Being an engineer requires certain commitments; you must be willing to put in the hours and should have the technical know-how. Although having spent quite some time in the field, we can safely assure you that all you need to have is the willingness to learn and a positive attitude. The technical know-how will come as you gain experience along the way. Let’s not go off topic shall we? As an engineer you could really suffer a lot if you don’t have a routine.
First thing first; sit down and free yourself from distractions. List down the tasks that you need to accomplish for your work life. This list will include your daily tasks and weekly tasks. Make this list exhaustive; even list down checking email and bringing your boss up to speed with the project as a task.
6. Create Personal Tasks
Repeat the same with your personal life as well. Enlist things such as working out, reading, errands, pet chores and shopping. Make this list as detailed as possible. This might sound like too much effort, however, you’ll be thanking us later.
5. Batch Process
Review your lists and group smaller tasks together. Grouping them together will save you time and you will be reducing the interruptions as well. For example, if your list has grocery shopping, visiting bank, meeting the doctor and going to post office; put them together as ‘errands’ and carry them out on one day. You can also create a group for say your activities of balancing your checkbook, filing of personal papers and paying bills. You can also do this for your work activities; batch process all the phone calls into one hours and do the same for emails as well.
4. Daily List
Go through your lists again and point out tasks that have to be completed every day. What we need you to do is to plan out these activities; Don’t plan every minute of your day but rather set goals and timeframe for these activities. For example, you might want to complete the paper work in the first two hours followed by tea break and then update your boss before lunch.
3. Weekly List
This is where you highlight the stuff that you do more than once in a week. It could contain, for example, working out, laundry and house cleaning. You need to schedule these for throughout the week while ensuring that you don’t pile up too much on a single day. Batching up helps here as well; so for example, you could be working out while doing laundry or you could clean house while doing laundry.
2. Test Run
Now you have two set of goals/tasks; daily and weekly. They contain your work tasks and personal tasks as well. We’ve talked the talk and now it’s time to walk the walk. Give it a try for a week and review it at the end of week. Make adjustments accordingly and repeat.
This is the tricky part – sticking to a routine is problematic because like anything your mind wants to have its freedom and shall resist the routine. However, once you have found a good set of routine that works well for you, we suggest following it for at least 10 days after which you will ease up. Start your day with a workout (helps in focusing) and before you leave for work, take a cold shower. These actions disrupt your patterns and allow your brain to adopt to the new routine much faster. Make sure that your goals are displayed in front of you most of the time and most importantly; keep reviewing your goals and assessing if you are moving closer or further away from your goal/task.
Having created a routine, now you need to understand why we act the way we do. As per Anthony Robbins; we have patterns that we follow. These are the patterns that we have developed over time and while some of them might be positively affecting us, there are those which are negatively influencing us. If you must change yourself, you need to create goals/tasks, disrupt your current patterns and add new patterns that associate more pleasure to new goals. He calls this process neuro-conditioning. So, simply put, create a list of 5-6 things you can do to disrupt your current patterns. For example, say you tend to spend more in getting into useless debates with your colleagues; next time you get into a heated debate, hold your nose and go ‘whoop whoop’. There, you have successfully managed to disrupt your current pattern. What will it do? You will be breaking the pattern that you have developed of ‘I must win this debate’. This will save time and then you can use it constructively.
What we’ve also found is the fact that most productive people use the concept of active-procrastination and focus spans to get their work done. For instance; say you feel lazy about task 1 which is hard and boring, so you take up task 2 (comparatively easier) and so although you are avoiding task 1, you will be able to complete the other tasks. Pomodoro technique is the one where you work for a certain time on a specific task and then take a break. You can find apps on your smartphone for this technique. You could, for example, have a pomodoro running for 40 minutes and then take 5 minutes breather followed by next pomodoro. Such focused spans allow you to shut out other distractions and complete the task at hand.