Who has time for time management advice? Although most would argue there isn’t enough time in the day to breathe or take a restroom break, it is a fact: managing your time better will increase production, decrease stress, and practicing good time management skills daily is vital to success.
Because of the changes set forth in the CoC Standard 5.1, pertaining to Cancer Registrar credentials, as of January 1, 2015, all case abstracting must be performed by a Certified Tumor Registrar, whether they are employed by the cancer program, work on a contract basis, or through a registry service company. What does that mean? If you are a Certified Tumor Registrar, there is a LOT of work on the horizon, more than ever before.
As stated by Christopher S. Frings, PhD, CSP, a health care consultant and speaker from Alabama, “Wasting just one hour a day means in ten years you will have lost 3,650 hours or 152 days of your life. Every hour is important.” Describing time management as a survival skill, he said, “to be able to survive and thrive, you have to be able to manage your time effectively; you cannot manage time — you can only manage events. Time management is making good choices and using the time you have effectively. It’s a learned and acquired skill and something that has to be practiced every day.”
Here are 5 suggestions to help make time management more successful:
- Organization: Of all the suggestions, this is probably the most valuable. How can you know what the priorities are if it they’re scattered all over your workspace (and brain, too!)? Lists can be a great tool; sit down at the beginning of each day, breathe, focus on what’s most important or most urgent and create a to-do list of tasks, with responsibilities of greater importance on top. To hold yourself accountable for completion or deadlines, set goals or target completion dates for every task. As you finish the task, mark it off; you’ll be surprised how good it feels to see your list at the end of the day or week knowing you’ve worked hard!
- Multitasking: Yes, that is marked out. Why? If you’re in the middle of an abstract, you pick up an incoming call, an email alert pops up for a received fax and you open it, and…wait, what’s going on? Strive for excellence in your work always; if you’re attempting 3 or more things at once, excellence is that last result you’ll achieve. Concentrate and focus on the task at hand; when a call is urgent or necessary, of course it should be answered, but limit your distractions, both professionally and personally, and you’ll find yourself completing the tasks in a timely manner.
- Know your staff: With changes and deadlines, study requests, last-minute staffing absences, and so many other instances, working in, and managing a Cancer Registry can be quite hectic. As you work with your staff, you’ll learn their areas of strength; use this knowledge to delegate duties and tasks to reach program goals and deadlines more efficiently.
- Technology is our friend: From creating lists, communication, and automation, technology can truly change outcomes. Many smart phones and tablets on the market today have available tools that can revolutionize organizational tasks. Many applications are free and right at our fingertips! On another level, technology within our electronic health records and cancer program software may have automation capabilities; have you reviewed your software to see if automating any of the current registry responsibilities is practical and possible?
- Rest: There are only 24 hours in a day; that will never change. You have to take time in your day to rest, relax, refocus, recharge, and most importantly, take care of yourself.
At the end of the day, week, when you’ve worked as hard as you can; you should be proud of yourself, and you shouldn’t let your accomplishments go unrewarded! Take a break, read that book that’s been sitting on your bedside table for weeks, call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time, take time out for something special, big or small. You’ve earned it! In the same respect, reward those working on your team with a quick email, a card, or a nice phone call. There is ALWAYS time to pat yourself or someone else on the back for a job well done!