The Beauty of Reflecting on Your Work

by Nursetopia on February 13, 2016

Have you ever paused to reflect on your work from previous years? Like really paused to reminisce about your life’s work – what you’ve spent your minutes, hours, and days doing? It’s self-care in and of itself.

I’ve been blogging for over five years now, and I use nifty tools like most bloggers to bookmark topics or repost content I’ve written previously. Technology is quite amazing, no? Every once in a while I’ll see someone share a link of my writing that I forgot I penned, or I will catch something in a conversation that makes me think of an article I wrote several years ago. I’ll sift back through the articles and begin re-reading my work. Strangely enough, while I write many articles in moments of emotion, sometimes I cannot even recall what caused me to write my passionate words when reading them retrospectively. And, inevitably, as I’m looking there, I begin to see moments of encouragement intended for others over the years but that equally uplift me in that moment. And just like that – I’m thankful. I’m thankful I wrote down the permanent vulnerability. I am thankful for my creative outlet of writing. I am thankful for time well-spent. I am thankful for my friends through my writing. I am thankful for my days.

The same is true for my nursing work. When I pause to self-reflect, minutes turn into the brain’s quick page-turning yearbook of highlights that lift my soul. Even the dark moments have light flecks of hope in hind sight, faded by the brilliance of much more luminescent times.

Busy-ness can eat us away, Reflection pauses time to bring energy to the moments ahead. It’s beautiful self-care we overlook all-too-frequently in today’s six-second, microwave, drive-through 140-character culture.

Pause and think about your past year, five years, decade, or score. Relish your work, and be renewed for the work ahead.

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The Snickers “you’re not you when you’re hungry” commercials crack me up. Because it’s true! We all tend to turn into different people when we reach that beyond-hungry point.

Maybe that’s partly why so many people working in healthcare are a little perturbed. We’re hungry, and the bag of chips stuffed in a pocket to inhale at any given moment just isn’t cutting it.

Nurse RatchedTake a break, People. You’re not you when you’re hungry. And while Snickers are great as an occasional treat, it may not be the best choice to fuel your life-saving skills throughout the 8 or 12-hour shift. Grab some protein and a complex carbohydrate.

What’s your go-to shift meal and snacks?

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Valentines2016_LubDubValentine’s Day is an “easy” day to thank those around you at work, no matter your role. Gratitude is contagious, and you might be surprised how great you feel after thanking those around you and watching them light up with a smile. Little moments of thanks really can change a day, a week, a unit, a culture.

If you need some Valentine’s Day work-love help, I’ve made images and cards in the past. They’ve been so well-received, I’ve made a new line of 12 free, printable Valentine’s cards available for everyone; not all of them are shown here, so be sure to visit the download link. Simply download, print (card stock is best), add a handwritten note to the blank space on the front or back of the card, and share with your coworkers. Enjoy!

And, no matter your healthcare specialty, if you have ideas for future cards, please share in the comments. Spread the love this season!

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Nurse.com’s 2016 Gem Awards Open for Nominations

by Nursetopia on January 10, 2016

I bet you work with or live around some amazing nurses. I certainly do. Why not honor their great work and nominate them for an actual award like Nurse.com’s Gem Awards?

With six categories, there’s one to honor all of the amazing work nurses do both at work and in the community. Hurry and get your nomination in; nominations end April 15, 2016.

By Macroscopic Solutions, Flickr.com By Macroscopic Solutions, Flickr.com

 

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Leader, Leader quite legendary,

How do your nurses grow?

With sharing wells, and mentor swells,

And encouragements that overflow.

Grow, by Susy Morris, via Flickr.com Grow, by Susy Morris, via Flickr.com

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Pressing Forward: 2016’s One Word

by Nursetopia on January 1, 2016

stretchKnowing I’ll live with my one word for a full year, I take quite a bit of time to consider my next one word. After much consideration, I’m drawn to stretch. 

[Gulp]

As much as I tried to move in a different direction, I feel it coming for 2016, so I won’t resist but, rather, embrace it. Better yet, I’ll apply it to my entire life.

