10 Incredible Time Management Tips for Nursing Students: Take Action Now

Written by Domantas Vanagas

November 1, 2021

Nursing school is a full-time job— some might even call it two. It involves so many responsibilities, deadlines, lab hours, meetings, and more to keep on top of getting your degree. And that doesn’t even factor in personal or social life.

So if you want to become a nurse, learning how to manage your time properly will be vital to successfully getting through school. To help you with that, here are 10 time management tips for nursing students that you can use to stay on top of your work.

1. Create a schedule

Create a schedule as soon as you have a syllabus and calendar for your classes. Note important deadlines, exams, lab hours, clinical rotations, and anything else you need to know.

writing down schedule plan

As the semester progresses, you can use this schedule to ensure you are on top of your stuff. It will help you plan out your weeks, know what assignments you need to complete, and when to set aside time for labs.        

Make sure you can easily access your schedule, too, so you can always see it and upgrade it if needed. Please keep it in a calendar, planner, your phone, tablet, computer, or whatever else works for you.

2. Prioritization is very important for nursing students

Right from the start, note what assignments and activities are most important for you to complete or attend. This is a very important skill to learn to become a nurse one day. Also, familiarize yourself with the teacher’s absence policies, so you know which classes and events you can miss if needed.

If an assignment takes you longer than you expected, don’t fret. Since you know which are top priorities, push some of the less important ones off to the next day.

Similarly, if you fall ill or an emergency arises, you know what things to sacrifice and which you must keep. You probably won’t want to miss a sim lab, but a simple lecture could be managed. Stick to your priorities, and it will help you a lot.

3. You need to stay organized!

At the start of every week, organize your thoughts, assignments, events, and belongings, and then use that throughout the week.

weekly organizer for tasks and assignments

You can create a weekly to-do list or time management SMART goals; make sure all your assignments are on your calendar. Doing this at the start of the week will prevent you from feeling flustered later in the week and help you get everything done.

Also, take the time to organize all of your materials. Nothing’s worse than a messy workstation, which will surely distract you. Pencils, notebooks, lab equipment, planners, etc., can all get in the way and be distracting. So remove that distraction early.

4. Stick to a routine

Developing a routine and sticking to it could be a lifesaver for you, and it is one of the best time management tips for nursing students. Decide on a schedule for your daily life, and try to stick to it, incorporating your school events and shifting around them when necessary.

This can include planning meals when you do assignments and especially sleep. Blocking out your time like this will help you stay on task and finish your stuff.

5. Every nursing student needs to Eliminate Distractions

Countless things can distract you and put all of your hard time management work to ruin. So try and do your best to eliminate these distractions.   

woman working in an environment full of distractions


Although there is no one way to do this, some of the best ideas are:

  • Work in an environment you control, and keep it as distraction-free as possible
  • Limit time on screens
  • Try to stay away from other people who might be distracting
  • Plan breaks to give your mind time to rest, which will make it harder to get distracted

That includes social media as well.

Social media can be very entertaining and even good for mental health. But if you’re serious about time management, you need to limit how much time you spend on social media.

Try to plan specific breaks where you can be on social media, and don’t go on it during other times. Maybe set a timer while you’re on it to prevent you from being sucked in.

And whatever you do, turn off your notifications. It can make a huge difference!

6. Learn to say no

One of the most important time management tips and causes of poor time management for nursing students is learning to say no. Although it may be hard, it is essential to stay on task.

woman writing no on a transparent wall

Say no to activities and plans that take too much time out of your schedule or that conflict with important events or deadlines. Please keep track of your priorities, and do what you must to maintain them. If that party is at the same time as your first clinical rotation, you will have to miss it.

Sadly, this also means you should prepare for some people to react negatively. They may think you’re being rude or selfish. Just remind them kindly that you’re focusing on what’s necessary and good for you.

7. Be flexible

This is good not only as a nursing student but in your career. Sometimes things happen that you weren’t expecting, and you must roll with them. Three patients could turn into ten, and you start feeling overwhelmed if you’re not flexible.

Knowing your priorities will help with this because you know what you can give up if you have to.

Another thing that can help is planning extra time into your day. This time can be used to finish assignments that took too long or to work around disasters or emergencies. And if nothing comes up, you can always use that time to relax.

8. Combine Activities to Save time

You can consolidate some activities to help you save time without sacrificing your activities. Start by listing activities in your typical day: exercise, meals, study time, classes and lectures, etc.

activities that could be combined mentioned on the board

Then, try to figure out how you could combine some of these activities. For example, you could record a lecture on your phone and listen to it while exercising, so you can also get some study time in.

There are a lot of other ways to consolidate activities too. Study while hanging out with friends, do homework while eating, and review flashcards while walking. Figuring out ways to consolidate your time will help you better manage your time without sacrificing activities.

9. Take care of yourself

Although being a nursing student involves giving up much of your free time, taking care of yourself is still important. And yes, it is a part of time management because you can set aside time to practice self-care.

hands touching symbolizing selfcare

This means making sure you stay mentally healthy amid your mountains of work, exams, and lab hours. Take time to do something you enjoy, and give yourself breaks to revitalize your energy levels. Some popular self-care activities can be:

  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Exercise
  • Watching a favorite movie or show
  • Doing arts and crafts
  • Spending time outdoors

Also, remember to have some social interactions outside of schooling. Keeping relationships with others is vital to keeping yourself mentally well. Try to set aside time at least once a week to spend time with friends or family without worrying about school.

10. Plan your meals – Tasty and time-saving

Another important part of taking care of yourself is ensuring that you eat enough and well. If you get caught up in work and the hour’s pass, you may forget to eat. To prevent that, try to plan your meals.

prepared meals for future lunch

You can make a grocery list and go shopping over the weekend to get everything you need for the week. Consider making meals that can be made in advance or put in a slow cooker, so when it comes time to eat, you have to heat it up and then get back to studying.

Plan to order food on days when you know you will be very busy with lectures and exam studying. And if you won’t be home to eat, have a plan for where you can get food, or bring easy meals like sandwiches and trail mix.

Planning your meals also helps you eat better, as you’re less likely to grab junk food. Putting good food in your body will help you feel better, which will help you stay on top of your tasks.

Managing time well

Time management will be essential as you move forward in your life and career in the nursing field. Developing good time management skills now will help you for the rest of your life as you go on to help people and save lives.

So remember to prioritize, schedule, say no, plan as much as possible, and be flexible. If you follow these time management tips for nursing students, your journey should be much easier.

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