Nursing is a fulfilling career, but it’s also one that demands a lot, not only due to the processes involved but also due to the sensitivity of handling lives each day. The life of a nurse can get busier when one plans to enroll in a college to further their education while working a fulltime job, and this is basically what most nurses do.
Since education is one of the factors that affect promotions, most nurses further their education while working. Others advance their education to change the work environment. Regardless of the reason, a higher degree is worth investing in, but balancing school and work is not always easy. This article highlights the key tips that can be helpful in achieving maximum productivity for those studying while working a full-time nursing job.
One of the key factors that affect productivity is time management. When you learn to manage your time well, you will achieve more and reduce stress in your life. As a working professional and student, you can manage your time well by doing some of the following:
- Getting to work early: You don’t have to be there hours earlier, but at least have an allowance so that you have enough time to get ready before your shift begins. By doing so, you will also avoid confusion that can result in you having a bad day at work. Don’t get there at the exact time when you should be starting to attend to patients.
- Have a time block for each task: Having a to-do- list isn’t enough. When you have not assigned a specific time for a task, you can easily procrastinate, even with a good list. It also helps to avoid distractions or working on too many things. Before you set the average time for each task, work with a timer to see how you spend your time. Then, find ways to cut that time where possible without, of course, affecting the quality of output or breaking the rules. This will help in saving the time that you normally waste during the day. Do this for both work and school.
- Make use of technology to help in time management: You can create your to-do-lists online, make use of online calendars, set online reminders, and make use of time management apps.
- Delegate: If you have an option to delegate, do it wisely. For a student taking an MSN program, for example, learning the rules of delegation early is a good way to prepare for a promotion as a nurse manager or any other leadership position.
Staying organized can also boost your productivity by a great degree. When you are disorganized, you waste time and you can easily get stressed. You can also affect the productivity of your workmates. You can stay organized by:
- Keeping your desk and the surrounding environment clean, clutter-free and well arranged. An untidy working space is unsightly and it can also cause accidents. Thus, keep your space at work and your study space at home clean and organized. You can add some green plants and other décor to make the space more beautiful.
- Organize your soft copy documents, software and apps too. Organization isn’t for the physical only. Work on seeing that the intangible assets are organized too. Simple things such as putting similar documents in the same folders, bookmarking the pages you visit every day and decluttering your desktop can save you time and boost your productivity.
- Get organized when it comes to the resources you use for school or work. As a nurse, you will use a couple of resources each day. Organize them in such a way that they are easily accessible. When you spend a lot of time looking for something as a patient is waiting for you to attend to them, you not only reduce your productivity, but you could also annoy the client and worse still, affect their health. Thus, liaise with everyone involved in supplying what you need to ensure you get it on time.
- The same applies to your schoolwork. Download your materials as soon as you register, get the timetable so as to know when you will be having your assignments and exams, get all the learning aids you need, and check to see if there are any student groups and forums you should join.
Breaks may feel like a waste of time, but they are actually beneficial. A person who takes regular breaks may end up more productive and less stressed than someone who does not do so. This is because when you take breaks, you give your body a chance to re-energize. You also clear the mind and this boosts your attention after the break. Breaks don’t have to be complicated. You could consider simple things such as:
- Taking a short walk during lunch breaks
- Doing some squats as you look over details for the next activity
- A couple of stretches and deep breaths after an intense session with a patient
Try and avoid anything that distracts you from your main agenda; this will boost your productivity. If it can wait, let it be until you are done with the task at hand. You can avoid distractions by turning off notifications, setting a specific time for small tasks such as replying to text messages and finding a quiet study environment.
Know Your Best Study Hours
For effective study, start by identifying your most active hours. Some people concentrate best early in the morning, others work well in the afternoon, and some are night owls. Find the working hours when your concentration is best and block that time as your study time.
Finally, don’t forget to take good care of yourself. Exercise, eat healthily and get the recommended hours of sleep every day. If you don’t get meals at work or you don’t like what is provided, carry some packed food from home to avoid unhealthy snacking. Your body needs that energy and rest for maximum productivity. Also, consider joining networking groups for nurses where you can get and share insights and encouragement. Having a mentor can help too.