Stretching isn’t meant to “be stretched thin.” Stretching in physical activity, for example, serves the purposes to warm up and cool down the muscles, reduce injury, improve balance, increase range of motion, reduce stress and tension, and enhance performance. Stretching should not be painful, should not be omitted, and should be a part of daily physical activity.

I’ll stretch my relationships, my ideas, my writing, my work, my health, my encouragement, my finances, my business ideas, and my time as part of daily work to better balance, reduce strain, and enhance my overall life.

What’s your one word for 2016?

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Nursetopia In Retrospect: 2015’s One Word

by Nursetopia on December 31, 2015

onewordEach year I select one word to help guide my efforts throughout the year. It’s my form of a resolution, I guess. It’s quite amazing to think of the word weekly or daily in some cases and actually implement it in various efforts, and it is always beautiful to reflect over the goodness that word has helped bring into my life. Since doing this one word effort, years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 have been quite interesting and enlightening, and I’ve smiled reading back over those end-of-year perspectives, marveling at the threads that have woven into my life far deeper and more brilliantly than I anticipated.

2015 has not disappointed.

My one word for 2015 has been give. And, boy, did I.

I found myself giving more to my family, to my work, to people around me. I gave my time in ways I never have before – stepping onto organizational boards of directors for not one – but two different, wonderful organizations. I volunteered more time to students and precepted eight undergraduate nursing students and two graduate nursing students throughout their nursing leadership courses as well as several business students and community leaders who asked for time with me. I bought more lunches and coffees than I may have ever done collectively in my years prior. I gave more thanks than ever in my life, writing over 1,200 thank you notes as best I can tell from various calendars and documents.

As much as I gave and gave and gave, I will transparently tell you this has been one of the best years of my life – filled with more joy and contentment and, yes, even wealth, than I have ever experienced. I have more meaningful relationships; I feel a sense of contribution; and I do not miss any of the money I have spent or donated over the last 12 months, but I do recall the warmth of those lunches and coffees and time and money well-spent with others or on meaningful efforts. It’s amazing how that has happened.

I have always believed in principles of giving – reaping what you sow…tithing…”give and it shall be given unto you” (Luke 6:38). I have tested that principle this year in all forms. It remains true.

I am thankful for the gift of giving in 2015, and I hope to continue it into 2016, but that’s not my one word for the New Year. I’ll share that tomorrow!

Did you have a one word for 2015? If so, what was it? What are you looking forward to in 2016?

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6 Hacks to Optimize Your Leadership

by Nursetopia on September 22, 2015

I’m not an expert on time management, but over the course of 10 years in leadership, I have never had an assistant manage my schedule or emails. I squeeze a lot of goodness into jam-packed days. Students, new leaders, and those I have the privilege of leading often ask me how I get so much accomplished between work, family, volunteering with numerous organizations, church, and hobbies. Here are a few tricks I’ve incorporated into daily work to help optimize my time:

1. Always have a blank notecard and envelope on-hand. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve needed to write a quick, special note. Sometimes it’s because I’ve forgotten an occasion; other times it’s because I just learned of something happening quickly. Because I have the tools on-hand, I can always contribute in meaningful ways that align with my leadership style. Hand-written notes are rarities these days, which means anyone who gives them is quickly set apart from others. It’s an incredibly easy way to differentiate yourself. Popping a few blank notecards and envelopes into your briefcase, outer purse pocket, or work binder takes little effort with maximum opportunity.

2. Easy-access reading material is a must. There will be downtime in your day no matter how hard you try to avoid it. You should always be reading a book or a journal, no matter how long it takes you to finish it. Learning never stops. So, carry journals with you, have audio books downloaded for travel between off-site meetings, make sure you have an e-book ready for a quick chapter read when you can fit it in. You’ll whiz through your reading pile in no time…all during your “downtime.”

