The Nurse Becoming Podcast 

#094 Time Management Tips for NPs

The hidden reason behind why nurse practitioners struggle with getting their charts done on time, and being productive during their clinical day boils down to a famous quote…

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”   – Jim Rohn

Pretty true, isn’t it? 

But with soooo much on our plates in nursing, it can often feel like there’s just NOT ENOUGH time in the day!

Take charting, for example. Many, if not MOST of us are actually taking our charts home instead of feeling able to fully complete our work at work.

Back in Episode 75, Dr. Sarah Smith provided a great framework for becoming more efficient with charting… 

So in today’s episode, I’m expanding on:

  • How to set boundaries as a nurse practitioner so that you can protect your time and energy!
  • How to minimize interruptions
  • The value of proactivity
  • How Parkinson’s Law may unknowingly be making you less efficient
  • Time-bound techniques (such as the Pomodoro Method) to get your charts done, faster.

    … and more tricks for time management to help you become more productive during your clinical day!



Listen to more episodes here!


The Time Blocking Technique

Time blocking involves spending “blocks of time”, or sometimes even whole days on one themed activity. 

Now, this isn’t necessarily transferable to our nurse practitioner roles, but there are some things that NP’s can steal from this practice and implement to become more efficient. 

The reality is, when we switch back and forth between tasks or ideas, the task switching is inefficient and we lose time within doing that repetitively. So the more time that we can spend inside of one task or one concept or one skill, the better because we can easily get into a flow state and complete tasks without losing time or efficiency by switching back and forth. 

A great example of time blocking in healthcare is surgeons or providers who have procedure time. They might have themed days of the week that are designated OR days, and certain days of the week that are designated clinic days. Or, some office settings might put all their new patients on one day of the week and follow ups on another day.

Batching “like activities”, and being more efficient can really help you specifically with your charting, or your inbox management, or whatever is your “time suck of the day”.

A great way for NPs to use time blocking is for the activities outside of patient visits within the day. Task switching or going back and forth between tasks can really make us lose time and prevent us from getting into that flow state when we are nice and efficient. 


Applying Time Blocking / Batching To Minimize Distractions

We have many distractions in our day, including phone calls, emails, meetings, in basket messages – you name it! Np’s are fielding constant interruptions. So ask yourself, “What can I do to set myself up to get into a rhythm, where I have time dedicated for all the things I know will come up today?” 

Rather than being reactive – for example, rather than waiting for the notifications to pop up and responding immediately – can you be a bit more proactive, and create pockets of time, where you’re going to do one thing? 

For rather than checking your inbasket in between each patient at the expense of finishing your notes, could you plan to have three dedicated blocks of time, where you focus on just being in the in-basket? Maybe it’s the first 15 minutes of your day, 15 minutes before or after lunch, and then 30 minutes at the end of the day! 

Once you start practicing this, you’ll figure out how much time you actually need to set aside for yourself to complete your tasks. Yes, it’s easy to feel this compulsion to check all the notifications, all the time. But we will certainly be more efficient with our activities if we’re dedicating time to those activities and avoiding distractions throughout the clinical day.


Time-Bound Techniques To Get Things Done

There is a theory called Parkinson’s Law, which is the idea that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. We see this happen in the procrastinator’s tendency to complete something the night before it is due. So technically, if that’s you, you have let the project fill all that time. 

When we’re talking about time management and charting, Parkinson’s Law is really working against us if we do not decide to make some of our tasks and some of our duties time bound. How do we achieve this?

The first way is to implement basic timers. Simply observe how long you’re taking to currently do things. This means not guessing, but actually taking a day or two to track your time. Jot down your start and stop time for activities. Trust me, it will be really illuminating and will tell you where you’re actually spending your time versus where you’re perceiving you’re spending your time. 


See Where Your Time Is Actually Going…

What’s incredibly interesting about tracking your time-spend is that you may find that those things that you think are taking up a lot of your time, aren’t really… You’re just putting them off because you hate doing them, so energetically, they’re taking up a lot of your energy. Then, when you actually DO it, you find out that it didn’t take too long at all!

Once you know how long things usually take you, create some time boundaries for yourself to become more productive. For example, if you know that you can finish a chart in a certain amount of time, you can compete against yourself and say, “Okay, I’m going to set a five minute timer to finish this chart and see if I can beat the timer”. Doing this inside of time blocking can really supercharge your productivity, too!


Another timer method for increasing productivity is called the Pomodoro method… 

The Pomodoro method involves doing focused work for 15 minutes, followed by a five minute break. This method is really conducive to the human attention span because it honors those refreshing breaks that one needs to have some stamina over longer periods of time. 


Final Thoughts

They say that “time is what we want most, and what we use worst”… Maybe we don’t actually need more time, perhaps we simply just need to become more respectful of our time and more disciplined with how we use our time. 

I hope that this is helpful and I’d love to hear if you have any additional tips or tricks that help you with time management and productivity during your clinic day. Send me a DM or tag me on Instagram @theresumerx, I’d love to hear about it!