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Roadblocks of time management for nurse practitioners: Social distractions

Time management for nurse practitioners

One of the major roadblocks of good time management for nurse practitioners is social distractions.

How many minutes do you spend a day talking to coworkers? How long does it take you to refocus from the “watercooler” gossip? How often do you check your phone for email or social media notifications?

Nurse practitioners have so many tasks to do on a daily basis. Not only do nurse practitioners partake in assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients, APRNs also have to document our findings. Then add on medication refills, analyzing diagnostic data, reviewing past medical records, and the never-ending patient messages.

Many clinics, hospitals, and healthcare institutions are trying to function while short staffed. There is a lack of medical assistants (MAs), nurses, even front office staff. This creates added roles that many nurse practitioners have to take on themselves. Many nurse practitioners are required to check in their own patients, draw labs or run point of care testing, and respond to patient phone calls. A lot of nurse practitioners schedule referrals for patients or complete prior auths through the patient’s insurance.

It may not be a big deal, five minutes here and a couple minutes there. But losing precious time by being distracted can cause you to be behind during the workday. Not to mention, it takes our  brain minutes to reset and regain focus  on the task at hand.

And when the workload increases, there is a decrease in good time management for nurse practitioners. APRNs do not have extra time to spare in order avoid bringing charts home. Any interruptions, such as social distractions, prevent nurse practitioners staying in time and never being caught up on charting. Through The Time Management and Chartings Tips Course, I help improve time management for nurse practitioners! (Click here to learn more about time management for nurse practitioners!)

Here are a few ways to improve time management for nurse practitioners and avoid the social distractions.

1. Tell people your plan.

I think an easy way to stick with changing a habit is to tell people your goal. Let your staff know you want to avoid any social distractions or chitchat. Tell them you are burned out. Let them know you are struggling. Make it a goal to create a better work life balance and improve time management for nurse practitioners.

Let them know you are going to avoid any kind of distractions. Give support staff a window of time such as while you’re eating lunch that you can talk about social things. Ask your nurse/medical assistant to wait until a set time to ask you any patient related questions and do it all at one time. By letting your goals and needs known, APRNs can train support staff to help you to avoid the social distractions and improve time management for nurse practitioners.

2. Set up barriers/symbols.

Sometimes a simple physical sign can help us avoid the social distractions. For example, shutting your door while you power chart. If you work in a shared workspace, put up a sign that says “do not disturb.”

Put in headphones to help you focus. You don’t even need to play any music or sound, you can just use them to help drown out the external noise. The physical barrier of headphones can also help so other people don’t bother you as much when you have the headphones in.

If you are easily distracted by social media, put your phone somewhere out of reach. Stick it in the drawer, or bag. Turn notifications off your phone. Close out email or any other distractions on your computer. Developing simple symbols or barriers can help avoid social distractions and improve time management for nurse practitioners.

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3. Remember your goals.

If you are really struggling with  work-life balance, feeling  mom guilt  for not being present with your kids,  burned out  and ready to leave healthcare. You NEED to work on the things that are burning you out. And I am going to bet time management for nurse practitioners is a big one for many NPs!

If you are spending a lot of time through social distractions, you need to remember your ultimate goal. If your goal is to be present with your kids when you get home instead of stressed about all of your open charts, then remember this when before you give in to a social distraction.

Remember: You are likely going to disappoint someone in life. In this situation you will either disappoint your coworkers because you will not give into the gossip, but you will not disappoint your family or yourself. Life is about giving and taking. We can’t make everyone happy. Remember your end goal and work towards that. It is possible to improve time management for nurse practitioners!

Utilize these three tips when working towards eliminating social distractions. Any kind of distraction is inevitable, but it is how we respond as nurse practitioners.

Now stop reading this as a distraction and get back to signing those charts!

For more time saving tips and to improve time managements for nurse practitioners, check out The Nurse Practitioner Charting School’s online course:  The Time Management and Charting Tips! 

Erica D the NP is a family nurse practitioner and The Nurse Practitioner Charting Coach. Erica helps nurse practitioners STOP charting at home! Erica created The Nurse Practitioner Charting School to be the one stop for all documentation resources created specifically for nurse practitioners. Learn more at www.npchartingschool.com

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