3. Incorporate post-meeting follow-up time into your calendar. This little jewel of a tip has been a sanity saver for me as I’ve grown in leadership and in responsibilities. Some days are  continuous meetings, and if you’re not careful, you can end up with 40+ hours of meetings and equally as many evening, early morning, and weekend hours of desk work resulting from those meetings. No thanks! Make sure you schedule follow-up time immediately after most meetings to complete your action items. This tactic can help you seek clarity throughout meetings in anticipation of completing actions following meetings, and it can also help expedite work that can easily get dropped through the proverbial leadership cracks. Even better? Complete low-level action items during the meeting as you discuss them.

4. Schedule your to-do list. I used to keep a list of everything I needed to accomplish. It worked at one time in my career, but now I cannot manage the moving pieces and deadlines of numerous strategic initiatives via a to-do list. I’ve learned that my daily calendar is the best way to set a deadline and work backwards, actually scheduling the milestone work. Covey’s “begin with the end in mind” always delivers.

5. View your calendar one week at a time. If there’s one thing nursing has taught me it’s that priorities change. The same is true in any kind of leadership. The days never look the same, so as meetings get delayed or something else needs attention, I can attack portions of the schedule later in the week or move around daily work to readjust for unexpected moments.

6. Prioritize your day the day before. The last thing I do each day is look at my calendar for the next business day. I often number my scheduled items for the day to ensure I take care of the most important work first whenever possible because – as number five pointed out – priorities change, and what sometimes feels like a priority may not be one at all. Viewing my calendar prior to the next business day helps me refocus. In addition, I often set my desk up so I can jump right into work – separating files and projects in order so I can more easily move throughout my day and work.

And while all of these hacks are great at the office, they most certainly work at home, as well. I am not quite as scheduled at home, but I always have blank notecards/envelopes with me, I am never without reading material, and the next school/work day is always prepped the night before with clothes, lunches, and backpacks. It just makes for a happy and productive day.

So, hack away and have a happy day! What tips do you have that help keep your days humming along?

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When Nurses Grieve Together

by Nursetopia on September 4, 2015

Oncology nurses experience grief. All nurses experience grief. It’s part of the job we agreed to as life also encompasses death.

As a nurse leader, grief over a patient death is very similar to the grief I experienced as a frontline nurse. While I do not routinely put my hands on patients daily, I still get to know patients and their families in my role, and I get the pleasure of caring for them in ways they may never know. In addition, I get to hear nurses and the rest of the team talk about patients in care meetings or in the break room as they munch on a homemade treat a patient just happened to bring for the group. Stories and story-telling moments are vital learning sessions in healthcare, and it’s important (and sometimes fun) for me to hear these stories of our patients throughout their care.

And conversely, the grief over a patient death as a leader is different from the grief as a patient’s nurse. That bond is entirely different. Entirely.

The longer I am in leadership, the more tenderly I view my nurses and team during seasons of patient loss. It is humbling watching a group of nurses attend a viewing together or stop by an end-of-life patient’s room one-by-one, only to leave with tear-stained faces. It’s moving caring for a multidisciplinary team passing the Kleenex box around a gathered office space during work hours. It’s endearing hearing a handful of nurses share unknown stories with a family who may have never been in the care environment to experience them, showing either a completely different side of a patient or reinforcing the truest of true personalities and characteristics throughout even the hardest of health times.

Nurses are seriously some of the strongest, most courageous, versatile, and resilient people I’ve ever met. Even in their grief, they are amazing. That gathered grief shows the deep sincerity of their care to people who were once strangers to them but now forever a part of them.

Not everyone grieves together. I believe it is a sign of a strong team when grief is shared, though. What do you think?

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Missed You Bunches and Bunches

by Nursetopia on September 4, 2015

Long time no see! Yes, I am still alive. And well.

I always wonder when blogs – in general – suddenly stop. What happened? Is that it? 

Well, I could share reason after reason for not writing over the last two months. I’ll spare you, though, and just tell you I missed you bunches and bunches instead.

I did. Bunches.

In transparency, I’ve been nurturing a long-time dream, and it has taken a lot of my creative energy. I’m excited to share more when the time comes…which will be in about nine or ten more months…I think. You know how the creative process goes, right?

Anywhoooo. Good to see you again!

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