Times flies, but you don't have to

Nurse Leader Insider, March 5, 2007

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As a nurse manager, your daily pace can be brutal and time can seem to fly by. You balance the needs of staff and patients, and somehow manage to get your work done in between.

Time spent on yourself, however, can make a huge difference in your professional life. By taking 10 - 20 minutes a day away from work, you can improve productivity, increase patient satisfaction, and help boost staff morale.

"When you're quiet and away from work, you can be creative, you can see solutions, and get new ideas," says Terri Levine, CEO of the Coaching Institute in North Wales, PA. "You can get reconnected with your passion."

Signs that you need me-time
Twenty minutes away from work can prevent many interoffice problems and stave off burnout, says Kristin Thalheimer, a business and personal coach for Our Life Business in Somerville, MA.

Thalheimer and Levine say you need to add me-time to your schedule if you find yourself

* frustrated with your daily pace
* apathetic about your work and patients
* impatient and short-tempered with staff
* always tired
* dreading the next morning of work
* constantly thinking about what you need to do

In addition to experiencing these symptoms, you may be engaging in other behaviors that you know are unhealthy, but provide comfort and release.

"For example, if going and getting a couple of cookies feels like it's going to be your only stress-release moment, or getting that third or fourth cup of coffee is your only breather, there is a real need to transfer that comfort to something much healthier for you," Thalheimer says.

Nearing burnout can also be a serious detriment to staff retention. If your staff are ill-treated, they might leave in hopes of finding a more positive working environment. You could even lose your most well-trained staff members to the competition.

How to find me-time
You have to allow yourself to create me-time. Put time for breaks in your daily schedule so you remember to take them. You can even send reminders to yourself when necessary.

If 20 minutes seems too large a chunk of time to take all at once, break it up into two 10 minute sessions, Thalheimer suggests. Try one break midmorning, and then another in the afternoon.

These short respites may be a good way to begin when first taking me-time, as they will give you something to look forward to during an especially difficult day.

Source: The Physician's Personal Advisory, supplement to The Doctor's Office, March 2007, HCPro, Inc.


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