8 Time-Saving Tips for Online Nursing Students

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time management tips for nursesWhen you’re working and going to school, you need to maximize your efficiency to the fullest extent possible. Every minute matters. So, to help you make the most of your precious time, we’ve compiled some tips to help you be a more productive student.

Review how you use your time.

Write down everything you do for at least one week. Time management author Laura Vanderkam advocates logging your time use in 30-minute increments on a spreadsheet. After one week, sort your time use into categories. Yes, this task may sound like a pain in the posterior at first, but the effort will be worth it.

Vanderkam says many people make some discoveries, such as, we all have stretches of time that we can’t account for. Also, we may watch television much more than we think we do. And while it’s OK to have some downtime, seeing just how much time is spent on nonessential tasks can be eye-opening.

Use short blocks of time constructively.

You know those 15 minutes you spend waiting in the lobby at the dentist’s office? Or the five minutes standing in line at the grocery store? Or how about the 30 minutes on the treadmill at the gym? Make every minute count by being prepared. Bring a book or ebook with you wherever you go and read a few pages here and there.

Plan your week when you’re rested.

Design author David Kadavy recommends planning out your week when your brain is refreshed for better results. He suggests setting time aside at the start of your week to reflect on your overarching goals and what needs to get done. The prefrontal cortex is in charge of prioritizing and planning, he explains, but it also tires easily. And when it’s tired, it’s easily distracted and more interested in checking Facebook. So do your heavy-lifting brainwork when you’re less taxed.

Set calendar alerts.

Technology now makes it much easier to set up reminders to do tasks. Some tools Vanderkam recommends are FollowUpThen and Remember the Milk. Beyond the obvious benefits of being reminded to do something, these tools act as cues to trigger a habit. Vanderkam refers to how Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit,” introduced the concept of creating a habit cycle with a cue, a response and a reward. She says the calendar or email alert can become the cue to form a habit.

And Kadavy says your brain is malleable and changes throughout your life. As a result, each time you perform a thought or action, you make it easier for your brain to reproduce that thought or action, he says. So the good news is you can form new, positive habits.

Trick yourself.

The Procrastination Monster is a nursing student’s worst enemy. One way to defeat the monster is to just get started doing something. Kadavy recommends working on a simple goal for 10 minutes without stopping. When your brain tries to resist, reassure it that you’ll only be doing the task for 10 minutes. Once you’re 10 minutes into working on your task, he explains, it’s easier to continue working on it.

Use a daily checklist.

John D. Moore, a psychology professor at American Military University, says the best time management tool a student can use is a daily checklist. Moore suggests students write out a to-do list for the next day using pen and paper before going to bed. It organizes your thoughts and the payoff is crossing an item off once it’s complete.

Turn off social media.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but the distraction of Facebook or Pinterest does not help a nursing student study effectively. Moore recommends turning off all social media distractions when you hunker down to study. “Essay writing while having social media open is a recipe for failure,” he says.

Research from Stanford University supports his claim. Multitasking was found to be less productive than focusing on one thing at a time. Even worse, the researchers found that people who regularly multitask actually lowered their IQ.

Reward yourself.

Last but not least, don’t forget to reward yourself when you complete an assignment or complete a difficult task. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but make sure you celebrate your accomplishments by doing an activity you enjoy or rewarding yourself with a treat like a pedicure.

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