6 Tips to Master Time Management in Nursing School

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Nursing school involves a host of responsibilities that can make anyone question why there are only 24 hours in a day. This is especially true if you’re on the fast track to earning your nursing degree, which is why time management in nursing school is crucial. Students in Utica’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program in New York, for example, are on a tight schedule as they juggle online nursing coursework, simulation lab practice and clinical experiences throughout the central part of the state.

Why Is Time Management Important in Nursing School?

As you probably gathered, nursing school can be a lot to balance. Not only will you be juggling regular coursework assignments and exams, you’ll also be doing lab work at our program site in Syracuse and clinical rounds at top healthcare facilities across central New York. Because the Utica ABSN program takes a traditional four-year program and condenses it into 16 months, you’ll have a large amount of material to learn in a short amount of time.

Managing your time well can be the key to your success in nursing school. But by taking control of the hours you have in a day, you’ll be able to breathe a little easier and stay on track while enrolled in the program.

Consider these 6 nursing school time management tips to help you organize your time in nursing school:

1. Keep a Schedule

At the beginning of each semester, one of the first things you should do is review your syllabi for important dates like assignment deadlines, exam dates and clinical hours and add them to your various planning devices: appointment book, smartphone, tablet, wall calendar, etc. Set up electronic alerts when possible to remind you of future tasks so you’re not completely going by memory. Remember: time management and nursing students go hand in hand.

2. Plan Your Meals

How do you manage time in nursing school if you’re going hungry or worrying about spending money on eating out?

Avoid going hungry or using precious study time to make dinner. Instead, plan your meals ahead of time. Create a shopping list during the week and hit the grocery store on the weekend. Prepare dishes such as soups, roasts or casseroles well in advance so all you have to do is heat the meal before hitting the books again. If you have an especially busy day, plan to order in the night before. If you’re going to be on campus all day, prepare small meals that you can take with you such as trail mix, fruit, vegetables, and hummus and chips.

3. Stay Organized

Taking time at the beginning of each week to organize your school and personal responsibilities can save you a lot of time and frustration in nursing school. Establish the tasks you need to get done that week and make to-do lists for each day. Keep your supplies and study materials organized and in a designated location so you can quickly pick up where you left off.

nursing student studying with book and laptop

“My advice to the students applying is don’t procrastinate. Do everything on time and don’t wait until the last minute because you feel the pressure. The e-Learning platform we use has a calendar that tells you what you have for the week and I start doing one thing at a time and I get through my assignments of the week. You have to make some time for your studying and reading your books. It is possible.”

- Catalina Echeverri Castano, December 2019 Graduate of Utica ABSN

4. Be Flexible

Life happens. If an assignment takes longer than expected, don’t get frustrated. Review your tasks for the day and flag less urgent items for another time. If you’re blindsided by an illness or an emergency, have a backup plan.

Familiarize yourself with your instructors’ absence policies and contact them immediately if you need to miss a simulation lab or clinical rotation—although these should only be missed in emergency situations. Work with your study group to fill in any gaps. Just take it one day at a time, and remember Utica instructors and success coaches are here to help you develop time management strategies as well.

“You want to take it step-by-step by looking at the calendar for all 14/16 weeks. Just know it’s doable and classmates are there to help. Faculty is there to help.  You don’t have to do it on your own. There’s people there to support you.”

- Chelsea Egwim, May 202 Graduate of Utica ABSN

5. Manage Expectations

Before you begin your ABSN courses begin, have a frank discussion with your friends and family to let them know that earning your B.S. in Nursing will be your main priority — and that you’ll have to make sacrifices over the next 16 months.

The ABSN program will be taking up most of your time, and you won’t want the people closest to you to feel ignored or misunderstood. Let them know that while you care about them, you may have to miss social events in favor of studying for a big test, completing coursework, or attending labs or clinicals. Let them know it’s only temporary and that their support during this time will help you immensely.  

6. Prioritize Items

A key to time management is prioritizing. Rather than trying to get everything done at once or start in a random order, cross items off your to-do list based on weight and urgency. For example, complete assignments considering both due date AND the time needed to complete. Rather than knocking out a bunch of smaller assignments, prioritize the assignments that will take the longest to do and carry the most importance.

If you’re ready to prioritize your future as a nurse through the Utica University ABSN program, contact one of our admission representatives.

The Ultimate Nursing School Admissions Checklist

Ready for nursing school but stressed about applying? We recommend downloading our free admissions checklist to learn the important ins and outs of applying to accelerated nursing school.

The ultimate nursing school admissions checklist