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Time Management Tips for Healthcare Professionals

Meal and clothing delivery services are among the options to help manage busy lives.

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Healthcare professionals have a lot on their plates. Shifts can be long and exhausting-not to mention emotionally draining. When healthcare professionals do get that cherished day off, they're often forced to spend it running errands and doing the chores that simply can't be accomplished after a long, grueling day at work. This shouldn't be the case. The people who spend so much time and effort caring for others should be able to spend their personal time doing what matters to them-not continuing to work!

With this in mind, ADVANCE compiled a few time management tips for healthcare professionals who want to make the most of their free time.

Plan Days Off
For healthcare professionals, the work day is rarely monotonous. While office workers may have their weekdays planned out on an organized calendar, a schedule almost never serves as more than a guideline for those in healthcare, who are trained to expect the unexpected.

A calendar or planner may prove useful for healthcare professionals outside of work. When that treasured day off approaches, they may have long lists of things they want to do planned out in their minds, such as making a nice, home-cooked meal with their families, or taking a long walk at a nearby park. However, when the day actually comes, they are likely to find themselves too caught up in other responsibilities to do what they wanted to do.

Writing out plans ahead of time (both the errands and the fun activities) can be a game changer. Countless tools are available, ranging from general daily planners to meal planners to activity planners. It may initially seem like something else to add to your already busy schedule, but as soon as you realize how much more you're getting accomplished on your days off, you'll thank yourself for recording plans in this way.

Make Meal Prep Easy
For many healthcare professionals, especially those with children, meal prep takes up a large chunk of free time. You have to determine what you're going to cook that day (or even that week, depending on how far in advance you plan), go grocery shopping and actually do all of the cooking. For natural chefs, this activity is enjoyable-but for others, it's a dreaded necessity.

Luckily, several new services can help you make meal prep as easy as possible.

Home Chef and Blue Apron are companies that let you choose from a variety of meals and order pre-proportioned, easy-to-prepare ingredients with the click of a button. You can make nutritious, filling meals in a short period of time without having to settle for any frozen TV dinners. Home Chef, for example, offers 13 meal delivery options weekly, including gluten-free, low-carb, vegetarian, soy-free and nut-free meals. Customers can change their meal delivery day, adjust the number of meals or servings received, skip a week or pause their account to fit their needs. "We deliver everything you need to make home-cooked meals from scratch in about 30 minutes," the Home Chef site stated.

Similarly, Graze sends healthy foods right to your home or office. Rather than meals, this company provides pre-prepared, delicious, healthy snacks. Available in a la carte options or as a subscription box, Graze offers so many different snacks that you're sure to find something for you. "When you are busy and rushing around on the go, it can be hard to find the time to eat well," said Ellie Freeman, head of products at Graze. "If you have Graze snacks on hand, you can keep yourself going and avoid making hasty trips to the vending machine."

SEE ALSO: Mindset: The Key to Creating Balance

Delegate Responsibilities
When so many patients rely on you day in and day out, it can be hard to step back and ask for some help. However, at home, it's crucial to delegate as much as possible. That's not to say that you shouldn't handle any of the chores at all, but you certainly shouldn't handle everything. If you have children, assign them some age-appropriate chores to complete throughout the week. If you live with a partner or roommate, take the time to divide household responsibilities equally.

You also have the option to assign some of those chores to affordable websites. For people who find clothes shopping to be less of a leisure activity and more of an errand, sites like Stitch Fix can make finding affordable, fashionable clothes a lot easier. Simply answer a few brief questions about your preferences in terms of style and cost and a stylist will send a variety of clothes right to your home. Stitch Fix charges a $20 "styling fee" that is applied toward your final order. The company sends five pieces "hand-picked to fit you, your budget and your style," the company's website states. Once you decide which items you want to hold on to, simply mail back the undesired items and only pay for the items you decide to keep. If you keep all five, you receive a 25% discount. Customers can opt to receive packages regularly or at their chosen intervals. Stitch Fix originally launched with women's clothing and accessories only, but recently added a line for men. 

Don't Spread Yourself Too Thin
When you only have a few days off in between busy days at work, it can be tempting to try to get as much done as possible during that time. However, with this technique, you're likely to simply exhaust yourself and leave many of your planned tasks unfinished.

Be careful not to overbook yourself for your days off. Allow yourself some time to relax in between errands, chores and even fun activities. By relaxing a bit throughout the day, you'll enable yourself to keep running for longer while also getting some of the rest that is such a rarity during your work week. As a healthcare professional, you have a lot of responsibilities-make sure that taking care of yourself is one of them.

Sarah Sutherland is a staff writer at ADVANCE. Contact: ssutherland@advanceweb.com

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