!
  7. by   jphill15
    @katyq82 would you be able to share those resources? I've found a few podcasts that are helpful but I would love to listen to more. I'll listen to them in the car, too, or at the gym/when I have downtime
  8. by   LPN1118
    I didn't realize their were nursing podcasts but I will be checking them out. I record my professors lectures and listen to them while Im driving to get some studying time in.
  9. by   chitchatkat
    Congratulations on getting where you are right now. Life is short. If you can allow nursing school to consume your life-do it! I have been out of school for 14 years, but what is odd is how much I rmbr from school. So often theoretical information or certain topics pop in my head.

    My best advice is to let nursing be your art. You are a student of a an amazing science working to not just save a life but to improve many lives. So, take your knowledge and share w others. Teach others. I used to pretend to teach the pathophysiology to my fake audience. Also listening to recorded classes is so helpful. I needed to do note cards(reluctantly) bcs they were effective for my learning style. I was a gr8 reader but my mind would travel. I have actually referred and read to my books post college graduation. Keep In contact with your professors. Ask them some stupid question that you have. This is because you may need their Reference someday in the future. They will remember you(linkedIn Connection)- and Nurse educators are happy to share info reregarding how much time to to studying specific topics. Pm me if you want to have an audience to teach some of your study material.
    I am running behind but have more suggestions. Keep Up the Good work!