With all of the changes and challenges in healthcare today there is the sense of having the weight of the world on one’s shoulders. Whether you’re a CEO, CNO, COO, CIO, Middle Manager or front line supervisor, your plates are full already and you’re being required to take on more responsibilities. You ask – where am I to find the time to do one more thing? It’s kind of like adding a new child to the family – figuring out how to juggle your time to accommodate the additional demands. The answer is that you’re NOT going to find more time. We all have 24 hours in a day and that’s all we get. Try spending an hour analyzing how your time is being spent. Make conscious decisions about how your time is allocated in a logical and proactive manner so you don’t feel like you’re always in reaction mode.

If you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, use the following exercise to make decisions about how to spend your time, what you can give up, delegate, or simply choose not to do. I’ve done this exercise with many clients in the course of my consulting career and it has served to be quite helpful. The first part of the exercise can be done alone or with a facilitator assisting you. Maybe chew on your results for a little bit, then repeat the exercise with your manager, a trusted colleague, your spouse, or a significant other to gain their perspective regarding your “buckets of time.”

What you’ll need:

  • A white board or several large easel pages up on the wall
  • Colorful markers
  • An hour of time

Current State Buckets:

  • Label the top of the board “Current State.”
  • Draw 8 or 10 buckets horizontally across the white board or easel papers – these indicate “buckets of time.”
  • Begin labeling the buckets with any item that requires a chunk of your time. These could include but are not limited to: patient care, financial accountability, Quality Improvement team, Human Resources responsibilities, meetings, and operations. Remember to include buckets for home, family, school, or other personal responsibilities.
  • Keep adding buckets until you have a bucket representing everything that routinely takes a chunk of your time.
  • Note underneath each bucket approximately how much time you spend on that bucket in a typical week.

Desired State Buckets:

  • Draw a line under the buckets and start a new row of buckets, labeling this section of the board as “desired state.”
  • Now draw the buckets in your “desired state” that identify how you would really like to spend your time.


  • Study the difference between your current state and desired state.
  • Are there any items in current state that could be eliminated, contracted out, delegated to others, or done more efficiently? If so, label them as such.
  • What would it take to get to your desired state?
  • Make a list of action items to help you move from current to desired state. Perhaps it is talking with your manager about the value of particular duties or planning a process improvement exercise to improve the efficiency or effectiveness of a particular responsibility. Perhaps it is allocating specific focused times for particular activities. For example, if you need to spend more time writing grants, allocate ½ day twice a month on your calendar to focus on that as if it were an appointment.

Once you have your list of action items, meet with your manager, trusted colleague, or significant other for their perspective and assistance in moving from current state to desired state. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Arnold Bennett from his book “How to live on 24 hours a day” written in 1910.

“Time is the inexplicable raw material of everything.  With it, all is possible; without it, nothing.  The supply of time is truly a daily miracle.  You wake up in the morning, and lo your purse is magically filled with 24 hrs of the un-manufactured tissue of the universe of your life!  It is yours. No one can take it from you.  And no one receives either more or less than you.”

About Laura Buchanan MBA, BSN, RN

Ms. Buchanan is a Registered Nurse (RN) with 39 years of professional experience. She serves as a director with a focus on technology projects utilizing her clinical, management, business, and technical consulting experience. She has extensive experience with clinical transformation, workflow analysis, process design, vetting software options, data analysis, and implementing EHR systems.​

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