Stuck in Meetings- 3 Things to Save Nurse Leaders Time

Stuck in Meetings ALL DAY Long

Ah, yes. The life of a nursing leader. From my own experience in nursing administration, I know that the higher up you get in the nursing field, the more meetings are on your plate.

In fact, (and I hope to still do this one day) I was talking with my business coach about The Art of Nursing program. I was telling her how hard it is to secure time on a nurse leader’s calendar. And she and I envisioned a funny video asking “Have you heard about The Art of Nursing? Of course not! You’ve been stuck in meetings all day!”

But I digress. Let’s get back on topic here…

If you are a nursing leader, then your calendar is quite full. One of the responsibilities that comes along with nursing leadership is agendas, minutes, and meetings most of the day. How can anyone get any work done if they are spending time in back-to-back meetings?

Leverage Your Time, Nursing Leaders

Well, we’ve got you covered!

Both from a personal obsession with organization and a professional background in business and entrepreneurship, I can certainly speak to a couple of time-savings tips that will support a nurse leader’s calendar.

And your homework… Yes, there is homework (but no quiz). Do ONE of the things on this list! Just one. And I promise you, in the next week, your time and your calendar will thank you. Here we go…

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1) Keep Track of Things That Batch. 

What do I mean by this? Well, here is an example from personal experience.

I have worked in a nursing research program as a… well, here’s a catchy title… a research program coordinator. Like that? All jokes aside, I routinely was asked a LOT of the same questions.

What forms do I need to start an IRB? What training is required of me to participate in a study? How do I know if my project is research or quality improvement?

So, here is what I did. I wrote one email. And then I batched it.

Each time that the same (or similar) question came in, I already had the response ready. And yes, you can do this for any role that fields any type of questions. Think about your job. What do you get asked at least once a week, maybe more?

Those are the types of things that you want to batch write about.

Now, of course… you will edit the emails for any particulars. But at least you have the bones already typed out, saving you minutes or even hours. Trust me, people would often say to me, “Wow, thanks for the timely response!’ And trust me… they meant it.

Email comes in. I pull up my email response list. Set one up. Edit it for specificity. Send! Seconds and I have already responded. Cuts back on time in the email box as well. Which yes… Don’t get me started. Or let’s!

2) Stay On Top of Your Inbox.

I mean it. I know. I know. You don’t like email. It comes all of the time. There’s junk everywhere. So, right on you are… But here are going to be several, that is right… several all in one, tips for you to use regarding your email inbox!

First of all, when you get junk, take the few seconds to either unsubscribe, block, or junk folder it. Trust me. Even just taking the time to unsubscribe (I know, why and how did they get your name on their list??) will save you hours in the long run. Block things that are spam. Forward things to junk folders so they wind up there automatically. Do all that you can to eliminate junk from your inbox.

Next, create folders. And use them!

I have walked by colleagues’ desks and looked over their shoulders and am MORTIFIED at what I see. Thousands of emails all living in their inboxes with NO folders set up in the side bar!! This is just ludicrous. You NEED folders.

In fact, I have a folder for every speaking event, every Art of Nursing year, and every project I take on. A brand new folder. Because if that person comes to me and asks me something about their particular program, you think I want to search for hours in my inbox to find the last thing I said to them?

Get rid of junk mail. Organize your folders. And one final point- check email at regular intervals on a schedule. One reason that you feel like you are “on email all day” is because in some cases, you are.

I have seen business owners go as far as putting up auto-responders that say something like, “Thank you so much for your email. In order to do the work I need to get done, I have committed to checking and responding to email at 1000 and 1700 daily. I will get back to you in these time frames. If you need something more urgent, then please reach me at (XXX)-XXX-XXXX.”

Easy as pie! Now they are not living in their email all day. They are not feeling sucked into the rabbit hole of emails constant, nonstop time. And they are getting work done outside of their inbox! Who would have thought!?!

3) Use Naming Conventions.

If you are like me, then you likely have a lot of files. Agendas, minutes, memos, grants, policies, scopes- should I keep going? Nah.

So, another thing I have watched people waste SO MUCH TIME on is searching for things. You know, a person calls your office and says, “Hey, Mary. Do you have that Executive Summary that the chair wanted us to review before that meeting?” (Unfortunately, Mary does not have a naming structure either.)

Being a good colleague, you respond (without really thinking about how much time this will take you), “Sure, I will send it right over to you.” No you won’t! You cannot find it. It will be close to the end of the day before you have located it and now you have wasted time all over your hard drive.

Now, yes. I do realize that handouts or other items get sent to you with the naming structure already on there. But you can edit that document before you save it. And you can do so in such a way that you will remember and find.

I like to give mine a date. So, for example: YYMMDD_A NAME THAT MAKES SENSE AND I WILL REMEMBER. Let’s do a real one:

170803_Insulin Study Phase 3 Raw Data

You think I will find that? And let’s add a bonus tip here, just for fun. Your folders on your drive. They need to be named too! And you need to PUT the files into the folders accordingly.

If you have extraneous files all over your drive with no folders, no naming conventions… Of course you can never find anything!

Maybe it’s just my type-A, organized self… but sheesh. I would not want to waste time doing any of the above!! I need to get to my next meeting…

Let’s hear from you! What do you do to save time? Can you share a tip with nurse leaders reading so that they have more time to do the work that they love to do? Leave a comment and thank you for reading.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RNAbout the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.