September 27, 2017 | | Comments 0
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Time management and preceptorship

This is an excerpt from The Preceptor Program Builder

The three primary tasks affecting time management in healthcare include organization, prioritization, and delegation. It is especially challenging for preceptors to manage their time when given the added responsibilities of working with preceptees. Only by developing their skills in these three tasks can preceptors gain perspective and control over their time in any effective way when working with preceptees.

The following tips should help you to manage your time more effectively:

  • For example, schedule interruptions. Do not chart every event as it occurs. Set aside time once or twice during your duty hours to stop what you are doing and update your reports:
  • Keep your work and practice settings clear and ready for action. Papers, tools and supplies, and items waiting for attention should not clutter the desk or work area but rather should be organized and easily accessible.
  • Do one thing at a time. Studies suggest that multitasking is not effective and can lead to increased errors. Complete one task before moving on to the next.
  • Determine what must be done versus what you would like to do. They are not always the same. Say “no” if you have too many duties to handle responsibly or safely. Preceptees try very hard to please preceptors, coworkers, managers, and educators. They may take on too many tasks or responsibilities if they do not know how—or when—to say “no” occasionally.
  • Avoid time wasters: the activities, things, people, habits, or attitudes that divert us from our primary objectives. They reduce our effectiveness and interfere or prevent us from completing our tasks or achieving our goals. Time wasters result from ineffective or a lack of planning, ineffective or a lack of priority setting, over commitment, clutter, interruptions, failure to delegate, unnecessary telephone calls or emails, paperwork, perfectionism, procrastination, conflict, ineffective problem-solving skills, daydreaming or escape activities, and hurrying (haste makes waste).
  • Increase time savers: the activities, things, people, attitudes, or habits that direct us to meet our primary objectives or goals. They increase effectiveness and efficiency and enhance completion of tasks. They include planning and controlling time, making lists, setting priorities, creating agendas for meetings (Do we really need to meet? How much can be done by email, for example?), handling paper only once, not procrastinating (do it now), and delegate, delegate, delegate. Preceptors and preceptees need to know how to:
  • Manage interruptions, emergencies, and crises with tact, diplomacy, and courtesy
  • Become better at solving problems and resolving conflict (use tried and true models)
  • Be assertive (say “no”)
  • Control the controllable and accept the uncontrollable
  • Keep interruptions short—be ruthless with time, generous and kind to people
  • Occasionally become invisible and not so completely available
  • Avoid getting angry or hurt if possible—these waste time and energy
  • Maintain a sense of humor
  • Remember to plan and make personal time for fun and recreational activities
  • Delegate routine tasks or projects. Set deadlines when you delegate. Ask for help from coworkers and specialists (e.g., educators) instead of trying to do everything alone. Delegate a task to your preceptees that you thought only you could do. Encourage preceptees to delegate tasks to coworkers when appropriate.

We all are given 168 hours per week, no more and no less. How we spend those hours affects our outcomes, professional and work goals, and job satisfaction. Preceptors can increase efficiency and induce wiser use of time through planning, thereby increasing productivity and decreasing stress.

Preceptors should determine the best use of time and help their preceptees do the same.

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Filed Under: Career developmentPreceptor program

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About the Author: Kenneth Michek is the Associate Editor for nurse management at HCPro.

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