Focus and concentration are very important factors that effective professionals always prioritize when working. It is necessary for getting the work done. However, with the increasing development in technology coupled with other factors taking place around the world, it has become so easy to lose concentration while working on a task, simply because we are now surrounded by various pleasant distractions. This piece outlines some essential tips that you can use to maintain focus while working long hours.
Most engineers I know are interested in achieving a relatively high level of productivity in their professional and work activities. Since most are working long hours, they aren’t interested in spending time on none-value added activities. Those who are successful in optimizing their productive time, do so through focusing on developing a plan of action.
Productivity is associated with creating value. While you can feel productive attending project meetings, reviewing designs, or obtaining closure on a long-standing issue, it may or may not result in value beyond making you feel productive. In my mind, productivity (a.k.a. creating value) comes only in achieving movement towards the accomplishment of a defined goal.
With this concept in mind, let’s unpack how to get from focus to productivity in your engineering career.
80/20 Principle as One of the Most Effective Ways to
Increase Your Productivity is a guest post by Samantha R. Gilbert
In 1895, Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist, became aware that people could be divided into two groups. The first one was the “vital few” that made up the top 20% regarding influence and money, and the second referred to the “trivial many” that made up the bottom 80% of the population. Then, he realized that all economic management reflected this principle, that 20% of the population controlled 80% of the Italian capital in that period. Pareto asserted that this principle could be implemented everywhere. Practically, the rule suggests that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your outcomes. Therefore, this means you can apply this rule to enhance your productivity and achieve your goals in less time. Just follow these five steps and learn how to apply the 80/20 principle in your life.
5 Reasons Why You Should Encourage Flexible Engineering Work Hours
is a guest blog post by Olivia Ryan
Flexible working has been one of the main topics in the business world in the last couple of years. This trend has reached the engineering field too, with 77% of firms offering some kind of flextime to their employees. Seeing that we are now living in the world where the newest employees are millennials, employees demand more flexible work arrangements even if the firm has not considered them in the business strategy.
“As a former engineer at a big company, I really enjoyed the sense of control you get when they allow you to set your work hours. Of course, we did not enjoy full liberty, but the employer allowed us to set our own start and stop times, and choose if we want to spread our work hours to the weekends, too, or do the entire shifts from Monday to Friday and get weekends off.” – says Keith Jackson, now an engineering writing expert at aussiewritings.com.
If you are still wondering whether you should introduce more flexibility into your work routine or that of your engineers, here are five big reasons why you should consider this:
This is a guest post by Nader Mowlaee.
Engineers are expected to perform at their best, if not all the time, most of it at least. Room for error in this type of career is small of course, as it can have huge negative impact on an individual project or the lives of millions of people.
It is essential to learn from our mistakes as it can help us become better engineers in our chosen paths, and the first step towards that is understanding how to become self-aware.
Everyone makes mistakes in things they do, such as daily actions and activities, their opinions towards someone or something, or judgements towards techniques and processes that result in poor outcomes, poor reasoning, and overall carelessness.
No matter how good of an engineer you are in your field, there is always going to be a time where you will make a mistake, as the famous saying goes, “Nobody is perfect.” Even machines make mistakes over time.
Why is it important to discuss these common mistakes? Well, prevention is the best solution to avoid mistakes, and we must talk about and accept the fact that we all can be in one of these following five situations at some time during our career.
There are mistakes that you have probably committed but didn’t realize because they happened on a subconscious level and required you to push outside of your comfort-zone, but you failed to do so and hoped and prayed that nothing bad would happen, but it did. Here’s how to avoid disasters from happening again.
This is a guest post by Patrick Sweet, P.Eng.
When she was about one year old, my daughter, Charlotte, started mimicking what my wife and I did in a big way. If we did it, she wanted to do it. If I stirred my coffee, she wanted to stir her milk. If my wife went to play the piano, Charlotte wanted to play the piano. If I changed the channel on the TV, Charlotte wanted to try to do it, too. It was adorable, and I almost always got a chuckle out of it. Monkey see, monkey do.
Charlotte’s favorite thing to do, though, was to clean. This kid was a neat freak. The problem though, was that she was terrible at cleaning. After all, she was a one-year-old. She’d smear milk all over the table. She’d wipe her stuffed animals’ paws with a dirty dishcloth she stole from the counter. She’d use the carpet to wipe off her boots… you get the idea. The world was a much cleaner place when Charlotte wasn’t trying to clean it.
The link between effectiveness and productivity
This is a guest post by Patrick Sweet, P.Eng.
This may not come as a big surprise, but it takes a very different approach to engineering when you’re designing a space shuttle than when you’re designing a guitar amplifier (No offense, Marshall fans). The challenges and issues are simply different in nature when you tackle a mega-project. There’s more to integrate, there are more people involved, and much of what gets done has never been done before. These differences have lead to the emergence of a number of new techniques and processes in a discipline of engineering called systems engineering.
In its simplest form, systems engineers lead and guide teams in the development of complex systems. As systems become more complicated and more tightly integrated with other systems, the need for specialized engineering knowledge becomes more and more obvious.
So, even though the approach to engineering a big system is different than when you are tackling a smaller product or project, there are still lessons that can be learned from the world of systems engineering that can apply to anyone in engineering.
Today, I’ll share three ways to think like a systems engineer to improve your designs – no matter what the scale.
This is a guest blog post by Carol Evenson
Science has done its due diligence, and the research speaks for itself; multitasking is officially out as a productivity tool. In fact, the latest data shows that multitasking can actually decrease productivity. Clearly, as a busy engineer, a decrease in productivity is the last thing you want and need.
In this post, I’ll show you how to take a look at your habits over the last year and convince you to make your first 2017 resolution to leave multitasking behind for good.
Three Types of Multitaskers
This is a guest blog post by Skye J. Coleman, PE
A few years back I had a decent life, I was working at a good company with great pay and a lot of responsibility. But I’d been doing the same job, more or less, for several years and it was starting to get a bit boring.
Alright, so maybe not that bad, but I wasn’t getting a lot done.
The truth was I kind of felt slighted, I was doing 90% of the electrical engineering for the firm and didn’t have a title to match my job duties. Instead of figuring out how to make the job better and position myself for the raise I thought I deserved, I tried hijacking a negotiation. It failed miserably, but it got me focused.
When I came to my next firm, I was determined to ensure that I wouldn’t ever be in that position again, but I had no idea how to get the help I needed. [Read more…]
This is a guest blog post by Daniel Hayes, PE, PMP
Accountability is all the rage. Goal setting literature is full of articles, features and columns, touting the benefits of finding an accountabilibuddy, one whose job it is to keep you on track, moving forward on your goals, performing what you planned and promised. While I agree that having someone hold me accountable makes perfect sense, the idea has never worked well for me. I have always struggled being on the hook to someone else; so much that resistance to accountability often pushes me off course. I find myself pushing back on accountability because of this.
I’ve always wondered if there was something wrong with me. Why do I push back on those trying to support me? Why does my work suffer when I am held externally accountable? Does this inclination and behavior of mine have to sabotage my career and personal development?