3 Agency Nurse Top Tips to Save Yourself Time On Shift

By Josh Jezard

3 Agency Nurse Top Tips to Save Yourself Time On Shift

​Typically, nurses have to work at breakneck speed, juggling multiple tasks at once and satisfying the needs of their patients and fellow nurses. From ITU Nurses to Emergency Nurse Practitioners to Healthcare Assistants it is no secret that being pulled in so many directions comes as part and parcel of being a nurse. But how can you make the most of your time on shift? How do you cram everything in?

We’ve read a lot of different tips on how best to save yourself time and most of the advice we’ve read has been endlessly recycled and can be relatively impractical when you scratch the surface of what is being said. We look at the best ways to maximise your impact as an agency nurse whilst on shift.

“Do your hardest tasks first”

This piece of advice appears in every single list since the beginning of time. The problem with this tip is that it doesn’t take into consideration whether the hardest task is the most important. Your hardest task might not even be an important one. As an agency nurse, you’ll inevitably have a million things to do and being able to prioritise which tasks require your attention first is one of, if not the most, important skill that you’ll master as a nurse.

Focusing on completing the most important task using the time and resources available to you at the time is a far better approach than doing the hardest task first. By adopting this approach you’ll always maximise your resources and get the most out of your time.

“Make a to-do list”

Making a to-do list may seem like a simple idea but in actual fact, it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. Writing a list at the beginning of your shift and simply ticking things off as you go isn’t the mark of a good to-do list.

As a nurse, you’ll need to defend your to-do list from people wanting to constantly add to it needlessly. Nothing should hit your to-do list unless you’ve thought about whether it needs to be accomplished. If it does need to go on to the list are you the right person to be doing it?

Now, we know unexpected things are going to crop up all the time whilst on shift. Well, the general rule is if you can do it in a few minutes and it’s not going to impact your shift then just do it, it doesn’t need to go on the list. As an agency nurse, there can be a lot of things to do on your list. If you find yourself in this situation, break your lists down into associated tasks, this way you can focus your attention on similar jobs and maximise your time. This leads us onto our next point…


We often hear that a good agency nurse has the ability to multitask to be successful. There’s just one problem, the art of multitasking is a myth. Studies have shown that it is not scientifically possible for humans to be able to give their full attention to multiple tasks at once.

The appearance of multitasking is actually our brains quickly shifting attention from one task to another. And it is precisely this skill that agency nurses can master to help save themselves some time. Whilst it may seem quite a simple process to grasp mastering it is a whole different ball game. Nurses can be some of the best people at mastering this skill. Minimising distractions, completing tasks and quickly shifting to the next task will help you save a significant amount of time.


Now we know that this advice may not apply to all nurses. With the broad spectrum of nursing what works for one agency nurse may not work for another. However, whether you’re an agency nurse with shifts that come and go or a permanent nurse, we all do work that falls into an irregular schedule sometimes.

Everything from paid work to hobbies and unpaid housework it all has a way of sneaking into our days and messing up otherwise regular and productive schedules.

By creating routines, identifying key tasks, building structure around work, and working with your body’s rhythms, you can improve productivity no matter how unusual or busy your schedule gets.

If you’re a registered nurse looking for ongoing and immediate nursing agency shifts get in contact today. MedGen is one of the leading nursing agencies in the UK and recruits a range of nurses from Emergency Nurse Practitioners to Paediatric nurses down to Healthcare Assistants. We offer market-leading nursing agency rates and place nurses nationwide.

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