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“You can get past the dead end. You can break through the ceiling. I did and so have countless others.”

The Nurse Practitioner Burnout Mini-Series #2

Stress Burnout Businessman Man  - geralt / Pixabay

This is the second article in the Nurse Practitioner Burnout Mini-Series. If you are new to the series, please read the 1st article here: Article #1.

This series is from a contributing author for The Elite NP: Erica Dorn, MSN, APRN. She is a recovering burned out nurse practitioner herself and is the author of a website on nurse practitioner burnout at For additional tips and support, check out her Facebook page as well: The Burned-Out Nurse Practitioner.

Erica touches on a great point here: do you really lack time or are you not prioritizing the right things in your life? I have touched on the subject of time in this article HERE about lacking energy or time. It is important to determine why you are lacking time if you want to succeed as a nurse practitioner. Additionally, it can be difficult to prioritize everything in your life. It is even more difficult to prioritize what needs to get done in your business. Be sure to read the article on prioritizing actions in your business HERE and HERE. As a nurse practitioner entrepreneur, it is CRITICAL that you understand where you need to be focusing your time if you want to create a profitable and successful business. Remember, time = dollars. Focusing on busy work and not income generating work will ultimately lead to the burnout Erica is describing. Now, onto the 2nd article…

Prioritizing time

24 hours in a day. 1440 minutes. 86400 seconds. That’s all we get. We can’t create more time. I repeat, WE CANNOT CREATE MORE TIME. We must learn how to prioritize our time. 

A common complaint I hear is, “I just don’t have time to… exercise, go on vacation, coach my son’s baseball team, etc.” My response is, “You don’t have time NOT to do these things.” Life is short, we should be spending it how we want…

Think about this, if you were diagnosed with a rare cancer and the treatment required you to complete 3 hours of chemotherapy every day, would you do it? Would you make it a priority to do the treatment you so desperately needed?

Of course, you would prioritize your life! How is this life any different? Does it take a life-threatening illness to motivate you to prioritize your time? Let this be your sick and tired moment. Make the change now to spend your time how you want to spend it. 

Easier said than done I know. As adults and NPs, we have responsibilities that we have to complete. True, but what about our free time? Are you watching 3 hours of TV a night when you could exercise, spend time with loved ones, or work on a project that sets your heart on fire?

Try completing a time log. For 3 days, write down what you do every minute of the day. Write down the time it takes you to get ready in the morning, your commute, how many hours you spend at work, and what you do in your free time. What is something you can cut out of your life? How many hours of social media did you consume? How much time did you spend doing what you love? 

Next, reflect on your priorities. Write down your top 10 priorities. Maybe you want to spend more time with your family. Maybe you want to volunteer more. Maybe you want to start a business. Are you living your life honoring these priorities? What changes do you need to make? What can you do to shift your priorities?  Live your life with the priorities you want.

Our lives are sooooo busy, I get it. But if we commit to prioritizing our time, it can help the work-life imbalance feel a little more balanced

Have you ever gone on vacation and thought, “I am so burned out at work, this vacation will make everything better!” The vacation is so fun and relaxing. You spend much needed time with your family, and you come back home feeling rejuvenated.

Until you pull into the driveway.

You feel all your responsibilities wash over you and the overwhelmed feeling returns. When you get back to the office it is almost worse than leaving. We have all been there… There are dozens of medication refills, radiology scans to review, and phone calls to catch up on. The vacation gave you some time to relax but it did not help the burnout.

While I do recommend NPs take vacations (more on that to come), I believe you have to work on your daily life. Prioritizing your time is one way to control your life. 

What are some ways that will help you prioritize your time?

Let’s say you want to start a business but can’t find time to work on it. Try waking up 1 hour earlier. This works especially well if you have children because, let’s be honest, kids take up a lot of your free time!

Never have time to exercise? Pack a bag to stop by the gym on your way home from work. Fit in a quick walk over your “lunch break.” Get an accountability partner that will help you stay committed.

Take a day off to allow time for you to do something for yourself. Go on vacation. Take ½ a day off to attend a child’s track meet. I mean honestly, how many PTO hours do you have right now? Use them! The office will not crumble without you! Your patients will be Ok. Your colleagues will survive. We have to take time for ourselves. It should be non-negotiable!

Let’s also think about what we can take off of our plates. Can you find someone at the office to help you get through your work? Is there a system or unknown function in your charting system that will take less time to complete charts? Are your nurses using their degrees to the fullest?

What about at home? Can you find the money to hire a cleaning service to clear your plate of the household chores? I recently bought a robot vacuum. It’s a small thing that saves me a lot of time! 

We should always be brave enough to ask for help. Ask a friend. A spouse. A neighbor. A family member. Ask someone to watch the kids so you have some free time. Plan your time. Prioritize what is important to you. Commit to living with a purpose.

After all, we only get one life. What do you want to be doing with your time?

Stay tuned for the next article on Thursday!

4 Responses

  1. This is so relevant to my life right now as I sit in the bathroom multi-tasking! Lol. But yes! I do need to make a list of what I do everyday. My husband works from home and we enjoy being together but.. I need to spend more time to doing what I WANT to do, I need to prioritize my wants and needs. And yes at work too. Utilizing those around me to the extent of their licensure.
    Thank you!

    1. We all need to make that list! It really will help organize your life and allow you to prioritize what needs to get done! When you are organized, the chances of burnout decrease dramatically.

      Thank you for the comment! I am happy to hear you are enjoying the series so far 🙂

  2. I watch almost no TV, maybe 2 hours a month. That leaves lots of room to read, research and work on 2 businesses in addition to working full time. You have nothing to lose by keeping the TV unplugged!!

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