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How do you organize your time as a physicist or engineer?

How do you organize your time as a physicist or engineer?

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Jerome’s Answer

A lot of the answer depends on the exact role you're filling. Some engineering positions are task-driven; you're working on X, and you allocate your time based on what you have to do for X. You might use a project management tool or Agile methodologies to help you there. If your position is project-driven, you'll add project meetings and other overhead but will still use the same sort of organizational tools.
More often, your role will encompass other functions as well. You'll have some elements of project management, research, build/test/execute, and other overhead; perhaps you'll be involved in budgeting, hiring, and similar functions. Those don't necessarily track, begin, or end on defined project schedule boundaries.
The key is to remain flexible and use all of the tools and techniques appropriate to the function. You might rely heavily on e-mail reminders, project management/scheduling tools, Agile tools, and even (yeah, we all do it) a pile of Post-It notes stuck to your desk and monitor. You'll probably discover that once you set up rigid rules and time blocks, you immediately start finding "exceptions", so a less-restrictive scheduling and management technique that allows for the inevitable change/emergency/just-this-once-please-do-this events is the least frustrating way to go.

Good luck in your career!
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Emily’s Answer

Hi Steven,

I usually organize my time in Asana or Trello, by writing small to bigger task I have to do in that day and putting in there how much time do I think that it’s going to be. Normally, I also use my email calendar so I know what other tasks the company has for me and when I finish my “job task’s” and I’m out of work I have some ‘me time’ doing whatever I feel that day (playing videogames, watching a movie, studying, practicing any sport or maybe just go for a walk)

So my advice is that you try some ways to manage your time, maybe an agenda, email, asana, trello or others. Try out different tools to manage your time week by week and then you will see what works best for you!

Cheers,
Em
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Andrew’s Answer

Physicists and engineers are human too. They organize the life just like anybody else balancing between family, work, and community.

On the other hand, one should be cognizant that it is beneficial to organize one’s life with focus and dedication by devoting quality time to what one does.

The key words are focus and quality time.
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Brad’s Answer

I actually use e-mail to keep organized. I am a Quality Engineer and have to multi-task quite a bit. I write myself e-mails to help me manage tasks I need to complete. We use e-mail so much that every time I access my e-mailbox I can see a list of my tasks so there is a reminder that the tasks are open and need to be addressed. I have done this for years and it works well.
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Pascal’s Answer

As a mechanical engineer in general you will work on a project with a group of people, some of them mechanical engineers as well.
The purpose of the project is in general to create something new or modify (improve) something already existing: in the end there will be a product good enough for someone to pay for it: that's how you make your money, through the customer paying for it.

I have been a mechanical engineer and like most creative work if you are not disciplined it can consume your life.
I log into my electronic calendar all the things that are not work: entertainment, workouts, meeting with friends, etc, even during the weekends.
I try to book fun activities at lunch time, instead of just lunch, which is likely to be skipped anyway: a pickup soccer game, a volley ball game, etc.
I also setup a bunch of regular alarms that align with my calendar and warn me: "Time for your soccer game!" etc.
Other than that you day time is shared between you creative work and some meetings where you and your team will review the project's requirements and the progress.
When a project is completed you will celebrate with your peers, and start working on the next project.
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Allisson’s Answer

Hello Steven!

As a Software Engineer, I found out a long time ago that despite you setting up your calendar and blocking some time for productivity, it will always get disrupted. That can be urgencies, unplanned meetings, peers asking for help, etc. So, for me, time management started leaning more on quality other than quantity. That means that whatever you're doing now, be 100% in it. Multitasking is useful but it can lead you to half-baking everything you're doing at the same time, so be careful and use it wisely!

There are some tools or things you can do to improve time efficiency even more: learning when you're the most productive (morning VS afternoon), blocking time in your calendar (as I previously mentioned), note taking can help you prevent repetitive work and cut research time by 99% if you need the same info again in the future — this is HUGE! Read "Building a Second Brain" — and, most importantly, take small breaks from time to time: stretching your legs, taking some air outside, grabbing a drink and talking to people along the way, watching a 10 min video, etc., your brain will thank you.

Time management is complicated and some approaches work with some people and don't for others. But the most important thing is for you to try and develop your way of managing your time. My suggestions are merely to give you a start :)

I hope my answer has helped you a bit!
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