When I was in elementary school, I was sitting on my front step at home, feeling bored and saying something like “I wish I had something to do” and “the days are so long.” To which my elderly next-door neighbor replied, “Enjoy that feeling.” The older you get, the faster the time passes. How right she was! The older I grew, the more I found myself saying, “There are not enough hours in a day.” Time management is more than an art—It is a way of life. Days that are bursting with professional obligations, filled with e-mails, meetings, deadlines, unexpected interruptions, or caring for patients, families, and ourselves. What if there is a desire to volunteer, to want to belong to a committee, to serve on a board for a national organization, to be able to make a difference, to do more? Is “not enough time” holding you back from being the person you want to be?
A wise person once said, if you only look at the end goal or outcome, it can often be overwhelming. No one goes out one day and runs a marathon, does research, writes a journal article, or becomes President of a worldwide nursing organization. Instead, it begins small and builds up a foundation of experience, practice, and achievements, leading to an attainable outcome. It starts with a plan, an observation, an abstract derived from data, or a poster presentation. It is being a part of a task force, a member of a committee, or becoming a board member—Some steps built upon each other to achieve a goal.
I have always been an advocate of making lists. I discovered that making a list, including what needs to be done, such as meetings, reports, etc., and any sought-after short-term goals with a timeline such as writing an abstract or journal article, has been very useful. A list creates structure, which is calming and helps keep everything in perspective. This is especially helpful when there are feelings of chaos, with so many things to do. It provides an element of control. There is also a sense of accomplishment when something is crossed off as completed. The key is to develop a way to prioritize that works for you. Simply making a list without a system for prioritizing can be frustrating and discouraging. More importantly, if the list is created with priorities in ranking order: major, medium, to smaller tasks, it helps a person stay focused on the goal(s).
When priorities and the time to do something are scheduled, there is less of a tendency to multitask. Multitasking, contrary to popular belief, doesn't save time. This might not seem obvious when doing simple tasks like watching television while folding laundry, but when performing more complex tasks, we become less efficient and are more likely to make a mistake (Mental Health; Cleveland Clinic, 2021). A difficult or intricate task requires a specific mindset and should be done all at once before moving to the next task. Another recommendation when scheduling priorities is to complete a difficult task first. When finished, only the easier tasks are left, creating a more enjoyable experience (Lanterna, 2015). This also applies to doing something over a period of time. For example, suppose you schedule time in a day to write each component of an abstract (background, objective, methods, results, and conclusion) over several weeks. In that case, an abstract could be ready for submission prior to the deadline and with less stress.
As lists with timelines and priorities are developed, adding to the schedule to participate on a task force, a committee, or to become involved with STN, all to grow professionally, will benefit both the organization and you as a member. Like everything else, to start with an idea, area, or topic that drives you or what you are passionate about makes the feeling of success even sweeter. There are so many STN opportunities! For example, special interest groups, committees, and online learning such as the monthly webinars and the research modules, where you can learn how to get started from several nursing research experts to publish in the Journal of Trauma Nursing. Once more involved, it is easy to feel a sense of belonging and commitment to the organization, and for some, to want to be a member of the STN Board, which is an amazing experience. One where dedication and focus are on STN members, trauma nursing, and ensuring optimal trauma care to all people is paramount.
To feel successful, accomplished, and, most importantly, fulfilled is a mindset. By prioritizing goals, developing and implementing a plan in a way that is visible will help make them more tangible and realistic. Practicing how to prioritize gives many opportunities to achieve goals, which results in feeling successful and, in turn, creates a positive feeling. This, by human nature, makes us want to have that confident feeling more often until it's a part of who we are and what we do every day. Make time work for you—to be the person you want to be.
Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Why multitasking doesn't work. Mental Health. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/science-clear-multitasking-doesnt-work/
Lanterna. (2015). Worst things first—How doing the hardest task first can boost your productivity. Retrieved from https://www.lanternaeducation.com/blog/worst-things-first-boost-productivity/