Watch as NICU nurse Joshua Castilleja shares his go-to tips for efficient time management in nursing school & preparing for the NCLEX.

5 Tips to Efficiently Manage Your Time in Nursing School

If his service in the Army taught NICU nurse Joshua Castilleja (@nicu_nurse_josh on Instagram) anything, it was efficiency. Josh recently joined us to share his go-to tips and tools for effective and efficient time management in nursing school, techniques for approaching board-style exams in preparation for the NCLEX, and his thoughts on balancing nursing school and life.


Looking for a quick summary of his tips for effective time management in nursing school, preparing for the NCLEX, and so much more? We’ve listed them below.


Quick Tip? Josh shares so much more content than his five tips in his webinar, especially during the Q&A session. Be sure to watch! 

5 Tips to Efficiently Manage Your Time in Nursing School

TIP #1: You Just Have to Make it to the Next Meal

When Josh started boot camp there was a sign in the mess hall with the number of days left. When there are 100+ days, this can feel overwhelming! Instead, he focused on making it to the next meal. How does this apply to nursing school? Acknowledge the long-game, but work only in small chunks. Set and focus on smaller, short-term goals. Set daily goals, reading goals, goals for the number of Daily Quiz Questions you’ll do in a session. Whatever it is, set the goal, and celebrate your achievement.

TIP #2: Plan Your Week Based on the Assignments & Course Materials from Your Syllabus

2021 Picmonic Nursing Student Daily Planner

“Planner lovers” swear by daily planners. For Josh, a daily planner wasn’t effective. Instead, he listed assignments for each class weekly on a whiteboard with the due dates for each. Then he set milestones to complete each day. Identify your most effective method for staying organized and prioritized, and use it. Take away: Do what works for you.

TIP #3: Set Aside Time Every Day for NCLEX Studying


It’s day one of nursing school? It’s never too early to start studying for the NCLEX! Waiting until after you graduate is WASTING time. And, it increases stress levels, limits opportunities, and may reduce your long-term retention of the information.

Use your time in nursing school to prepare for the NCLEX. Ideally, when you graduate, you will be prepared to take the NCLEX immediately. PS, Josh prepared using Picmonics Daily Quiz Questions and videos. He started with about 50 questions a day, working his way up to 300 or more as he got closer to taking the exam.

4 Weeks to NCLEX Workbook by Picmonic

TIP #4: Identify How You Learn and Study Based on This Knowledge (Efficiency is Key)

Are you a visual, auditory (or aural), kinesthetic (or hands-on), or reading and writing learner? Be sure you are honest with yourself, to give yourself the opportunity to learn effectively. 

For example: When Josh tried to write down what was being said word-for-word in the lecture, he didn’t hear the rest of the material—limiting his opportunity to learn. Instead, he wrote down the topic, listened and absorbed the lecture, and later watched the corresponding Picmonic.

The same applied to group study. While many swear by the merits of learning by committee, this wasn’t an effective study method for Josh. Instead, he found a way that did work. His group selected a topic, and he would benefit more from the discussion than note-taking. He recognized this and shared this with his group members, so they could manage their expectations as well.

TIP #5: Take One Day a Week to Refresh and Reboot

Self-care is key. Whatever it is you do to relax, take the time to do this!

For Josh, it was taking off one day a week from assignments. He would do 50-100 daily quiz questions on Picmonic in the morning before breakfast, and then spend the rest of the day with his family.

If you’re burnt-out, you will have difficulty staying motivated, focused, and learning and retaining information. Stress also affects your attitude, and attitude makes a huge difference when it comes to being successful in school and on the job.


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