January is officially “Get Organized” month. It signals a fresh start. We throw out old stuff, make room for new, and get ready to tackle the upcoming year. For nurses, it means wrangling in all the things we do throughout the course of our days and weeks, taking a step back to assess it all, and putting together a plan. Here are seven things to do this month to prepare for a great year:
Update Your Work Wardrobe
Have you taken a good look at your scrubs recently? It’s always nice to start off the new year with a crisp uniform and new shoes. Make room in your closet by getting rid of any nursing scrubs that are not up to standard and replace them with newer styles that have ample pockets and clips to help you keep your most necessary supplies always on hand.
Get a Head Start on the Shift
You know that the changeover between shifts is one of the most hectic times of the day. You also know that the nurse you are relieving is in a rush to give you whatever information you need so that they get out of there. Rather than let that rush start your shift off on a bad note, make a commitment to yourself to arrive a few minutes early to get into work mode first. This gives you a head start on starting your shift in an organized way.
Make Your Work Station Work For You
The floor nurse station can be a scene of chaos, especially when you have a number of nurses in and out during one shift. If possible, set aside an area that is all your own and organize it before getting started on each shift. Having your work materials always readily available in the same place during your work day will help you to keep up to speed on all of your tasks.
Stay on the Move with an Organized Rolling Cart
It may seem easier for nurses who go around with a rolling cart to keep track of all of their supplies, but most are not built with that type of space in mind. If you do happen to work with one that has room between the wheels and the table, fasten a plastic file cabinet to the base. Bungee cords can be used to hold it in place, and you end up with a rolling cart with drawers to hold all of your work equipment.
Make Your Charts Colorful
When filling in your own notes to refer to on a patient chart, it’s a good idea to assign different colors for different information. For example, if you are writing down what the patient is telling you, click over to red, and then back to blue when noting your own assessment. This makes it easier to keep your thoughts and facts organized for later when it’s time to fill in the official paperwork.
Use a Daily Calendar
Use a pocket calendar to help keep up with your day to day tasks and activities. Here you can keep track of the doctors on call during your shift, the patients assigned to you and any important events that took place during your shift. This will help to make your shift run smoother as well as keep pertinent information handy if you need to refer back a few days.
Restock Before You Leave
When possible, you should always take a few minutes before leaving to re-stock your nursing station or cart. Even if you found it half empty when you arrived at work it is still in good taste to leave the incoming nurses with all that they will need. Create a positive work environment in this way, and hopefully it will catch on with the nurses you are replacing at the start of your shift.
Staying organized becomes a habit over time, especially when what you need is always right where you expect it to be. As a busy nurse, this habit will be invaluable in helping to make sure that all of your work is always accomplished, and that each shift is a smooth one. What do you do to stay organized?