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Time Management on the Job




Nutrition Staff member to deliver this in-service to nurses, nursing assistants, and kitchen staff.


Often we think that we are too busy or the demands of our jobs are too difficult. In reality, for many, being more organized and managing our time better can result in making the day run more smoothly. In many cases, more can be accomplished simply by managing time more effectively.

Quick reading to review topic:

McNamara, C. Basics of Time and Stress Management. Available at
Accessed October, 2006.

  1. Staff will be able to list 3 ways to manage their time more effectively.
  2. Staff will be able to list 3 ways time is wasted each day.
  3. Staff will understand that managing their time will result in a day that is less hectic.

I. Many of us think there is never enough time to accomplish our daily goals at work. In reality we often waste time. Big time wasters include:

    a. Personal phone calls on the job
    b. Office gossip/griping
    c. Smoke breaks
    d. Procrastination
    e. Poor organizational skills /need to retrace steps, search for missing items, obtain
        forgotten items, etc.

* There is a difference between productive time spent passing information along (e.g. reports during shift changes) and unproductive time.

II. Time management is an endless series of decisions that gradually change the shape of your life.

    a. Managing your time at home and at work can make for a more peaceful, organized life.
    b. You can and should set goals for your workday and establish priorities to help you
        accomplish what needs to be done.
    c. You should separate your home and work tasks as much as possible and deal only with
        work tasks at work.

III. Ways to manage your time more effectively:

    a. Complete an activity log.  During your work shift keep track of how much time you
        spend on each activity, including phone calls, breaks, etc. Analyze how much you
        accomplished in the time you are at work. You might be surprised to find out how
        much time you actually waste!
    b. Make a “to do” list at the start of your workday. Check off each item as it is completed.
    c. Prioritize your work daily. At the start of your shift or workday identify low, medium,
        and high-priority activities and complete them in that manner.
    d. If possible, work the shift that bests suits your body clock. Some people feel most awake
        and alert in the mornings, while others function best in the afternoons or evenings.
    e. Handle your most difficult tasks when you are most alert
    f. Limit time-wasters such as personal phone calls.
    g. Focus on results, not on staying busy
    h. Keep a list of short (5 minute) tasks you can do while you are waiting for something.

Activity:  Have the participants consider the following questions:

  1. What time-wasters prevent you from getting your work done on a typical day?
  2. What tasks did you do this week that could have been simiplified?
  3. What single activity or habit wastes most of your time?

Discuss results with group.

Introduce Activity (attached). Show staff how to use activity log. Every time an activity is switched it should be recorded. Be as specific as “5 minutes to restroom” or “25 minutes washing pots and pans”.  Request they fill one out for 3 work days to assess how they are spending their time.

Time Management on the Job
Pre and post test


1. True or false: Most people waste more time at work than they realize.

2. Examples of timewasters at work include:

    a. personal phone calls
    b. smoking breaks
    c. gossiping with coworkers
    d. all of the above

3. True or false:  Keeping an activity log can help you realize how much
    unproductive time you have at work.

4. Which is not a way to manage your time at work?

    a. Make a “to-do” list
    b. Prioritize your assignments
    c. Focus on busywork instead of results
    d. All of the above

5. True or false: Difficult tasks should best be handled when you are most alert.

Answer key:


  1. True
  2. d. All of the above
  3. True
  4. c. Focus on busywork instead of results
  5. True


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