As a nursing student, you can feel that there’s only so much energy you can possibly give to your education on top of everything else you need to do in your life. You may have young children, a disabled spouse or pet, a full time job, elderly parents, and countless other responsibilities. Just like a car that needs to remain sufficiently tuned up, your educational experience needs to be kept in tune as well; after all, you want to make the best of it in exchange for the blood, sweat, tears, and resources you’re dedicating to the advancement of your education and nursing career.
Your nursing school experience won’t be repeated, and such golden opportunities for learning may not come again; you need to do your best to rearrange your life so that you can fire on all cylinders and make the most of your nursing school experience.
Prioritizing your education
When you’ve embarked on a nursing degree program journey, you are making a considerable investment in yourself; bringing your very best energy, attention, and focus is crucial to getting your money’s worth and digging deep into the experience.
As you begin your program – and throughout each semester – check in to see if you’re making the most of your time. Of course, there are factors that cannot be controlled (e.g.: illness, hospitalization, death of a loved one, natural disasters, etc), but many aspects of your life may be amenable to even temporary changes in the interest of your educational endeavors.
What can be changed?
If you have a disabled family member or other outsized responsibilities or personal burdens, those may not be able to change significantly. At the same time, school is a time-limited undertaking; consider what resources you can take advantage of in order to lessen your workload at home by streamlining your responsibilities or delegating to others, even temporarily.
When time management is the issue that keeps you from being most effective as a nursing student, consider how you might be able to make changes that can have a positive impact on the behavioral patterns you encounter each day. Apps, paper organizers, calendars, and other resources can play a part in staying organized and efficient; moreover, other positive personal habits can be employed or improved to level up your nursing education mojo.
Consider if there are household tasks that can be delegated to others in order to make more room for your studies. Ask yourself if you have the resources to hire someone to take care of certain things for you during the semester; if not, consider asking family members to pitch in, or initiate an online fundraiser to raise the needed funds.
Meanwhile, if Facebook or social media are eating away at your time for schoolwork, consider placing a block on social media apps during certain hours of the day. Also examine the amount of time you spend watching TV; what can be shaved or otherwise controlled with a little time management and discipline?
If you were to keep a journal of how you spend your time each day of the semester, what would surprise you? What habits would you find embarrassing to even write down? What can be changed?
Firing it up
If you’ve made the decision to go back to school and take your nursing education and career to the next stage, it’s an exciting and potentially nerve-racking time. Your family may need to make some adjustments in terms of their reliance on you, and you yourself may need to adjust by making fewer commitments and reserving your free time for school.
Blasting through several courses of nursing school – whether it’s a BSN, MSN, or DNP program – takes focus, concentration, dedication, and a commitment of time and personal energy; if you don’t make room for the demands and rigors of school, some aspect of your life will likely suffer.
By streamlining your life and shifting your priorities, you can fire on all cylinders and maximize your learning and educational success.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, consultant, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at NurseKeith.com.
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