As we start the new year and the holidays are behind us, I start thinking about getting back into the routines of my life. My routines include work, volunteering with AMSN, adjunct faculty for the University of Michigan-School of Nursing, medical and dental appointments, and getting my kids back into their routines with elementary school, friends and swimming. As I think about the new year, I wonder which routines are ones to keep, and which ones need to be tweaked, or let go of entirely to have a better year than the last.
When we think about making a change to our routine, it can be scary and uncertain. But sometimes we need to challenge ourselves in order to make room for something new. When I think of adding one more thing to my plate these days, I know that something else must be removed. I usually say yes to everything: helping in my kids’ class, organizing events at work, throwing elaborate birthday parties, being part of multiple projects at work, traveling for family get-togethers and so on. This year, I know that I cannot keep saying yes to everything, or my plate is going to tip and items will start slipping off, which is never a good feeling. I am going to need to change my routine and my overinvolvement in everything.
As nurses we are great at multitasking for our patients and fixing the issues of our units and organizations. In turn, we usually get additional work added to our plates. However, when this happens, some of our most important priorities get lost in the many tasks we are asked to do each day. I have often heard this referred to as: Nurses are juggling all the organizational and safety priorities to improve patient outcomes, finances, workflows, staffing, throughput and so on. We keep most of these priorities moving forward, but at times we are not able to sustain them all at the same time. We can only juggle so many balls at a time before one of them crashes down.
In 2024, we should consider how to keep the important priorities at the forefront and create our routines and workflows which put the patient first. Recently, I heard a leader in my organization state, “If we keep the patient the priority, as our true north, we will always come out on top.” This stayed with me as I started thinking about how we can go about making 2024 better than 2023. Putting the patient first when making decisions is an important step to keeping to our true north and the reason why many of us went into nursing. This year, we might have to consider what needs to come out of our routine and what needs to be revised to make room for something new if it is the best interest of our patients and nurses.
As you take stock of your work and home routines, challenge yourself on what needs to change, what needs to stay the same and what needs to be let go for 2024.